Lobelia siphilitica habit and habitat

mrtulinSeptember 1, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, when they started blooming, I remembered that I had indeed purchased and planted these last year. They are all growing in nearly full sun and have been only moderately well watered this season. (Who has had the patience to water any thing really well continuously this particular summer?)

They have a very lax habit. The stems crawl and sprawl on the ground although the flowers and several inches of stem are upright.

If you find staking effective I'd like to know. Looking at these plants I'm not sure they will be completely upright without a harness. And I have no more patience than it takes to put a plant ring around them.

Are your lax in habit? How do you use this plant? Stake? Imagine its a groundcover? What are its companions?

The color is fun, but this is aplant I want to work with, not against...it is too late in the summer and still too damned hot to fight a losing battle!

Thanks for any direct experience with Lobelia siphilitica.


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Marie, I planted this at a friend's house in two spots.

One bed is a very dry shade bed. It is quite light, bright, high shade, with one part getting some hot afternoon sun. I've greatly improved the soil here and the lush growth of several groundcovers has helped with the dryness (like a living mulch). However, the lobelia is less than vigorous, and as you described, flops and then grows upright.

I tend to think it is a moisture thing, because the other spot I have this planted in is a very wet garden - parts of the garden have standing water, and even in this drought it is damp. The lobelia here (not in standing water, but still very damp soil) is doing much, much better - fuller, bigger, more upright. Even though the planting here is newer, it is much bigger and more established-looking than the scraggly groupings in the dry shade bed. Oh, this wet bed gets about half sun, half shade. The lobelia here stands upright on its own, for the most part.

I was just thinking the other day that I will most likely move the lobelia in the dry bed to another spot. It's just not liking where it is. I never stake stuff - just never get around to it. I'll walk by, make a mental note that such-and-such needs staking, and then just never get back to do it!

I also have some in my own garden, in a sadly neglected shade garden that gets almost no supplemental water. This shade comes from both the house (garden is right up against it) and from trees, and it does get maybe an hour of midday sun. The lobelia here is doing better than my friend's dry shade bed, but again not nearly as well as the wet bed. So I really think moisture is the key.

I do love the color of this plant. The biggest downside, in my opinion, is that it's seedlings look exactly like a certain weed, to my eye, and I can never tell the difference until they bloom, so I leave them there and hope they are the lobelia!


    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 11:28PM
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I planted one plant of this about 10 years ago and have been trying to get rid of it ever since. It has seeded into my lawn, veggie garden, and all flower beds but one. I don't find it flops - my yard is pretty sunny, though I do have beds with half sun, and my soil is very fine sandy loam, so it holds water pretty well.

So my advice is that if you grow this plant, dead-head it!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 10:47PM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

I planted this last year in the "boggiest" area of my garden. It gets only part sun at best there and is boggy mostly in the winter and spring. I thought this would be the answer to what I read about its lax growth but it grows exactly as the original poster described. Its blue flowers are very appealing and it it blooms during the August lull when so many perennials are not at their best so it has its merits. I think I will only give it one more year though because my garden is too small. The last poster commented on it seeding around and I was concerned about this but it seems well behaved for me. I do deadhead though.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 8:34PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I planted these about 4 years ago. I have a dry garden with a lot of part shade. They didn't come back the second year. I think it was probably the dryness.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 2:58PM
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Thanks everyone for your ideas. I got them transplanted into what is probably not an ideal environment. I don't have a wet or boggy place. But they look nice where they are this fall, and it will be a bonus if they survive and grow.

I consider them a bonus, anyway. I bought them half price a "year or two ago", didn't plant them for ever. They overwintered in pots...I don't even remember when I got them into my raised beds where I grow plants "on." and didn't know what they were until one bloomed a couple of weeks ago.

Talk about neglect. Maybe they are toughened up enough to withstand part shade and tropical temperatures.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 9:56PM
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