Friday, 2 April 2010

Great Blue Lobelia - Lobelia siphilitica

Well, my apologies for not blogging this past week, or for responding to all the great comments on my other posts. It's been a rather busy time. I'd like to thank everyone for all the responses to recent blog posts, and I'm looking forward to visiting other garden blogs again! Have been in the garden and had a really great open house, so that's been keeping me away from the computer. Feeling out of the loop!
Thought I'd get back into the swing of things by posting about one of my favourite plants in my garden...

This lovely, true blue specimen is Lobelia siphilitica and was in cultivation in England as early as 1665.
The common name is Blue Lobelia for obvious reasons, and it is a true lobelia, as you just have to compare it to it's red relative, the beautiful red flowered Lobelia cardinalis.
This blue version, however, has a thicker stem, a much larger flower than it's relative, but you'll find it growing under similar conditions as the cardinals, ie: damp areas, shady spots, which it especially prefers during the high heat of summer, and of course, near streams.

Mine, pictured above, is in a partly shady spot of my garden, (except for the time that I took this photo!), and so far, seems to be thriving.
It starts blooming early August, and went right on doing that until frost.

Lobelia siphilitica is a herbaceous perennial, growing 2 to 3 feet tall (60-90 cm), with a spread of 1 to 1.5 feet spread (30-45 cm).
To propagate, divide clumps in spring, and, it may self-seed as well. It's very hardy, which I like, from Zone 4 - 10, USDA.

Just a note on some folklore about this plant. You may have noticed the name siphilitica, which, yes, you guessed it, is similar to siphilis, and it was thought, way back when, that it was a cure for siphilis, which of course we know now that it's not!
It is poisonous, at least the seeds are, so don't eat any of it!

Happy Gardening!


Bernie said...

It's such a beautiful colour ...I was wondering about the name and now I know ... I really don't want to eat the seeds, thanks!

GardenJoy4Me said...

Hello fellow Canadian gardener !
A friend recommended this plant to me .. I tried it but some how it was not happy in my garden sadly .. but I still admire it .. from afar ? LOL .. there are so many gorgeous native and heirloom plants to try it can be overwhelming ;-)