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Lobelia, Cardinal Flower 'Queen Victoria'

Lobelia cardinalis

Family: Campanulaceae (kam-pan-yew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lobelia (low-BEE-lee-a) (Info)
Species: cardinalis (kar-dih-NAL-iss) (Info)
Cultivar: Queen Victoria
Synonym:Lobelia fulgens
Synonym:Lobelia x speciosa
Synonym:Lobelia splendens



Ponds and Aquatics

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade





Foliage Color:



24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Scarlet (dark red)

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bear Valley Springs, California

Clayton, California

Fairfield, California

Golden Hills, California

Roseville, California

Stallion Springs, California

Susanville, California

Tehachapi, California(3 reports)

Aurora, Colorado

Fountain, Florida

Chicago, Illinois

Evanston, Illinois

Palmyra, Illinois

Davenport, Iowa

Harbert, Michigan

Mason, Michigan

Saginaw, Michigan

Byhalia, Mississippi

Madison, Mississippi

New Milford, New Jersey

Liberty, New York

Southold, New York

West Islip, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Emerald Isle, North Carolina

Dayton, Ohio

Geneva, Ohio

Dallas, Oregon

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Whitehall, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Ladys Island, South Carolina

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Crossville, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Mount Juliet, Tennessee

Fort Worth, Texas

Garland, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

Logan, Utah

Ames Lake, Washington

GRAPEVIEW, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Ocean Park, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Redmond, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Union Hill-Novelty Hill, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 20, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a spectacular plant. The late season flowers are showy and good for cutting, and the dark red foliage makes an equal contribution to the garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society has awarded this plant its coveted Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

However, in Boston (Z6a) I've never seen it survive the winter.

It is not a cultivar of L. cardinalis. It's a hybrid between L. cardinalis and the tender species L. fulgens (native to Mexico and Central America). It's from the latter that it inherits both its showy red foliage and its tenderness.

... read more


On Jul 19, 2014, lokidog from Logan, UT wrote:

This is a beautiful plant, but in no way is it hardy to zone 3 - but it is more of a zone 7 plant. It may be that it's just not very long-lived, unless divided often, as well. The species L. cardinalis, is quite hardy, at least those ecotypes from cold-winter areas are. So the listing is really more for the species, not the cultivar. It is not hardy here in northern UT (unless protected). It seems especially prone to being damaged after the snow melts and hard freezes hit it at this time, so leave it protected till it's near the frost-free date (a few weeks before or so should be OK).


On May 30, 2014, yooperexpat from Louisville, KY wrote:

I had this plant last for 2 seasons here in Louisville. It grew in a partly shaded area where the hose dripped every time I used it. It grew to 4 feet high and bloomed well. Nowadays I get 4 packs of young plants, pot them up in heavy soil and plunk them into my small bog gardens with the elephant ears and such. At the end of summer the water is drained off and they go into my 60 degree basement under a ceiling light and get a smidgen of water once a week. Everything comes thru the winter. I wouldn't leave them outside anymore. In the UP of Michigan I've seen red swamp lobelia growing by beaver ponds but don't know which one it is so one of them is very hardy

... read more


On May 30, 2014, yooperexpat from Louisville, KY wrote:

I had this plant last for 2 seasons here in Louisville. It grew in a partly shaded area where the hose dripped every time I used it. It grew to 4 feet high and bloomed well. Nowadays I get 4 packs of young plants, pot them up in heavy soil and plunk them into my small bog gardens with the elephant ears and such. At the end of summer the water is drained off and they go into my 60 degree basement under a ceiling light and get a smidgen of water once a week. Everything comes thru the winter. I wouldn't leave them outside anymore. In the UP of Michigan I've seen red swamp lobelia growing by beaver ponds but don't know which one it is so one of them is very hardy

