Cardinal Flower

East Greenbush, NY

I bought a Cardinal Flower because there was a tiny Lupine in the same pot which I wanted..Well, the Cardinal Flower was spectacular a lovely red but it's roots are always showing.
I put a little soil over them but there they are again.!!
I live in Zone 6. Will it winter over.???..and how can i help it? Thanks for help.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

your plant is from the Lobelia (Companula) family and they are quite un-reliable as far as hardyness is concerned, they are also quite short lived in some places in as much as they die after about 3-4 years so it is always a good idea to take cuttings around March-April time so IF your plant is not doing too good, you have several new plants to take over the space from the old ones. Or do some seeds gathered from the plant going over in Autumn.

The best way to protect the plant you have right now would be to spread a mulch of either compost, leaf mold over the root area but make sure you don't put the mulch against the stems or they may rot in the winter weather.
In spring when you begin your border tidy gently remove (thin out) the mulch so the tender roots can get up, the Stems of these plants are easy bruised so watch out when you are forking over the soil or weeding, soon as you nick the stems, you see the white patch under the lovely red foliage. Slugs- snails love these plants here in UK so make sure in your area you look out for them and try kill these garden pests.
Hope this helps you out a bit and you can enjoy for many years. Good luck WeeNel.

Chile, Chile

Hello AnnFran,
Cardinal Flower is also sometimes mistakenly called Indian pink. This flower attracts hummingbirds.Cardinal Flower is best planted in rich moist soil in full sun to light shade in a formal perennial bed, moist meadow, water garden, or as a container plant for a patio. Grow Cardinal Flower in the butterfly garden, hummingbird garden and use as a cut flower. The basal rosettes need sunlight in the winter so fallen tree leaves should be removed. Wild Cardinal flower looks good when planted with Irises, Asclepias (Marsh milkweed), Hibiscus (Rose Mallow), Veronicastrum (Culver's-root), and Great Blue Lobelia. Cardinal flower seeds are very small and germinate without pretreatment.

This message was edited Dec 7, 2011 10:46 PM

Calgary, AB(Zone 3b)

As you can see (above) from the natural range of cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), it is a quite a cold hardy species. However, hybrids between L. cardinalis and a tropical Lobelia species are often sold as "cardinal flower", that are much less cold hardy. So, it really depends on what you have bought.

"Indian pink" is the common name for Spigelia marilandica, another North American native plant, but something else again entirely.

Dublin, Ireland

Cardinal Flowers require rich and moist soil. These can survive occasional dry regions but prefer more sun.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I agree with angel and the others who recommend damp richer soil, they need sun and a warm position from spring on-wards and as the weather turns colder, the roots require protection either by placing a leaf mulch over the root area or straw that can be held in place with maybe chicken wire etc.
I suspect you have not planted this plant deep enough when you set it out in the garden, this is quite a common mistake people make so come spring when you see new tiny shoots show above ground, dig the plant up, keep as much soil as possible around the roots, then dig a new hole, add manure /compost etc to the new hole ( Id bury the plant so you have a good 3 inch of soil above the top growth, this will help keep the roots from going too dry and also will encourage new shoots to grow out from the crown of the plant.
Hope this helps you out. you can even dig the plant up and pot it to take it inside but I don't feel this is urgent unless you cant throw a mulch over it. Good Luck. WeeNel.

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