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June 17, 2022



Lobelia is a versatile plant that can be used in various ways in your garden and it is popular with hummingbirds and other pollinators, making it a perfect companion for fellow pollinator-attracting plants in your garden.

Spreading varieties of lobelia make for an excellent ground cover option while trailing individuals can be used in containers and hanging baskets for a dramatic look.

Upright varieties will stand out when arranged in the center of your garden while adding height to your landscaping.


Hot Purple Lobelia


Although most varieties are compact, growing only 3 to 5 inches (7.5-12.5 cm.) tall, others will grow up to 3 feet (1 m.). Colors are also variable, with white, pink, red and blue species available. However, violet-blue is probably one of the most commonly seen. These plants make great additions in borders, along creeks or ponds, as ground covers, or in containers—especially hanging baskets.


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. 

Loosen soil in the planting area and dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the root ball.

Remove the plant from the pot and tease out roots if potbound.

Set the plant in the hole with the base level with the
Backfill the hole with soil and tamp down slightly to remove air pockets. Water well. 

Soil:  Lobelia prefers rich, well-amended soil with a slightly acidic pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Mulch with a layer of compost to add nutrients, suppress weeds and retain moisture. For containers, use a high-quality all-purpose potting mix. 

Mulch: You can put a light layer of mulch around plants to help keep moisture in and weeds down. Be sure that you keep mulch about 1 inch away from the stem to prevent rotting.

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. 

Fertilizing:  Lobelia flowers best with regular fertilizing. Apply a time-release granular fertilizer like Osmocote at the time of planting and supplement with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer every 4-6 weeks. 

How to deadhead lobelia:  If plants become leggy or flowers begin to wane, lightly shear plants by up to a third and fertilize to encourage new branching and flowering.

Lobelia Hanging Basket
Lobelia with Purple Flowers

Design Ideas

Lobelia works with many other plants including petunias. Plant it with like colors for a cool scheme or with warm colors for a contrast.

Cascading and trailing Lobelia varieties are great for hanging baskets and window boxes. Their stems may tumble over container edges to a length of twenty inches.

For early-season color, combine lobelia with other mid-to-late spring bloomers such as bleeding heart, sweet alyssum, calendula or poppies. 

Use lobelia as a colorful bedding plant underneath roses and other shrubs. 

Liven up the front of a mixed border with pockets of lobelia for consistent season-long color while trees, shrubs and perennials go in and out of bloom. 

Add lobelia to fall plantings to contrast with warm harvest colors of gold, orange and brown. 

Use lobelia as edging plants to line a pathway, with a single color or by alternating different hues. 

Mass a spreading type along a slope or allow to spill over a rock wall.

Proven Winners:

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