... read more


On Jul 26, 2013, FlyPoison from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is one of my favorite late summer blooming natives. It's a hummingbird magnet and blooms for many weeks in mid-late Summer. I've had mixed success with it returning from year to year and it never comes back from seed in our gardens. The seeds need to be immersed in water for an extended period in order to germinate. I usually transplant at least 2-3 every year in early Winter from an extremely abundant wild source. They do well in full to partial shade and heavy wet clay. They don't like to dry out too much, especially during the hottest part of the summer. This beauty is the reddest wildflower in our area. We grow one in an open garden with partial sun that needs occasional watering ; we have another that grows without having to water at all in full shade with NE exposure. I... read more


On Jul 22, 2013, jkrs10 from Grand Pass, MO wrote:

My perennial plant has green foliage. The flower is red as pictured for Queen Victoria and a favorite of hummingbirds. It survives in regular garden soil with dry periods during summer, full sun, zone 5. I also have annual cardinal plants that I allow to reseed as food for hummers.


On May 12, 2013, Eldine from Wellsville, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

Loved this in my garden last year- beautiful foliage and gorgeous red flowers. Had it next to some tango lily "cappuccino" by chance and the combination was striking! However, did not return in my zone 4 garden. Sooo disappointing! After reading other posts, I will probably not try it again. If this grows in your garden, try it with the Cappuccino Lily!


On Aug 29, 2012, gumboot from chemainus,
Canada wrote:

Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria' is not as delicate as indicated in some data. Here on Vancouver Island (Zone 7) I have 2 separate clumps of this lovely plant planted 4 & 3 years ago. Both have been moved successfully out of harm's way as our local deer seem to like them as well .
They are in part-sun/part-shade areas as recommended. However, they do not flower until very late in the season (end of August/early September) so I will hold my breath and move them again. I suspect they may prefer more sun in our cooler climate.


On Aug 10, 2012, tacomagardener from Tacoma, WA wrote:

I just purchased this plant today at Lowes because there was a hummingbird enjoying all the queen victoria lobelias.. I just wanted to say that I'm a bit disappointed reading all the comments about it not wintering over. It's suppose to be able to survive -20. Hmmm. I had the same problem with a blanket flower that was suppose to be cold hardy, but they forgot to mention that if you have a really wet winter, the roots will rot, but since this Lobelia is suppose to be a bog plant, I'm not sure why it wouldn't return the next year. I guess I will just have to wait and see.


On Jul 9, 2012, cball from Garland, TX wrote:

I am giving the plant a neutral right now. I had them on the North side of the house for a month and had to water every day because they were getting too much sun. I moved them to a dappled shade area out back and they seem more happy. They are about four feet tall. I love the color of the foliage and flowers, but they are quite tall and leggy. I accidentally broke off a couple of flower stalks when I moved them and they are putting out new growth at each leaf group along the stalk so I assume they can be cut back to get a bushier plant. Time will tell.


On Apr 28, 2012, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

I've tried this twice and it didn't overwinter either time.


On Mar 8, 2012, amallen from Johns Island, SC wrote:

This plant grows wild here on Seabrook in heavily shaded areas with moist soil but not necessarily in low, wet areas.. Will try it this summer in semi shade moist area under live oaks and also in sunnier garden with giant blue lobelia


On Mar 5, 2012, jimdebharrison from Farmington, MI wrote:

Planting the Queen Victoria was the first of other plants I was planning to draw in hummingbirds. For about a week they were growing nicely. Then, I noticed it was being nibbled. Thinking it was the rabbits I put a 8 in chicken wire fencing around each one. But, in short order more was being eaten more. Assuming it was the squirrels I sprayed a baby shampoo recipe on it daily. This recipe had worked in the past but in short order they were all gone; all eaten up. Didn't actually see the hungry foe. I wished it had worked out. Any ideas how to get this lovely Lobelia but not get eaten up?


