Nodding Onion Gardens

Native Plant Nursery

Where Wildflowers Grow

Columbia Station, Ohio, USA


  Lobelia siphilitica 'Alba'  - White Cardinal Flower

Cultivation Information

Height - 24 to 36 in
Flower Color
- White
Blooms - July - September
Sun - Sun or part shade

Hardy Zone -  4- 9

Soil - Moist and fertile

Family - Campanulaceae

White 'Alba' Lobelia
Flowering White 'Alba' Lobelia
Propagation Suggestions - From Maine

Dear Roger

The white version of cardinal flower is a recessive albino that pops up in populations once in a while.  I have grown it from seed, but only get a few whites out of a batch of seed (the white seedlings lack any red/maroon pigment so are easy to spot in the seed pan).  Albino or alba forms are not protected or listed separately per se, as they are genetic varieties and not geographic varieties, but both the blue lobelia and cardinal flower have white forms.  Cardinal flower also has a pink form that comes more easily from seed. 

You can root lobelias from stem cuttings taken just before the first flower buds open.  Lengths of stem with two leaves plus one leafless node below ground treated with rooting hormone root pretty well, and this is the best way to guarantee white plants (or other color morphs).

Best Wishes and hope that helps



Bill Cullina

Acting Executive Director

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

PO Box 234

132 Botanical Gardens Dr.

Boothbay, ME  04537

White 'Alba" Lobelia - Growing in My Ditch
White 'Alba" Lobelia - Growing in My Ditch
August 2012 - Who Gets the Last Laugh?

As you can see from this page, my father Roger Dahlin spent a great many New York winter hours (2011 – 2012) learning to propagate the rare White “Alba” Lobelia. He did master it and gave me several of his prized plants.

I have one beautiful gallon pot the others I assumed didn’t make it.

I randomly stuck a few Blue Lobelia/Cardinal flowers in our ditch, I pretty much forgot about them all summer long; full sun, very little rain and crummy clay soil. You can imagine my surprise when I notice this one plugging away.
White Lobelia - Nodding Onion Gardens
Red, White and Blue Lobelia

Propagation by Stem Cutting - Lobelia siphilitica 'alba'

Slide Show © Roger Dahlin
White Cardinal Flower
White Cardinal Flower on the left
Photo  © Dave Miner

Propagation Suggestions from Up State NY


I don't add the very fine sifted dirt until I'm ready to plant in the spring. I use a plastic coffee can with lid to store mine in. It's about a quart in size. My can is less than half full of husk with seed. Before I add the dirt I shake out the seed to separate it from the husk. The seed is so fine it almost looks like dust or maybe pepper. I also assume I don't get all the seed out of the husk, so I plant the husks also but separate from the pure seed. I bet I don't get more then a teaspoon full of pure seed.


For storing the seed with husks I leave the seeds dry out good before I put the lid on to prevent any mold from developing. I store the can on a shelf in a back shed but I'm thinking an unheated garage would work.


Come spring I shake the can vigorously to try to separate as much seed as possible. I then put the husks in a separate container. I then use a play sand box sieve to sift the dirt to get about a cup full of fine dirt. I then add the dirt to the seed and mix/shake it up good. I do that because the seed is so fine I don't know how else to plant it. The theory is that the seed will mix in and stick to the dirt which becomes much easier to plant. This is my own theory so what ever works for you is the way to do it.


Then I plant the husks just in case some of the seed stayed with it.


Not very many survive but at least I get some every year. The hard part is that they don't show up until mid summer, so I never really know what I got until the flowers start to bloom. I plant them in a naturally setting at the edge of the pond right along with all the weeds and what ever else grows in that area. It's about a two foot wide strip at the ponds edge that does not get mowed.  


Good luck,

Dave Miner