Lovely Lobelias

I love the different kinds of plants you can find across the Great Plains. There are whole genuses stacked full of exceptional plants for both native and landscaped areas.  One of my favorites is the lobelia genus. Here in Northeast Kansas, I can find 2 of 3 great species growing in completely different areas.


Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is a water loving plant. My first discovery of it growing along a watery ditch just 4 miles south of the nursery was pure joy. Great blue lobelia grows 3 to 6 feet tall and begins blooming with brilliantly blue flowers in late July and continues into September. Butterflies, bees, wasps, moths, and other pollinators love this plant. While I discovered it by water, in my garden at home it grows nicely at 3 feet tall in a dry spot.  Grow these in mass for a bright spot of blue in late summer with the brilliant yellows of rudbeckia and the bright pink of Allium ‘Millennium’.

Great Blue Lobelia growing wild in Brown County KS

Cardinal flower is a another great lobelia found in Kansas. Although I personally have not seen it growing in the wild, I have used it landscaping for many years. There are several cultivars of this native plant with its striking scarlet flowers, but I prefer the native which grows 3 to 6 feet tall. The fan shaped red flowers begin their show in July and continue often through September. They too can tolerate either dry or wet soils, but prefer the wetter ones.  Put these in a focal point in the garden, your eyes will be attracted to the bright spot of scarlet.

Cardinal Flower

Pale Spike Lobelia (Lobelia spicata) is a pale comparison to the above mentioned natives, but has its own gentle charms. This pale pink to white flowered lobelia blooms from June to July and grows 1 to 3 feet tall. It prefers drier soils on slopes and hills and can be found in prairie remnants in Northeast Kansas. I first saw it at a remnant just 1.5 miles from my house. I have not tried planting these in landscapes yet, but time will tell how it does.

Pale Spike Lobelia in a prairie remnant near Kennekuk, KS

Come down to Grimm’s Gardens to get your native lobelias, we have both Great Blue and Cardinal flower.


Happy planting!

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