Information About Cardinal Flower

Information About Cardinal Flower

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Cardinal Flower Info – Growing And Caring For Cardinal Flowers

By Jackie Carroll

The cardinal flower produces intense red blossoms at a time when many other perennials are declining in the summer heat. Find information about the cardinal wildflower plant in this article.

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How to Transplant Cardinal Flowers

Cardinal flowers, also known as Indian pink, are a member of the Bellflower family. Growing up to 6 feet tall, this perennial produces red blooms 2 to 8 inches long from late spring into fall. The fragrant blooms attract humming birds that help in the pollination process for the plant. Cardinal flowers can be transplanted in spring when danger of frost has past. Transplanted cardinal flowers usually do not bloom until the plant has been in the ground for two years.

Select a sunny to partial shade location to transplant cardinal flowers. The plant can tolerate most soil conditions but clay soil enhanced with organic matter can reduce packing. Cardinal flower prefers moist soil and can tolerate being in a continuously wet location, like near a pond or stream. If the plant has not already been removed from the ground for transplanting, then dig a few inches outside the base of the plant and down about 12 inches. The removed plant can be carried on the shovel to its new location.

  • Cardinal flowers, also known as Indian pink, are a member of the Bellflower family.
  • Cardinal flowers can be transplanted in spring when danger of frost has past.

Dig the hole for the transplant at least twice as wide and deep as the rootball. Add two handfuls of organic matter to the bottom of the hole. Up to 50 percent organic matter in the form of household compost, leaf mold or a commercial product can be added to clay soil.

Back fill the hole with enough soil so when the rootball is resting in the bottom of the hole, the crown (where the roots meet the foliage) is at ground level. Completely backfill the hole, pressing the soil down as you go to force out air pockets. Cut off any dead stems.

Water thoroughly and keep the soil moist, which could mean watering at least weekly if there is no saturating rain. Add 2 to 3 inches mulch. Apply an all-purpose fertilizer when blooms start to open.

  • Dig the hole for the transplant at least twice as wide and deep as the rootball.
  • Add two handfuls of organic matter to the bottom of the hole.

All parts of the plant are toxic if eaten in large quantities.

We're sorry this plant 22105 is done shipping for the season

Zone This refers to the USDA hardiness zone assigned to each part of the country, based on the minimum winter temperature that a region typically experiences. Hardiness zone ranges are provided for all perennial plants and you should always choose plants that fall within your range.

Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day shade means little or no direct sun.

Height The typical height of this product at maturity.

Spread The width of the plant at maturity.

Bloom Season The time of the year when this product normally blooms.

Resistant To Adverse garden conditions, such as heat or frost, deer or rabbits, that this product can tolerate well.

Item 22105 cannot ship to: AA, AE, AK, AP, AS, CN, FM, GU, HI, MH, MP, PR, PW, VI
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Lobelia: Indoor Sow or Potted Perennial Plant

How to Sow and Plant Lobelia Perennials

Sowing Lobelia Seed Indoors:

  • Sow indoors seeds 8-12 weeks before the last frost
  • Sow thinly and just press into seed-starting formula
  • Keep the soil moist at 65-75 degrees F
  • Seedlings emerge in about 20 days
  • As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
  • Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • If you are growing lobelia in small cells, you may need to transplant the seedlings to 3 or 4 inch pots when seedlings have at least 2 pairs of true leaves before transplanting to the garden so they have enough room to develop strong roots
  • Before planting lobelia in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.

Planting Lobelia in the Garden:

  • Select a location with well-drained, rich, moist soil in partial shade to full sun. If in full sun, make sure plants get plenty of water.
  • Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 6-12 inches removing any debris, and lightly raking as level as possible.
  • The addition of organic matter (leaf mold, compost, well-rotted manure) benefits all gardens and is essential in recently constructed neighborhoods.
  • Plant on a cloudy day or in late afternoon to reduce transplant shock.
  • Dig a hole for each plant, approximately 6-8 inches apart large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
  • Unpot the plant and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root growth.
  • Place the top of the root ball even with the level of the surrounding soil. Fill with soil to the top of the root ball. Press soil down firmly with your hand.
  • Thoroughly water and apply a light mulch layer on top of the soil (1-2 inches) to conserve water and reduce weeds.

How to Grow Lobelia Plants

  • Keep weeds under control during the lobelia growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their germination.
  • Mulches can also be used to help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. For perennials, an organic mulch of aged bark or shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
  • Careful watering is essential in getting lobelia perennials off to a good start. Water thoroughly at least once a week to help new roots grow down deeply. Soil should be damp at about 1 inch below the soil surface. You can check this by sticking your finger in the soil. Water early in the morning to give all leaves enough time to dry. One inch of rain or watering per week is recommended for most perennial plants. You can check to see if you need to add water by using a rain gauge.
  • Until the plants become established, some protection from extreme winds and direct, hot sunlight may be necessary. Good air movement is also important.
  • After new growth appears, a light fertilizer may be applied. Keep granular fertilizers away from the plant crown and foliage to avoid burn injury. Use low rates of a slow release fertilizer, as higher rates may encourage root rots.
  • Deadhead to encourage repeat blooming.
  • Pinch plants if you prefer bushier growth.
  • Do not cut back in fall, cut back in spring.
  • Divide every 2-3 years.

Lobelia Varieties Available at Burpee Seeds

Lobelia Growing Tips

  • Perennial lobelias are useful for difficult, wet locations. They are attractive in the middle or back of the border, and naturalize well in woodlands and along stream banks. They are very effective massed in the landscape.
  • Lobelias make great cutting flowers as well. Cut when flowers are 1/3 open.

Perennial Growing Tips

How to Start Cardinal Flower Seeds

Cardinal flower seeds can be sown in the fall. Surface sow they need light to germinate. They will need continual moisture in the spring to germinate and grow. These tiny seeds can also be started indoors or spring-planted, but they must have 2 months of cold-stratification in order to germinate.

After cold stratification, surface sow and keep moist (it is best to cover your container with plastic and mist when needed or bottom-water). They might take 3-5 weeks to germinate at room temperature. The plants will bloom the second year from seed.


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