LOBELIA (CARDINAL FLOWER) QUESTION

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I was looking at some Lobelias on the Lazy S&S and a lot of them say to make sure leaves aren't covering the basal foliage over the winter. Does anyone know why this is? It's a little late for me as leaves are already covering all of mine. They are first years so I didn't have this problem last year. Anyway, thanks for the help.

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

As far as I know, they are subject to rot if the basal foliage is covered up.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Hmm...well I guess I'll find that out this spring :-

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Maybe yours will drain well.

Hobart, IN

Had read years ago that L. cardinalis doesn't like being wet over winter. Not sure about the other cardinal species.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Well it's currently been snow covered for a couple months so if it wasn't meant to be, then they'll all bite the dust. I guess we'll see in a couple months. I usually put shredded leaf clippings over my main perennial beds for the winter. The bend most of the Lobelia are in doesn't have a lot of cover, just some. The other bed though has about 1-2" of cover.

Albany, ME(Zone 4b)

I haven't found my lob card to be picky at all. Lots of them grow in front of a wall that seeps moisture and is covered in snow until late may. No problem.

LAS

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Yeah, as it turns out, all of mine made it back and are blooming now. I did have some trouble with the native L. siphilitica though. That one is struggling in multiple spots. I think it has a hard time with competition from it's neighbors as all of mine are in heavily vegetated areas.

edit: Even my 'Fan Salmon' made a return and I thought that one was borderline hardy for zone 6b.

This message was edited Aug 6, 2015 11:58 AM

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Glad your Lobelia Cardinalis came back and are blooming! Lobelia grow naturally next to streams and can take a lot of water.

Mine are growing in an area that frequently has standing water when the snow starts melting, but the ground is still frozen. In fact, that bed has been under several inches of water on multiple occasions in early spring and the plants that have thrived are my Lobelia, Aquilegia (Columbine) and Astilbe.

I leave my Lobelia stalks standing all winter to let the seeds drop. I also think it helps prevent root rot. I've also read the info about keeping leaves off the rosettes, but I don't always get all the leaves off and have never had a problem.

This message was edited Aug 7, 2015 10:30 AM

Thumbnail by nutsaboutnature
Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Wow, is that a picture you've taken? I also find that Astilbe can take a lot of water as they are usually something that starts stressing when the rain stops in summer.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Yeah...I'm occasionally lucky enough to have my camera handy when they show up at flowers.

Astilbes are known to love water. The plants that were surprising to me are the Columbines I have in the same bed. Columbines aren't supposed to like soggy roots. Maybe it's just the particular variety I have back there...'Clementine Red'.



Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Yeah maybe it's the variety. Columbine are usually pretty low water plants. I had a bunch of columbine get crown rot this spring and die. So weird, I've never had that happen before.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

I've found one or two varieties of Columbine that are susceptible to leaf miners and also some seem to be hardier than others...at least for me. I don't specifically remember crown rot.

I remembered a few other plants I've had good luck with after being under water in that same bed - Hostas and Ferns. I've also had great luck in a soggy island bed with Liatris 'Blazing Star', Nepeta and Spirea 'Neon Flash'. The latter two aren't supposed to like wet feet. Most everything else there eventually died.

We have mostly clay and even though we amend with things like compost and leaves, it's sometimes still an issue, especially in certain areas of the yard. This autumn we plan to turn the island into a raised bed. I have one long thin raised bed that my husband built about 8 years ago and it's wonderful.

I've been adding more and more natives and I'm finding they really are more adaptable than a lot of other plants.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Leaf miners on Columbine are pretty common, it happens to mine all the time. I frequently get caterpillars on them too and they can eat a hole plant very quickly. I think they are columbine sawfly larvae. As soon as I notice them though, I bust out the spinosad and they die. I'm surprised that nepeta lived in that soggy spot. I think at some point it would be cool to have a bog garden. A gardening friend of mine used a plastic pond liner and filled it with soil to make theirs.

Albany, ME(Zone 4b)

SequoiaDendron, I, too, have found lobelia siphilitica to be much more temperamental than cardinalis. I have a perfect spot for them and have been trying to get a patch established for years. If it's not one thing it's another! Good luck.

LAS

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Good to know, thanks!

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

I've only grown Cardinalis, but it still took a couple of attempts. My first attempt was with two plants purchased at a native plant sale. They looked great and grew quickly to about 2 ft tall, then one after the other suddenly wilted and died.

