About Cardinal Flower: The brilliant color of this flower earned it its common name, which refers to the traditional red vestments of cardinals. Historical records show that explorers first encountered this native plant near a river in Canada, and sent it back to Europe for classification. The genus name Lobelia honors Flemish botanist Mathias de Lobel. This flower received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
Cardinal Flower Germination: Direct sow in late fall, planting on the surface of the soil since these seeds need light to germinate. For spring planting, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 60 days before planting. To start indoors, sow the seed 6-8 weeks before the last frost of spring and keep the soil lightly moist until germination. Transplant the seedlings as soon as they can safely be handled and there is no chance of frost.
Growing Cardinal Flower Seeds: Keep seedings well watered and control weeds. These plants need continual moisture, and thrive even in very wet soil. They may self-sow in growing conditions. Mature plants can be divided in early spring. These flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and flourish near ponds or streams. Deer, rabbit, and small pests usually avoid this plant.
Harvesting Cardinal Flower: These blooms make excellent cut flowers. Choose stalks with flowers that have just opened and place them in water immediately; strip the foliage that will fall below the surface of the water.
Saving Cardinal Flower Seeds: As soon as the flowers fade, watch the seed heads carefully since the tiny seed can easily blow away in the wind. Shake the seed heads over a container to remove the ripe seed; repeat until all the seed has ripened. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Cardinal Flower Info: Origin: US Native Wildflower Other Common Names: Scarlet Lobelia Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 24 in to 60 in Spacing: 15 in to 18 in Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Wet to Medium USDA Zone: 2a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 419,000 Produces a plant with serrated, dark green leaves and spikes of bright red, deeply lobed flowers.