Lobelia is a genus of flowering plant. The small flowers are usually blue to blue-violet, but white and pink varieties have been developed as well. It does well in planters, baskets and window boxes, and makes colorful ground cover. The plants do best in full sun where summers are cool, especially in moist, rich soil. However, they will also thrive in hotter areas if given partial shade.

Lobelia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some butterfly species.

The genus has 360–400 species, growing mainly in tropical to warm temperate regions of the world, a few species extending into cooler temperate regions.[1] English names include Lobelia, Asthma Weed, Indian Tobacco, Pukeweed, and Vomitwort. The genus is named after the Belgian botanist Matthias de Lobel (1538–1616).[1]

In the United Kingdom lobelias are not winter hardy. Gardeners buy them as bedding plants but they die in the autumn.

Illustration Legousia speculum-veneris0

Selected species Edit

Cultivation and usesEdit

Several species are cultivated as ornamental plants in gardens. These include Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower or Indian Pink), Lobelia siphilitica (Blue Lobelia), Lobelia fulgens and Lobelia erinus, as well as some hybrids.

Lobelia erinus, a South African annual plant that includes many cultivated selections in a wide variety of colors. They are grown in beds, large pots, window boxes and in hanging baskets. The plants are most often grown away from sunny hot southern exposures (northern exposures in the southern hemisphere) in soils that are moisture retentive.

In the Victorian language of flowers, the lobelia symbolizes malevolence and ill will.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.

Further readingEdit

  • Everitt, J.H., Lonard, R.L., Little, C.R. Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico, Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, 2007. ISBN 0-89672-614-2
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