On Feb 1, 2011, Sonnenblume from Aurora, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

When I first bought the plant on the 4th of July sale at Lowe's here in Colorado it looked like the pictures of the Queen Victoria cultivar. But when it grew tall it looked more like the standard Lobelia, Cardinal Flower as depicted under that entry. I planted it in mostly shade with morning sun in a boggy area that gets watered along with the lawn and it loved it there last summer, grew really tall and bloomed a pretty red but the foliage turned back to green for some reason, I find that interesting, has anybody else experienced this too? I have a photo of the small plant growing looking like Queen Victoria but all the later pictures I took when the plant was tall and blooming show a much more green foliage!I still loved the plant and so far its 'existant' in the middle of winter but righ... read more


On Aug 30, 2010, ms_greenjeans from Hopkins, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I planted two of these this summer in my shade garden. This year the plants are rather spindly and floppy; I'm hoping they will "fatten up" some each year. I hear conflicting reports about hardiness, how long they live, and whether they self-seed. I guess I'll just have to wait and watch. The foliage is beautiful, and the brilliant red flowers are awesome, so if they are short-lived I'll probably just buy more or figure out how to propagate them.


On Jun 11, 2010, ldg13 from Raleigh, NC wrote:

Does this plant go dormant? I purchased and had this plant doing beautifully in a relatively shady spot. I left town for a week. There was rain in that timeframe and a plant sitter doing backup watering. Nonetheless, when I returned, the plant was nowhere to be found.


On Jun 14, 2009, Rosasharon from Desloge, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I live in the humid conditions of the Midwest. I just purchased and planted a Queen Victoria Cardinal flower two weeks ago. After the fact, I read that it doesn't do well in the heat and humidity of our climate. I water it almost daily and it seems to be thriving. However, it's in a sunny garden and won't get any shade till a round 6PM. My question is - should I move it to another area...or maybe even a planter, or should I just continue to water often and hope that it adapts?


On May 18, 2009, msfeatherflower from Sugar Land, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Does any gardener know if this plant can be pruned so that it isn't so lanky and has more than one bloom per stalk? I certainly hope so because I just cut it back by 1/3. I hope it doesn't die. It went from a 6" pot to a 4' tall plant in no time at all here in Sugar Land, TX. I love the maroon foliage, but I want it to be bushier. Any experience to offer on this question?


On Jun 11, 2008, aspenbooboo41 from Whitehall, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Beautiful foliage & striking red flowers. Wilts easily in high heat and low moisture, but if you give it a drink it perks right back up. Plant is rated hardy to zone 3 or 4, but did not survive winter in zone 6a for me last year (hence the 'neutral' rating). I bought a few more plants because they are so lovely, and will try mulching-over this winter and see how that goes.


On Oct 27, 2007, Joy from Kalama, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I've grown 'Queen Victoria' Lobelia cardinalis in my garden for over 10 years. It hasn't been a short lived plant in my garden, perhaps it's only short lived in colder zones?


On Jul 22, 2007, flamingonut from New Milford, NJ wrote:

Striking foliage and haven't had any issues with flopping. I've seen conflicting hardiness ratings and am hoping it survives zone 6 winters. I had purchased it at a local nursery, on the perennial table.


On Nov 4, 2006, JodyC from Palmyra, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I bought two of these on sale at Lowe' says hardy zones 3-9 to -40* I hope they are correct...grown by Sawyer Nursey in Hudsonville,MI. if it grows there it should grow here..I will update in the spring to add my zone if it makes it through the winter.


On Mar 1, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I agree the foliage alone makes this plant worth a spot in your garden.


On Jun 26, 2002, Baa wrote:

There appears to be some confusion over the parentage of this particular cultivar, to avoid further confusing the issue I have not put a species name in. However, you may find Queen Victoria listed under L. cardinalis, L. splendens, L. fulgens and L. x speciosa. Update on names 3-8-06: Queen Victoria is now considered as a cultivar of L. cardinalis.

Short lived, clump forming perennial of garden origin.

Has lance shaped, glossy, deep purple/red leaves and stems. Bears red, two lipped flowers on tall stems.

Flowers August-October

Requires a moist, fertile soil in full sun or partial shade. Is very happy in bog gardens.

Sadly not reliably winter hardy and may benefit from being brought in over winter in frost p... read more