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Casimir Mukhin
Casimir Mukhin


Lobelia (/loʊˈbiːliə, lə-/[4][5][6]) is a genus of flowering plants comprising 415 species,[7] with a subcosmopolitan distribution primarily in tropical to warm temperate regions of the world, a few species extending into cooler temperate regions.[8] They are known generally as lobelias.[9]



Several species are cultivated as ornamental plants in gardens. These include Lobelia cardinalis syn. Lobelia fulgens (cardinal flower or Indian pink), Lobelia siphilitica (blue lobelia), and Lobelia erinus, which is used for edging and window boxes.[10]

Lobelia has been used as "asthmador" in Appalachian traditional medicine.[22] Two species, L. siphilitica and L. cardinalis, were once considered a cure for syphilis.[23] Herbalist Samuel Thomson popularized medicinal use of lobelia in the United States in the early 19th century.[20]

Many members of the genus are considered poisonous, with some containing the toxic principle lobeline.[24] Because of lobeline's similarity to nicotine, the internal use of lobelia may be dangerous to susceptible populations, including children, pregnant women,[25] and individuals with cardiac disease. Excessive use will cause nausea and vomiting.[26] It is not recommended for use by pregnant women and is best administered by a practitioner qualified in its use. It also has a chemical known as lobellicyonycin,[citation needed] which may cause dizziness.

About eleven species native to Mexico and Central America have spurs on the flowers. These spurred lobelias appear to form a monophyletic group. Most have been classified in the genera Heterotoma (or sometimes Calcaratolobelia). However, since their closest relatives such as Lobelia anatina are in Lobelia, Koopman and Ayers classify them in Lobelia.[30]

My favorite color is blue, so I go absolutely giddy every spring when annual lobelia plants start showing up at my local nursery. Not only do many varieties have true blue flowers, a rarity in the garden world, many also love cool weather and are in full splendor during spring and fall. They are a must-have for my spring containers, and anywhere else in my garden where I want to add a blast of blue.

Very! They make up less than 10% of the plant kingdom. Blue lobelias are among this elite group, which also includes blue sea holly (Eryngium planum), Siberian larkspur (Delphinium grandiflorum), Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus africanus), Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), blue daisy (Felicia amelloides), and blue hydrangeas. See more of our favorite blue flowers for your garden.

Although annual types are widely available at garden centers in the spring, you can also start your own plants from seed, sown indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost date. Don't transplant seedlings outdoors until a few weeks after the last frost date. Perennial lobelias will often self-sow given the right conditions and usually bloom the first year from seed.

Still, human studies are needed to better understand how lobeline affects this condition. Currently, lobelia cannot be recommended as an alternative treatment for conventional antidepressant medications.

Lobeline, the active compound in Lobelia inflata, may help treat asthma, depression, ADHD, and drug abuse, but human research is limited. Compounds like lobinaline in other types of lobelia may have antioxidant effects.

However, research in humans is limited, and lobelia may cause adverse side effects or death in very high doses. Since there are limited research and multiple negative side effects, many would recommend avoiding lobelia in most cases.

Lobelia siphilitica, commonly called great lobelia or blue cardinal flower, is a Missouri native perennial which typically grows in moist to wet locations along streams, sloughs, springs, swamps, meadows and in low wooded areas. A clump-forming perennial which features light to dark blue, tubular, 2-lipped flowers with the three lobes of the lower lip appearing more prominent than the two lobes of the upper lip. Flowers arise from the upper leaf axils forming a dense terminal raceme atop stiff, unbranched, leafy stalks typically rising 2-3' tall. Finely-toothed, lance-shaped, light green leaves (to 5" long). Late summer bloom period.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.Species name of siphilitica arose from a prior medicinal use of the plant in the treatment of venereal disease.

The lobelia plant (Lobelia spp.) is an attractive annual herb with many varieties. Some of these even include biennial species. Lobelia is an easy-to-grow, carefree plant that enjoys cool weather. This summertime bloomer will continue to produce flowers on up through the first frost. Growing lobelia is an asset to the garden.

Annual lobelia will grow nearly anywhere. Lobelia seeds can be sown directly in the garden or indoors for later transplanting. These plants typically require an area with full sun but will tolerate partial shade. They also prefer moist, rich soil. Start indoors about 10 to 12 weeks prior to the last frost in your region. Spread the tiny seeds just on top of the soil and water thoroughly. Place them in a warm, well-lit area.

Once established, the lobelia plant requires little maintenance. During hot, dry periods, care of lobelia requires that the plant should receive frequent watering, however, especially those in containers. A general-purpose liquid fertilizer can be given once a month or every four to six weeks, if desired.

