Great Blue Lobelia: Wildflower Wednesday

– Posted in: Native/Invasive, What's up/blooming

Sometimes plants surprise you.

Great Blue Lobelia

Not what I’d call a damp location.

I recently came across this plant growing in front of the stone retaining wall of the parking pad. Ordinarily I would have considered any plant growing at the base of this wall a weed, but this plant had presence. I certainly hadn’t planted it, and none were growing in the soil inside the wall, but still…the flowers were such an attractive shade of blue. I felt like I had seen this plant before, somewhere.

I walked back towards the house. Halfway there, it hit me: lobelia! Sure enough, I consulted a few reference books and checked for images online, and confirmed that I had great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) growing at the base of the stone wall.

lobelia siphilitica

Great blue lobelia has a distinctive flower shape consisting of two segments in the upper lip and three segments in the lower lip.

What threw me is the plant’s location. Great blue lobelia is consistently described as needing moist to wet soil. There are certainly places on our property that I would describe as moist to wet, but this spot isn’t one of them. I really can’t figure out why it’s thriving here.

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Nick Jones September 5, 2012, 10:47 pm

The garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles. Simply wonderful surprise! Thanks for sharing

Gardening Blogger August 31, 2012, 6:45 am

You’re very fortunate to have this lovely plant growing so randomly in your wall. I love it and it pops up here and there in my garden and being from the UK it seems to thrive in the damp conditions we have here. I suppose that’s one advantage of our poof climate.

Greggo August 24, 2012, 9:48 pm

Unique plant.

Rose August 24, 2012, 8:11 am

What a lovely surprise! I have several plants, especially this year, that have popped up in the strangest places, including a phlox in my shade garden–I know I didn’t plant that one. I’d love to have these beautiful blue flowers show up in my garden!

commonweeder August 23, 2012, 9:18 am

There are so many mysteries in the garden which is nice because even though we might not be able to take full credit for success, we don’t have to take full credit for failures either. This time there was just a mysterious success with no work on your part. Great luck!

DJ /Meander Mountain August 22, 2012, 10:46 pm

What a happy surprise, Kathy. I bet you discover things on a continuing basis since your move. I wouldn’t have expected that lobelia there either, but I think they tolerate more dry conditions than most plant reference books indicate. I saw some red lobelia today thriving in pretty dry conditions.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford August 22, 2012, 11:19 am

I have some growing in moist areas and dry areas as well. It just reseeds where it does, and I am happy to find these gorgeous blue flowers.

Gail August 22, 2012, 8:59 am

A gift from nature! Great Blue Lobelia is one of my favorite flowering wildflowers~It sure is popular with the Bumbles! I’ve never had it seed anywhere else in my garden, so I’ve added another drift in a new bed. It has a central taproot so perhaps it’s found the water table in your woodland; I’ll have to keep mine watered well for the next year. Happy WW kathy. xogail!