Superb in hanging baskets, as edging and in herbaceous borders, the lobelia group consists of tender, half and fully hardy sub-shrubs, herbaceous perennials and annuals. Their flowers are white, red or blue.

Suitable site and soil. A partially shaded position where the soil is deep, well-manured and moist is best.

Cultivation and care. Plant out tender species in late spring, others in early spring. Keep the soil moist especially in tubs.

Propagation. Can be grown from seeds, and larger herbaceous plants can be divided in early spring.

Recommended varieties. Varieties of perennial L. erinus, either in pendulous form for hanging baskets or tubs, or as compact bedding plants for border edges, are grown as annuals and flower profusely from spring until frost stops them. They grow to about 15cm – 6in; mixed colour varieties such as ‘String of Pearls’ and ‘Colour Cascade’ are popular. Good single colour varieties are: ‘Crystal Palace’ – deep blue flowers and bronze leaves; the slow-growing, pendulous ‘Sapphire’ – blue flowers with white centres. Different to the dwarf bedding varieties are the erect, clump forming perennials. Recommended are L.cardinalis growing to 76cm – 2ft with red flowers in the middle summer months and L. siphilitica growing to 90cm – 3ft with long sprays of blue flowers from late summer to mid autumn. L. siphilitica flourishes in damp, heavy soil.

Pests and diseases. May suffer from fungal diseases.


Plant L. cardinalis along with Geranium psilostemon, purple delphiniums and campanulas, fuchsias, clematis, heliotrope and red lychins for a royal display of red and purple in a border.

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