Cardinal Flower (low-BEE-lee-a: kar-dih-NAL-iss) Campanulaceae:
Lobelia cardinalis grows 3 to 4 feet tall and has bright scarlet red flowers. The flowers are produced in spikes in late summer. Loved by many for its bright color and late blooming. This plant does best in constantly moist soils in full sun to bright shade. They resent dry hot soils, but do not thrive in heavy wet soils for long. A magnet for hummingbirds, and butterflies. Flowering can start in late July and goes on to Mid October. In the garden give them water during dry periods in the summer. Will self sow if the soil is moist. Can be short lived but well worth the effort to start new plants every few years. The plants purchased from nurseries with dark stems are hybrids that are not as winter hardy. The seeds are small and the seedlings grow slowly, so care should be taken during watering. Planting out and transplanting should be done with concern not to damage the roots.
Native to most of North America, excluding the north western states of the USA. Surface sow the seeds, they are very fine. Keep between 65 and 75F. Cover the pots or trays with clear plastic or glass to keep the medium moist, keep in a sheltered location out of hot, direct sunlight but give light as light helps promote germination. Germination normally starts in 2 or 3 weeks. If no or little germination move to 30-39F for 4 weeks.