Lobelia 'La Fresco'
Common Name: lobelia
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Campanulaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Plum-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade

Culture

Grow in rich, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Needs constant moisture. Tolerates full sun in northern climates, but appreciates part afternoon shade in hot summer climates of the lower Midwest and South. In nature, lobelias are typically found in wet areas such as bogs, moist meadows and along streams. Divide clumps in spring. Root mulch should be applied in cold winter climates such as St. Louis to protect the root system and to prevent root heaving.

This hybrid is similarly well-suited to very moist soil conditions, but does surprisingly well in average garden soils as long as those soils are not permitted to dry out.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lobelia is a genus of about 370 species of annuals, perennials, shrubs and some aquatics. They grow in tropical and temperate areas worldwide but many come from North, Central and South America.

Genus name honors Matthias de l'Obel (1538-1616), French physician and botanist, who with Pierre Pena wrote Stirpium Adversaria Nova (1570) which detailed a new plant classification system based upon leaves.

‘La Fresco’ is a hybrid cross between Lobelia cardinalis and Lobelia siphilitica introduced by Thurman Maness. It is a clump-forming perennial which typically grows to 24-30" tall and to 12-20" wide. Ovate to lanceolate pointed green leaves (to 4-6" long) appear in a basal rosette in spring. Flower stems rise up from the rosettes in August bearing showy, upright, terminal racemes (to 8" long) of tubular, densely- packed, plum-purple flowers which bloom from August to October. Each flower is two-lipped, with the three lobes of the lower lip appearing more prominent than the two lobes of the upper lip. Hummingbirds and butterflies love the flowers.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Snails and slugs may damage the foliage.

Garden Uses

Effective in moist areas of woodland/shade gardens, wet meadows or along streams or ponds. Also adds late summer bloom and height to borders as long as soils are kept uniformly moist.