A lobelia, also known as a cardinal flower, is a plant that has more than 350 species. One of the most popular is the Lobelia erinus, an annual that is often found in hanging baskets and low edgings. A very colorful flowering plant, lobelia is a favorite among hobby gardeners. Companion planting is the act of pairing flowers and vegetables that are beneficial to each other. Some flowers attract certain bugs that eat the predators of others, while others emit an odor or fragrance that repels certain pests. Still others are companions because they enjoy the same conditions. This is the case with lobelia. Companion planting is a must if you plan on making gardening a lifelong pursuit. Not only does it increase the beauty of your garden, but it teaches you valuable information about plant likes and dislikes.
Lobelia prefers shady growing conditions and very moist soil. The further south you live, the more you need to keep them out of direct sunlight. The north side of your home is best. If the soil is dry, they will tolerate it, but only with frequent watering. This is directly related to their preference for moist soil.
Where to Plant
As mentioned, lobelia likes shady areas and moist soil. For this reason, it is a good plant to put around ponds, natural pools, stream beds and other boggy areas. Whereas the amount of moisture might drown other plants, lobelia does well in areas with water saturation. The same is true if it is potted in a hanging bed. Be sure to frequently and copiously water the hanging plant to keep the suspended soil especially damp.
Lobelia can be planted with any other type of flower that enjoys moist, rich soil. Astilbe and Iris are two such options, both liking the same conditions. Fern growing is another good choice. In shady areas, ferns and hostas grow well with lobelia. Additionally, any plant to which hummingbirds are attracted make good companions. Hummingbirds are attracted by color and nectar, not odor. Fuchsias, hollyhocks and petunias are just three of the plants hummingbirds like. They are attracted to lobelia as well, so they will get along well next to one another.
Other good companions include sweet alyssum, impatiens, and wax begonias. All enjoy shady, partially sunny areas, prefer moist, rich humus and make wonderful tree pit flowers. Wishbone flower, love-in-a-mist and flossflower all share attributes with lobelia erinus, namely a good, low lying flower for edging or groundcover purposes.
You have numerous choices when you are seeking good companions for your lobelia plants. Whether hanging or edging, lobelia makes an attractive addition to your garden. Any plant that likes moist, rich soil and only partial sun at most will do well with lobelia. If you have a backyard water feature, adorn it with a combination of ferns and lobelia, for the saturated soil will keep the annual thriving all summer long.