Cardinal Flower, a member of the Lobelia family, is named for its beautiful scarlet red flowers which are an important nectar source for hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies. Lobelias produce a secondary compound known as “lobeline,” which deters herbivores. Tall spikes of brilliant red, trumpet-shaped flowers rise above the dark green foliage, and open from the bottom to the top and bloom for several weeks. They grow best in moist, rich soils in full sun to partial shade, usually near a pond or wetland area. Its bright red blossoms also make excellent cut flowers. Parent plants will not persist for more than a few years, but it is a prolific self-seeder and fast grower. As long as the tiny seeds can make soil contact, you will have a revolving colony of new red blooms each year. Cardinal flowers bloom during summer and sometimes into fall. Because most insects struggle to navigate the long necks of the trumpet-shaped flowers, Cardinal flower depends on hummingbirds for fertilization. This makes Cardinal flower ideal for use in hummingbird gardens.
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