Lobelia laxiflora (Mexican Lobelia)
Mexican lobelia, Lobelia laxiflora, is not seen often in Sonoma County gardens; nonetheless, it is a good candidate for both groomed borders and informal areas where it withstands some neglect and little water.
Lobelia laxiflora is a sun-loving perennial with brilliant, two-lipped, orange-red, tubular flowers with a bright yellow throat that lights up garden beds in summer.
- Plants need only occasional water after becoming established.
- With excessive water, this lobelia spreads quickly and can become invasive.
- With less water, it stays in check, thrives, and blooms regardless.
- Clumps slowly spread into broad colonies that may be welcome to fill open space. Underground rhizomes must be removed to limit unwanted expansion.
- Red-tinted stems up to 3 ft. tall are clothed with narrow, linear leaves. Hummingbirds feed on nectar.
- As multiple stems grow with age, the plant tends to assume a bushy form to 3 ft. wide.
Mexican lobelia is suited to low-water gardens and often endures for years when ignored completely.
- It blooms from early summer to frost, most heavily when given periodic irrigation in the hottest microclimates. In partial shade, less water is needed.
- Deciduous in winter, growth renews the following spring.
- Planted in full sun, it needs the same care as similar blooming Zauschneria californica (syn. Epilobium—California fuchsia). Both adapt to nearly any well-drained soil.
- These two species are completely unrelated but both are drought-tolerant perennials with tubular blossoms. This lobelia tends to be more upright than zauschneria with its more lax and arching stems.
Related Lobelia Species
Gardeners may be more familiar with a popular annual Lobelia or a different perennial species.
- Annual Lobelia erinus with blue or purple blossoms is frequently used as a trailing interest in hanging baskets, containers, or as an edging along garden beds.
- It overwinters only in very warm microclimates where temperatures stay well above freezing.
- This species may appear to be a perennial due to its tendency to survive mild winters and to self-sow readily.
- The water-loving Lobelia cardinalis may come to mind with its rich green foliage and striking dark red, tubular flowers attractive to hummingbirds.
- This cardinal flower likes some shade and loves water; it thrives only in constantly moist soil.
- It can be planted it in a pot and placed in a bog or water garden.