What’s blooming in Fran’s yard? Blue lobelia

Blog and photos by Fran Glass
Secretary and Membership Chair, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter

Blue flowers

Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitca)

Plant name:
Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitca)
(also called blue cardinal flower or great lobelia)

This Missouri native perennial is clump-forming. It grows about two feet tall with showy flowers in August and September.

Why I chose this plant:
I so enjoy the beautiful blue color and unusual shape of the flowers.

Bumble bees

The Xerces Society guide, Attracting Native Pollinatorscalls it “an exceptional bumble bee plant.”

In her book, Pollinators of Native Plants, Heather Holm states, “Bumble bees are the most frequent visitor and primary pollinator of great blue lobelia.” Heather also mentions digger bees, yellow-faced bees, small carpenter bees, metallic green sweat bees, and small sweat bees in her book, Bees, An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide.

Blue flowers

Blue lobelia

Blue lobelia prefers full sun to light shade in average to moist soil. It grows naturally in wet conditions along streams and marshes throughout Missouri. It does well in rain gardens. In dry conditions, lobelia requires watering.

MOBOT plant finder

Where to Purchase:
Missouri Wildflowers Nursery

8 thoughts on “What’s blooming in Fran’s yard? Blue lobelia

  1. Love your photo. At a Wild Ones meeting, Susan Orr showed me how Blue Lobelia and Cardinal Flower make a stunning combination. They like the same conditions and the hummingbirds love them both.

  2. Beautiful plant. I wish mine looked as happy as yours, Fran. They do like more moisture.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Fran. I just noticed yesterday that I have a cardinal flower in bloom — though I thought they had disappeared from my yard.

  4. Love the photo and the color. Thanks for helping me understand that mine probably didn’t survive due to lack of moisture during the prolonged drought.

  5. I have blue, red & white Iobelias blooming in my garden. The cardinal flower is the tallest it has ever been–around 3 ft. The white lobelia have spread quite a lot. I wish I could take such great photos.

  6. Thanks Fran! Blue lobelia and cardinal flower are short lived. However, they make thousands of seeds. If you give them a clear space they will germinate new plants and continue to do this for years unless they dry out. In my yard sometimes they come up in the cracks in the side walk or between rocks and in the flower pots where I am trying to grow other plants. I love them!

  7. Lovely post, Fran. Thanks for sharing. My blue lobelia and cardinal flowers are doing very well. This is their 4th season. The original cardinal flower was a volunteer. It is interesting that several of both the blue and the red lobelias seem to “move around” the yard from year to year and some return to their original spot.

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