Botanical name: Lobelia erinus Family: Campanulaceae (Bellflower family)
Lobelia was introduced more than 200 years ago from the region around the Cape of Good Hope. The original wild forms of lobelia have been bred to bloom more profusely. There are both trailing varieties, with billowing masses of blossoms, and more compact bedding types, seldom exceeding 6 inches in height. The 1/2- to 3/4-inch-wide flowers, borne along each stem, are blue on the common varieties, but white and carmine types have also been developed. The flowers are irregular and bisexual, and are borne singly or in racemes, umbles or spikes. Petals, sepals and stamens are in fives. The petals are fused forming a two-lipped corolla, which consists of spreading lobes and a split tube. The upper lip consists of two often smaller and erect lobes and the lower lip of three spreading lobes. Lobelia is prized for window boxes, hanging baskets, planters, and ground covers. Although the plants do best in full sun and moist, rich soil where summers are cool, they will grow surprisingly well in hot areas if given partial shade. Lobelia is not sown directly in the garden because it does not begin to flower until two months after seed is planted. This plant attracts butterflies.
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