Lobelia flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds to any garden. Lobelias are found in perennial and annual choices, growing in tall and short habits.
Lobelia is a large genus of flowering plants categorized, or treated, as perennials or annuals depending on the species or cultivar and where one lives. The tubular form of the bloom easily attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to this plant, making Lobelia worthwhile to grow specifically in a wildlife garden or as added interest in a planting bed.
Lobelia thrives when planted in part sun and part shade locations, taking into account heat intensity levels at the height of summer. Avoid drought tolerant sustainably designed landscapes, all forms of Lobelia require moist well-draining soil to flourish.
Tall Perennial Native Cardinal Flowers
The cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, is a native wildflower in the United States and Canada. The tall narrow perennial adds good vertical form to gardens where attracting pollinators is a priority. A cutting garden created with Lobelia in zones 4 – 8 could be planted with:
- L. cardinalis ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ develops red blooms on stems with green and maroon foliage.
- L. cardinalis ‘Grape Knee Hi’ is unusual for its deep purple flowers that grow on a shorter stockier plant, 24” tall and 15” wide.
- L. x speciosa ‘Russian Princess’ is a large hybrid plant, growing approximately 48” – 60” tall with bronze foliage.
- L. x speciosa ‘Ruby Slippers’ is a shorter hybrid with green foliage and red flowers.
- L. siphilitica, great blue lobelia, is a native species found on the eastern coast line and somewhat hardier surviving zone 3 temperatures, characteristically different with blue flowers.
Native hardy lobelia belongs on a list of plants for wildflower gardens. Cardinal flower thrives along the edges of water and will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to ponds or rain gardens.
Short Annual Blue Trailer Spills Over
Annual lobelia is a shorter plant that has an upright or limited trailing aspect better characterized as a spiller. Technically a tender perennial, Lobelia erinus is a native of southern Africa, and as such, is not appropriate for a native garden in North America. Lobelia erinus is hardy in zones 10 – 11, but usually treated as an annual and favored for its high impact blue color.
Lobelia erinus thrives better in cooler weather, which makes it worth growing with pansies in late spring before the hot summer arrives. High heat does shut down, or at least slows, blooms opening on annual lobelia. At mid-summer, give annual lobelia a light haircut and the flowers will bounce back as the season cools.
Gardeners use a variety of forms for hanging baskets and small gardens. Feel inspired to plant Lobelia erinus plants and butterflies and hummingbirds will visit:
- Crystal Palace reaches a compact 4” tall with blooms of dark blue.
- Palace Series has blue, dark blue or white flowers with white eyes.
- Regatta Series blooms in blue, pink, crimson or white on a trailing stems.
- Sapphire has bright blue coloring with white eyes.
- Lucia™ Lavender Blush is an upright hybrid growing up to 14” tall.
The blue or blue with a white eye cultivars of annual lobelia are good choices for creating a 4th of July planting. The plants are inexpensive for growing a mass of blue flowers, in the red, white and blue theme.