Cardinal Flower heralds fall

Stepping into Nature - Minden Riverwalk

Cardinal Flower heralds fall

Minden, Ontario K0M 2A1, Canada

Created By: Haliburton County Master Gardeners


If you are lucky enough to be sitting on this bench in late July through September, you will see brilliant red flowers growing along the shoreline. These are the native Cardinal Flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) that grow best in consistently moist soil, in full sun or part shade, and are most frequently seen along riverbanks, streams and swamps. They grow 2’ to 4’ tall with a spire of crimson, tubular flowers that open gradually from the bottom up over a period of weeks. Look closely and you might see a Ruby-throated hummingbird feasting on the nectar in the flowers. The hummingbird has a long narrow bill and tongue that matches the tubular shape of this flower. The opening of the flower is too narrow for most other insects to enter so the hummingbird has less competition for the nectar. Learn more about this relationship here:

Cultivars of the Cardinal Flower like Fan Scarlet can look beautiful in the garden and attract hummingbirds, but it only has 20% of the nectar production of the native species (see

Given the long migration hummingbirds have to undertake in the fall we want to provide as much natural nectar to them from our gardens as possible. If you are planting Cardinal Flowers in your garden look for the native species Lobelia cardinalis. In the wild, Cardinal Flowers spread by seed and also by growing rosettes at the base of the plant that can be divided and replanted in the spring. Also, bending the Cardinal Flower stem and securing it under the mud with stones or sticks can result in a new plant.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird is also attracted to Scarlet Bee Balm (Monarda didyma), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata), and native Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) so plant some of those as well to keep the hummingbirds lingering in your garden.

See the Native Plants directory on the Haliburton County Master Gardener website for more detailed information on Cardinal Flower and other native flowering perennials for your garden

This point of interest is part of the tour: Stepping into Nature - Minden Riverwalk


Leave a Comment



Download the App

Download the PocketSights Tour Guide mobile app to take this self-guided tour on your GPS-enabled mobile device.

iOS Tour Guide Android Tour Guide



Updates and Corrections

Please send change requests to