Thursday, September 06, 2007

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Great Blue Lobelia
Lobelia siphilitica
(low-BEE-lee-uh) (sigh-fy-LY-tih-kuh)
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.


dot said...

Two completely different photos and I like both of them. You know how to pickum!
The color of those flowers is just gorgous!

Ki said...

Very nice looking plant. We have the red lobelia, Lobelia cardinalis that has been blooming for about a month now but interestingly I haven't seen the Great Blue.

OldRoses said...

Great blue Lobelia was seeded in my gardens by the birds. It has since become one of my favorites. Thanks for featuring this beauty.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

dot, thanks.

ki, once I learned to control the seeding this one has grown on me. The Cardinal flower is a beauty and a bit more refined than its cousin, the Great Blue.

or, that was good luck as I see this plant for sale at a lot of nurseries.