My second attempt (from Bluestone) went well, but the first year all I got were rosettes, blooming the 2nd year. I let the seeds drop every year which has slowly increased the numbers. So far I haven't tried dividing or taking cuttings which would probably spread them faster.

The Nepeta bloom beautifully every year. If We continue getting a lot of rain after blooming the leaves start to turn yellow so I eventually cut them down and they start growing fresh green leaves again once the soil dries out.

These pics are my most successful Columbine. It's called 'Clementine Red' and doesn't even look like a traditional Columbine. They're growing in three different beds, but the ones that do the best are in the bed that sometimes drowns in early spring...go figure.

Thumbnail by nutsaboutnature Thumbnail by nutsaboutnature
Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Wow, that columbine is quite stunning. I wouldn't mind it doing well in our yard. I have a Nepeta 'Walker's Low' and that plant is a top performer. I also have a Nepeta 'Blue Dragon' and it does very well also. That last one didn't do super great last summer but this year it's making up for it big time. We have another Nepeta too but I forget which that one is. They are definitely great performing plants.

Natick, MA

I agree, Jeff....gorgeous columbine, nuts!

LAS, I think the lobelia siphilitica thrive on neglect (almost)! The ones in the sun and self-seeding down the sandy slope do well and I do nothing to them. Last year I transplanted them in the shade on the east of the house and it gets very little filtered light in the a.m. They are loving it!
Do you have plants, LAS that are not spreading, or are you trying to get them going from seed?

Jeff, are yours blooming yet? Mine just started

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I wonder if yours are doing better because of the sandy soil you have Val. All my cardinal flower are blooming now. My best group of L. siphilitica are blooming nicely.

Natick, MA

They DO seem to like the sandy soil. All of mine are not blooming yet, but just a few have started. Got lots of buds tho, so anytime now. I did transplant a few onto the top of a slope area on a "plateau" and they are doing OK but seem to be struggling this first year...It is NOT sandy at all. I wonder if that is key?

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Yeah I wonder. Mine are all in clay and full shade. Maybe they want a little more sun too.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Thanks Sequoia and Valal!
The 'Clementine Red' is the only Columbine in my yard that actually forms a rounded clump of foliage and flowers...almost like a very small shrub.

I also have 'Walker's Low'. It's the only Nepeta I've grown and it's definitely not fussy. Boy, the Lobelia siphilitica sounds really temperamental. I've looked at them in the past, but I probably ought to pass since I also have a lot of clay, but they sure are pretty.

BTW, I originally purchased my 'Clementine Red' from Bluestone back when their plants cost less and came in 3-packs. This link from their website gives a little more info about the plant. I bought mine on a whim cause I thought they were pretty. They did great while award winners like 'Songbird Cardinal' never did well for me and have slowly disappeared.

http://www.bluestoneperennials.com/AQCR.html

Natick, MA

Thanks for the informative "review", photos and info on where you purchased; This is definitely an item on my bluestone list because of your info! It really is gorgeous, and I LIKE that it "mounds"!

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Lazy S&S has an excellent selection of Lobelias. I would highly recommend them.

Albany, ME(Zone 4b)

valal, my siph just don't reappear in the spring. It's true, we're cold (border between 4 and 5), but that shouldn't be a problem. But it's a new idea to me that they like sandy soil. I certainly haven't been planting them in sandy soil. Au contraire... boggy soil. But I understand they like moisture.... Hmmm.... Must re-think.

Natick, MA

LAS I know they say they like mister soil but mine are not in anything near moist.....they are near my hydrangeas in a reg. Garden soil and have reseeded there and down a nearby slope that is very Sandy soil and water runs off and I sake my head in wonder that anything much does well there, but they do. Moved some siph last yr in almost full shade..when I dug up the small area it had terribly Sandy soil and I didn't think they would grow well. They have been ignored most of this yr and have THRIVED and look like some of my best ones....who knew!!?

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I've got siphilitica growing too rambunctiously in part sun, fairly moist nice soil here. I don't have that many areas with nice soil, so I'm thinking I'll have to move the lobelias somewhere else so I can reserve my better soil for fussier plants.

Natick, MA

sounds like a good plan, wee. I bet they will do fine in less that optimum soil

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