Great Blue Lobelia

I have two species of lobelias growing naturally in my yard, cardinal flower, and the great blue lobelia. Between the two of them they flower for much of the summer and well into fall, both among my longest lasting flowers. The cardinal flower begins to flower in early summer and has only finished flowering a few weeks ago. The great blue lobelia is still going strong, in spite of some intermittent very cold nights. There are few pollinators around now, but they are still being visited by some very tough bumblebees.

I have found the individual plants tend to be short-lived, generally surviving only a few years. But watching them come and go for over a decade here, there are always at least a few plants around. They tend to prefer moist soil, and since I don’t water them generally it seems they do better in wetter years. The seeds will survive a while in the soil, and under favorable conditions suddenly more plants will pop up.

I imagine this will be their last flowers for the year. They are already looking a bit ragged, though half a dozen plants continue to flower now in my garden. There is a very unseasonable stretch of weather predicted with lows in the 20s or possibly even lower this coming week, and I imagine that will put an end to their show. I will miss their beautiful blue flowers, and all the pollinators they nurture.

Over the years, I have found another meaning to their common name, they are really great plants. I look forward to their return next year, and the surprise of never knowing quite where they will appear next. No matter how carefully I plan my garden, nature always has the final say in its design. I’m happy to welcome lobelias wherever they choose to grow.