Sometimes called dwarf lobelia to distinguish from tall perennial types, many lobelia annual varieties occur in hues of sky or true blue, a hard-to-find flower color that is coveted by gardeners. Lobelia flowers can also be white, pink or purple. The small two-lipped tubular flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, bees and other insect pollinators.

Growing lobelia is easy. Hardy in USDA zones 9-11, this lobelia type is a tender perennial grown as an annual in most regions. Lobelia bloom time ranges from spring to fall, though it flowers best during cooler months. These versatile flowering plants can be used in hanging baskets, window boxes, for pathway or border edging, in mass plantings, or wherever a cheerful splash of color is needed.

How to plant: Lobelia plant performs best with full sun to partial shade and rich, well-draining soil. Choose a site that receives at least 4-6 hours of direct sun. Follow these steps and space garden lobelia plants 6-18 inches apart, depending on the variety.

Watering: Keep lobelia evenly moist but not soggy. Overwatering may cause root rot or other diseases. Water regularly during extreme heat or prolonged dry spells. Too little water can cause plant stress, stunted growth, fewer flowers or brown foliage.

Hot weather can slow down or halt production of lobelia flowers. Keep plants well-watered during heat spells. The Proven Winners Laguna series is bred for heat tolerance and more prolific summer flowering.

The nonstop bloom, beautiful flower colors and ability to thrive in full sun or partial shade makes lobelia a versatile addition to any landscape. Here are just a few ideas on how to use lobelia in your yard:

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. Foliage contains alkaloids which are very toxic to humans if ingested.

Lobelia performs best in cool weather but is sensitive to frost. In warmer regions, lobelia should be planted in partial shade but can grow in full sun where summers are cool or hazy. Although lobelia will cease flowering when temperatures are too warm, they will quickly recover when temperatures drop in early fall. Provided with rich, fertile, well-drained soil and abundant moisture, lobelia is very easy to grow and quite a spectacular little plant.

Many cultivars are available: 'Blue Moon' has dark blue flowers; 'Cambridge Blue' has clear, soft blue flowers on compact, upright 4- to 6-inch plants; 'Crystal Palace', bronze-green leaves, dark blue flowers on compact plants; 'Paper Moon' has white flowers; 'Rosamunde', carmine red flowers with a white eye; 'White Lady'and 'Snowball', pure white flowers; 'Blue Cascade', 'Fountain' series, 'Hamburgia', and 'Sapphire' have trailing forms, suitable for hanging baskets or raised planters. 'Sapphire' has purple flowers with a white eye and is one of the best trailing lobelias.

Native to eastern North America, lobelia has a long history of use by indigenous tribes for its wellness-supporting properties. Lobelia inflata is an herbaceous annual that likes to grow in compact soils. Lobelia leaf was popular with Eclectic herbalists at the turn of the century and has a tradition of use in external applications, smoking blends, and infusions as lobelia tea. A strong botanical to be used with respect, lobelia herb can also be used to make liquid extracts.

Glade lobelia (Lobelia glandulosa) is a charming perennial wildflower found in wet prairies, marshes, swamps and wet pinelands throughout Florida where it attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. It is largely unnoticed in the wild until it flowers.

  • Perennial varieties of lobelia do come back each year. However, the common garden variety, Lobelia erinus, is most often grown as an annual and will not survive the winters in climates outside USDA gardening zones 10-11. The plants can drop seeds, however, which may sprout and grow the following spring."}},"@type": "Question","name": "Is lobelia fragrant?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "Although it produces beautiful flowers, unfortunately, the blooms of Lobelia erinus do not have much fragrance.","@type": "Question","name": "Do lobelia plants spread?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "Lobelia flowers spread in the landscape, but they are not aggressive.","@type": "Question","name": "Does lobelia attract butterflies?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "Although each individual lobelia blossom is very small, the plant produces flowers in great quantities, and pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds, can't resist these pretty blooms.","@type": "Question","name": "Is lobelia a good cut flower?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "While perennial varieties of lobelia can be beautiful cut flowers, the annual lobelia is best enjoyed in the garden. The thin stems and small flowers do not last well once cut from the plant."]}]}] .icon-garden-review-1fill:#b1dede.icon-garden-review-2fill:none;stroke:#01727a;stroke-linecap:round;stroke-linejoin:round > buttonbuttonThe Spruce The Spruce's Instagram The Spruce's TikTok The Spruce's Pinterest The Spruce's Facebook NewslettersClose search formOpen search formSearch DecorRoom Design

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