Lobelia Cardinalis, Cardinal Flowers: Attracts Butterfly’s And Hummingbirds

Photo Compliments of BudOhio

Photo Compliments of BudOhio

Lobelia cardinalis or cardinal flower is a perennial which typically grows in moist locations along streams, sloughs, springs, swamps, and in low wooded areas.  This is a clump-forming perennial which features erect, terminal spikes (racemes) of large, cardinal red flowers on unbranched, alternate-leafed stalks rising typically to a height of 24 to 36 inches (infrequently to  48 inches).

Tubular flowers are 2-lipped, with the three lobes of the lower lip appearing more prominent than the two lobes of the upper lip. Finely-toothed, lance-shaped, dark green leaves (up to 4 inches in length).  The bloom period is July to September.  Flowers are very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

White and rose colored forms are also available.

How To Make Your Lobelia Cardinalis, or Cardinal Flower Thrive

Cardinal flowers are easily grown in rich, humusy, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade; this plant needs constant moisture to thrive.  Lobelia cardinalis will tolerate full sun in cool, northern climates, but otherwise this plant appreciates part shade.

General Lobelia Cardinalis, Or Cardinal Flower Information

Pests & Diseases

There are no serious diseases or insect problems; this is a very hearty plant.


You should divide clumps in spring as needed; it may self-seed in optimum growing conditions.

Garden Uses

Cardinal Flowers are a wonderful late summer bloomer in your perennial border, wild garden, native plant garden, or your woodland garden.  If you are trying to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden this is a very effective choice; it is also an excellent choice to use near ponds or streams.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Campanulaceae
  • Common Name: Cardinal flower
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 3 to 9
  • Height: 24 to 48 inches
  • Width: 12 to 24 inches
  • Bloom Time: July to September
  • Bloom Color: Scarlet red, white, or possibly rose
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Water: Medium to wet (it does not tolerate wet feet in the winter)
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
  • Attracts: Hummingbirds, butterflies
  • Tolerate: Rabbits, deer, and wet soil

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  1. This plant I have grown as I love the vivid red colour. However I never manage to keep it a second year as the slugs devour the new growth and I won’t use slug pellets. Funnily enough if you put in a strong healthy plant they don’t eat it. You don’t see them that often to buy here though.
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  2. I did not know of this kind of Lobelia, Charie.
    I have a lot of the Blue/Purple Lobelia each year and it is so beautiful, but if this attracts hummingbirds, I’m in!!

    Thank you for the information.

  3. I think the toads in the garden and the garter snakes eat the slugs in my garden… Pretty flower

  4. How lovely, and they attract hummingbirds! 🙂

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