FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #3 – Great Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Photo by northcreeknurseries.com

Flowers: Blue to white

Height: 12-36” (30 to 100 cm)

Width: 8-12” (20 to 30 cm)

Light: Full Sun to Part Sun

Great Lobelia is a member of the Campanula family, hence its pretty, bell-shaped flowers. Profuse in blooming, the flowers are held atop tall, straight plants in clusters beloved by pollinators. Bumblebees and the odd hummingbird are known to enjoy a tipple from this plant!

However, Great Lobelia is also quite pest resistant, so no insect gets much of a snack from its leaves. This is because it contains a chemical compound, lobeline, which is even currently being used in medical research.

Usually found in wet meadows or steam sides, this is one plant that prefers moist soil to wet – although it does not like consistently wet roots. Great Lobelia can also survive with some light shade, especially if that means the soil is rich and fertile. We have some by our frog pond in the Backyard Garden, as well as in a central bed which is drier.

Photo by zinnes.net

A late summer bloomer, this is a great plant to include in your garden as you plan for the whole season. It is important to have plants that bloom at different times of the year for maximum aesthetic effect. Many yellow-flowering plants bloom in the same period, meaning Great Lobelia provides excellent colour contrast.

Great Lobelia plants tend to live for a few years before simply not reappearing in the spring; however, since they set seed we don’t notice any gap in our beds – we simply have newer plants.

Do you want an impressive display of blue flowers? Then Great Lobelia is the plant for you! It works well even in smaller gardens as it provides vertical interest without copious horizontal spread. Why not take some home at this year’s plant sale?

Read about our other top ten:

#4 – Spreading Dogbane

#5 – Bigleaf Aster

#6 – Yarrow

#7 – Lanceleaf Coreopsis

#8 – Blue Flag Iris

#9 – Wild Columbine

#10 – Obedient Plant


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