Wildflower Wednesday: Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is still blooming as we move through September so it is this month's Wildflower Wednesday featured native plant. It has been raining for days here so it has been a challenge to get photos for this post but running out between showers allowed me to snap a few.

In addition to the many plants that support hummers we also put up feeders during this busy time so that the hummingbirds can fuel up and not spend all their energy fighting over food sources

Ruby throated hummingbirds are at their peak numbers in September. The RTH that spent their summer north of us join those that stay in Georgia during their breeding season. It is not unusual for us to have 40-60 hummingbirds zooming around our property at this time. 

Over the years we have included more fall blooming plants to support migrating pollinators because they need the carbs for their journey. If you don't already have a plethera of fall flowers be sure to add natives such as asters, goldenrod, liatris and sunflowers to help migrating insects. 

Hummbingbirds are particularly attracted to red tubular flowers making cardinal flower a favorite

Lobelia cardinalis grows in moist to wet soil conditions in marshes, stream banks and other marginal lands. We grow it in several garden beds that tend to retain more moisture. In a home garden cardinal flower is an excellent option for a rain garden or areas around a shady pond. It is a long blooming perennial begining in July and still going strong through September.

See my post on Partridge Pea the host plant for the cloudless sulphur

In addition to hummingbirds, cloudless sulphur butterflies also frequent these flowers in late summer, fueling up for their fall migration to south Florida. They typically fly 12 miles a day and are often sighted in Georgia gardens in spring, as they migrate as far north as Canada and again in late summer as they return to their overwintering grounds. Cloudless sulphurs are more cold-hardy that most butterfly species and a few adults may try to overwinter in north Georgia in sheltered areas. 

I took this photo back in early July when the cardinal flowers were just begining to bloom. They open from the bottom to the top of the spike. This is one of nature's most intensly colored blooms and makes a summer focal point in our garden bed.

The spikes that flowered back in July and were pollinated have set seed. In each pod there are many tiny seeds. I have already collected some to share with friends, while others I will let self sow so that we have an even lusher planting next year. 

collect seeds to sow next year or share with friends

The spikes can grow quite tall and often flop over and probably should be staked. In this garden bed we have several natives that have volunteered here and grow well with the Lobelia cardinalis including elephant's foot (Elephantopus tomentosus) and columbine as well as two annual natives that many would consider weeds but I love, fleabane daisy (Erigeron) and smartweed (Polygonum).

Heavy rains and the dog walking in the flower beds have resulted in a few toppled spikes

Lpbelia cardinalis flowers with fleabane daisy hanging over the garden bed border 

Cardinal flower has been a great performer in our garden, often filling that gap between summer and autumn blooming perennials. Thanks to Clay and Limestone for hosting this monthly meme. Be sure to check out Gail's blog to find more great plants. 


  1. I love this beauty! It rained here all weekend and maid taking photos difficult, but your hummer shots are wonderful. Happy WW. gail

    1. thanks Gail! They are so fun to watch fly around the flowers. I will miss them when they are gone. They bring such energy to the garden.

  2. This is a beautiful and amazing plant. I so enjoy watching the hummingbird activity around it at the arboretum. Your photos are beautiful, as always! Believe it or not, we still have hummingbirds here in Wisconsin. The weather will be warm through the beginning of October, so hopefully some will stick around a bit longer. Happy autumn!

    1. I notice that this past weekend many of our RTH left. We still have a few around but not near the activity we had last week. Shorter days are telling them it is time to head further south. Enjoy your fall days and those hummers that are sticking around!

  3. It's a striking plant...I can't believe that you were able to take such a glorious photo of the hummingbird, esp. between rainfalls. I would have sat there for hours and still missed it, lol. I did pat myself on the back when you listed a variety of fall natives, all of whom are in my garden. I've learned so much over the years from gardening friends like you :)


Post a Comment

One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin

Popular Posts