Lobelia × speciosa

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: lobelia
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Campanulaceae
Native Range: Cosmopolitan
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Lavender to pink to red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Deer, Wet Soil

Culture

Best grown in rich, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Needs constant moisture. Tolerates brief flooding. Thrives in bog gardens. Soils should never be allowed to dry out. Tolerates full sun in northern climates, but appreciates part afternoon shade in hot summer climates of the lower Midwest and South. Root mulch should be applied in cold winter climates such as St. Louis to protect the root system and to prevent root heaving. Mulch will also help retain soil moisture. Some of the hybrid cultivars of Lobelia x speciosa can be grown from seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lobelia x speciosa is a hybrid designation that covers plants developed from L. fulgens, L. cardinalis and L. siphilitica. These hybrids are noted for having attractive green foliage (often flushed with red, purple or bronze), attractive flowers (shades of lavender, pink or red) and a long summer bloom period (July to September). Plants typically grow to 2 1/2' tall. Narrow-ovate leaves appear in a basal rosette in spring. Flower stems rise from the rosettes in July bearing showy, terminal, bracteate spikes of tubular flowers. Each flower (1-2" long) has two lips, 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.

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.

Specific epithet means showy.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Snails and slugs may damage the foliage. Some hybrid lobelias have not performed well at the Kemper Center in St. Louis for reasons that at this point are unclear. L. x speciosa hybrids are often short-lived and are sometimes grown as annuals.

Garden Uses

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