Lobelia Laxiflora

Overview

Lobelia laxiflora loves the sun. Grow this perennial shrub in a sunny spot -- and give it a little water, pruning and mulching -- and it will reward you with bright flowers through a long growing season. A native of Arizona, Mexico, and Central and South America, Lobelia laxiflora has several common names, including desert Lobelia, loose flower Lobelia and Mexican Lobelia.

Identification

Lobelia laxiflora is a member of the Campanulaceae, or bluebell, family. The plant's most notable feature is its two-lobed, bell-shaped flower. Orange-red on the outside, these flowers are bright yellow inside and dangle from thin stalks rising out of dark green, narrow leaves. The flowers, which are about 2 inches long, bloom from spring through fall. The plants can grow up to 3 feet high and spread out 3 feet to 6 feet.

Care

Lobelia laxiflora tolerates neglect. The plant spreads by rhizomes, or underground stems, which help it retain nutrients and protect it from harsh conditions, including temperatures as low as 0 degrees. It is hardy through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) climate zone 8. Plant your Lobelia laxiflora in well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Water the plants regularly until they are established, then less often. Mulch lightly in winter and cut back old growth.

Natural Habitat

In the home garden, Lobelia laxiflora adds color to borders and meadow plantings. In its natural habitat, it grows at elevations of 4,000 to 5,000 feet. It can be found among rocks and under trees, in canyon bottoms, or along streams.

Benefits

Because the Lobelia laxiflora can thrive with occasional watering, it makes a good choice for xeriscape, or low-water-use, gardens. Lobelia laxiflora's blossoms also attract hummingbirds and bumblebees.

Warning

In moist soils, Lobelia laxiflora will spread rapidly and can become invasive. It is also considered poisonous. The plant contains alkaloids and other toxic oils that can cause vomiting, diarrhea or other problems if consumed.

Keywords: Lobelia laxiflora, looseflower Lobelia, desert Lobelia, xeriscape plants, perennial shrubs

About this Author

D.M. Cameron was a journalist and editor for wire services, newspapers and magazines for more than 20 years. In addition to editing and ghost-writing non-fiction books, Cameron now writes for several websites and trade journals. Cameron's degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State.