Nodding Onion Gardens

Native Plant Nursery

Where Wildflowers Grow

Columbia Station, Ohio, USA


 Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Flower 

Ohio Native - Plant Natural Range

Lobelia cardinalis

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has a wonderful map showing the natural range of Cardinal Flower.

Native Plant of the Year - LEAP (Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity) - Native Plant of the Year 2015

Monarch on Cardinal Flower
Monarch butterfly on Cardinal Flower

Wildlife Significance

Cardinal Flower

Nectar Source - Butterfly, humming birds and Bumblebees.

- Flowers that attract humming birds attract Sphix moths, both have a long "tube like" mouth piece that works like a straw. Moths are " dinner" for birds that feed at night, like Night Hawks and Whiporwills.

Birds - Butterflies, moths and skippers are all a high protein food source for birds

Deer - Are not fond of this plant

For more details on this plant visit the Illinois Wildflower website.
Cardinal Flower
Cardinal Flower - Roger Dahlin
Cardinal Flower -  Has no scent and is primarily propagated by Humming birds. Birds have no sense of smell but humming birds are attracted by the deep red color.

Most important their long bill can reach down into the flower unlike most insects and bees

Historically Speaking

In early times, the Iroquois Indians in the State of New York used the plants for cough medicine.

Cardinal Flower - Lobelia cardinalis
Ken & Paula Kober's Garden - A sea of Cardinal Flowers
Cardinal Flower - Lobelia cardinalis
Lobelia cardinalis - Roger Dahlin

Cultivation Information

Lobelia cardinalis

Height - 2-3 feet
Flower Color - Red
Blooms - July - September
Sun - sun to light shade 

Hardy Zone - 3 to 9
Soil -moist to wet/rich humus
pH -4.0-6.0

Family – Campanulaceae

Plant suitable for Rain Gardens. Plants will do well in sunny locations if they remain moist

Hummingbird on Cardinal Flower Jim Wohl
Hummingbird on Cardinal Flower - Jim Wohl
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Protected Native Plant list shows this plant and its cousin the Great Blue Lobelia are exploitably vulnerable native plants likely in the near future throughout all or a significant portion of their range with the state if causal factors continue unchecked.
Cardinal Flower Seeds
Cardinal Flower Seeds Are Very Tiny

Propagation Notes 

Lobelia cardinalis

Collecting Seed -
Wait until seed is dark brown, dry in a paper bag before cleaning and storing

Outside - Seeds seen to germinate best when temperatures reach 70º F. Seeds need light to germinate don't cover them with dirt

Stratifying Seeds in Refrigerator - 2012

December 15, 2012
- Seeds placed in Cold Moist Storage

Supplies Needed For Seed Stratification -

1. Zip lock plastic bag

2. Few table spoons of Vermiculite

3. Dampen vermiculite - not soggy

4. Store in refrigerator for 60 days

Sprouted - 2-18-2012 - Many!
Night Temperature - 61 - 63°F

Day Temperature - 64 - 65°F -Under florescent lights

Seed Provenance -  Lobelia cardinalis

 Lobelia cardinalis  Nodding Onion Gardens - 2012 to present - Prairie Moon Nursery, Winona, MN - 2010 - 2011