Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal Flower

Plant Type: Perennial
Sun: Partial Shade, Shade, Sun
Drainage: Adaptable
Water: Moist, Regular
Height X Width: 6' X 2'
Santa Clara County Local: No
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The cardinalflower grows in moist places throughout much of the US and Canada. In California it is found at higher elevations in the peninsular ranges from Los Angeles County to San Diego County. The cardinalflower grows as an expanding patch of upright stalks with auriculate (no leaf stem) lance-shaped leaves. In early summer each stalk is topped with a raceme of intricate, cardinal red flowers. Red is a rather rare flower color among our native flora. A glowing patch of blooming cardinalflower reminds us why the color is so popular. The flowers open from the bottom to the top of the raceme, resulting in a long bloom period. Deadheading of the spent flowers can extend the bloom into fall. The blooms are quite popular with hummingbirds. Cardinalflower requires a moist setting, but is otherwise accepting of a variety of conditions. Although generally listed as an evergreen plant, I have found that cardinalflower is winter deciduous in my San Jose Nursery. Plant cardinalflower among other moisture-lovers such as meadow lupine, Lupinus polyphyllus, and western coneflower, Rudbeckia occidentalis.


Deer Resistant: Yes
Attractive to Bees: Yes
Attractive to Butterflies: Yes
Good Under Oaks: No
Evergreen or Deciduous: Evergreen