Thursday, September 06, 2007
Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
Great Blue Lobelia
Synonyms: High Belia, Louisiana Lobelia, Blue Cardinal Flower
I bought one pot of this plant 20 years ago at a plant sale and have been battling it ever since. It is a beautiful color blue but I have had problems with it seeding too much. I finally have contained it to a small area of the island garden and have actually grown to like it. I am not sure if it is a short lived perennial or a biennial but the seedlings seem to flower the first year. It grows fairly tall (up to 3 feet) and is hardy to USDA Zone 5, at least with reports of it surviving in Zone 3. All in all I guess I would recommend it but not for the real tidy garden. More for a moist to wet area that you want a bit more of a wild appearance. I think it would look wonderful in a mass planting. This Eastern United States native likes a little shade in hot areas.
There seems to be a little variation in the color of the flower. Mine are this rich blue but there are purple and white versions. This plant’s species name, siphilitica, refers to its use by early Americans as a treatment for venereal disease.
The work never seems to stop in Manhattan.