Native #4:
Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

©Bill Hilton Jr.

With its brilliant red blossoms, Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis, is aptly named. It grows best in moist--even wet--soil in full or partial sun and will thrive along the margin of a garden pool. Once established, it usually will re-seed itself--assuring future nectar for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

If you have a sharp photo of this hummingbird flower you would like to contribute for this page, please send it to PROJECTS with info about when and where the photo was taken, the photographer's name, and any anecdotal info about the plant.

An individual stalk of Cardinal Flower continues to blossom for several weeks. By the time the flowers at the top of the stalk are open, the older flowers at the base have already set seed.

 Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

©Bill Hilton Jr.


--Perennial, self-sowing
--Blooms late summer to mid-autumn
--Rich moist or wet soil
--Light shade, sometimes full sun
Zones 2-7

--Some Cardinal Flower populations (e.g., in west Texas) do NOT produce nectar; the best way to determine if nectar is being produced is to taste the base of the flower for sweetness.

NOTE: We are not horticulturists, so we regret we can't answer specific questions about how to plant and propagate native hummingbird flowers, but your local agriculture extension office or Master Gardener group may be able to help. We're also unable to provide names of sources from which you can order native plants. Please do NOT collect native plants from the wild unless they are growing in a site under immediate threat from development; instead, try to find a reputable nursery near you that raises native plants from cuttings or seeds.

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