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Growing Lobelia Flowers

Delight Your Garden with Intense Color and Magnetic Charm

by Frances Santos

Growing Lobelia FlowersThe lobelia (lobelia erinus) is a beautiful annual flower that can definitely be an asset to your flower garden. This summertime bloomer exhibits round leaves and blooms up to half an inch in diameter.

Most lobelia varieties are small, growing 3-5 inches in height, but others can grow as high as 3 feet. Colors vary that include white, yellow, pink, blue and red, which are two-lipped or tubular. However, the violet-blue species is perhaps one of the most popular because it’s quite showy and captivating.

The lobelia flowers blossom in mid-summer until the first frost. Lobelias are carefree plants that thrive in cool weather. They make great accents in borders and along ponds or creeks. They are well-known as trailing plants for hanging baskets, in containers, edging lawns, and as ground covers.

Are All Lobelias Poisonous?

If you have pets or kids, this is a major concern when growing any type of flowering plants. I hate to break it but the answer is yes, Lobelias are poisonous. Small doses of lobelia flowers may not cause any harm, but signs of a reaction may show in higher quantities.

Despite this, lobelia has had a role in herbal medicine, such as treatment for breathing problems. Smoking L. inflate (Indian tobacco) was once used by Native Americans to treat asthma.

Pukeweed was also prescribed by doctors to induce vomiting. Here are some examples of side effects: dizziness, stomach upset, cough, seizures and changes in heart rhythm. Reaction varies depending on your sensitivity to lobelia.

Propagating Lobelia

Lobelia plants are propagated by division of rooted plantlets. However, they can be propagated from seeds. Lobelia seeds are tiny and seedling growth is slow so it is best to sow the seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before transplanting them outdoors. It is recommended to start the seeds prior to the last frost in your area. Lobelia requires full sun, although it can tolerate a semi-shaded location. The soil must be rich, moist and drains well. Scatter the seeds on top of the soil and water well. The germination process takes about 20 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the seedlings emerge, thin them out. After the winter has passed and the seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, it’s time to transplant them to your garden. Space the seedlings 4-6 inches apart.

How to Grow Lobelia Flowers

Lobelia grows well in cool climates, although it can grow nearly anywhere. It only requires a little maintenance. Water lobelia plants frequently during summer or hot, dry periods, especially those planted in containers. But make sure not to overdo it because too much water can drown the plant and wet, boggy soil may result to diseases or molds.

Trim off dead flowers, termed as “deadheading” to promote health and neat appearance. Take note, x. speciosa varieties may rot in winter. So remove the dead flower stems if you see that good sized plantlets have already formed around the base. Feed your Lobelia plants with a general purpose fertilizer every month.

Lobelia Diseases

Lobelias are sometimes prone to root rot. You may also notice spots on the leaves of young plants, resulting to stem rot.