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Lobelia Winter Care – Tips For Overwintering Lobelia Plants

Lobelia Winter Care – Tips For Overwintering Lobelia Plants


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

There are many types of Lobelia.Some are annuals and some are perennials and some are annuals only in northernclimates. Annuals will usually self-seed and come back the next year, whileperennials will re-sprout from the dormant plant in spring. Lobelia winterhardiness varies by species, but even the hardy Lobelias need special care tosurvive cold temperatures. Keep reading for important tips on Lobelia wintercare.

Lobelia Winter Hardiness

Lobelia in winter will die back no matter which variety youhave. However, the annual Lobelia may not come back at all even if it formedseed. This is due to incorrect germination requirements. But it is easy toplant from seed in controlled situations. Perennial plants will die back but,if given proper care, should flourish anew when temperatures warm up.

Lobelia erinus isthe annual variety of the plant and comes in many species. It is not hardy incold temperatures and will not survive being frozen. The Lobelia x speciosa varieties are perennials. These are hardy to 5to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 to -10 C.).

Either variety needs well-draining soil in full sun for bestblooming. The annual forms tend to get weedy when temperatures get hot insummer but can be rejuvenated by cutting the plants back by half. Perennialforms will bloom almost into the middle of fall.

How to Overwinter Lobelia Annuals

In warmer zones, annual Lobelia can remain outdoors and willcontinue to bloom if cut back. Eventually, the plant will die out but shouldreseed. Northern gardeners will have to plant these Lobelias in containers andbring them indoors before any danger of frost.

Even overwintering Lobelia plants indoors is no guaranteethey will re-bloom in spring since these are short lived plants. Place them inindirect but bright light, away from drafts. Water them infrequently but checkevery so often, especially if they are near a heat source which will dry soilquickly.

Lobelia Winter Care for Perennials

Overwintering Lobelia plants that are classed as perennialsis a bit easier and more certain. Most are hardy to United States Department ofAgriculture zones 2 to 10. That is a pretty broad temperature range and almostany gardener can have success with these forms as outdoor plants in winter.

Perennial Lobelia in winter will die back. Leaves drop andstems may get soft. Cut them back after flowering to a couple of inches (5 cm.)above the ground. Spread organic mulch around the root zone but keep it awayfrom the main stems. Covering these can promote rot.

In most zones, enough precipitation will occur so thatwatering is not necessary. Feed plants in late winter to early spring and theywill bounce back quickly.

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Lobelia Plant Winter Preparation

Most lobelia plants are annuals. They die back completely after the first frost and must be replanted from seed or as transplants in the springtime each year. But several types of lobelia plants grow as perennials, meaning they survive the winter as dormant plants and regrow year after year. For perennial lobelia, careful preparation of the planting site for winter will ensure a successful regrowth each year for the life of the plant.


Starting Trailing Lobelia

L. erinus is widely available as a transplant in the beginning of the season, but you can also grow your own from seed as a budget-stretcher or a matter of preference. As you'd expect from an African flower, it doesn't like the cold, so start your seeds at least 8 to 10 weeks before your expected last frost date.

The seeds require light to sprout, so don't bury them. Instead, scatter them across the surface of lightly moistened potting mix and then press the seeds gently to the surface. Germination can take up to three weeks. Once you see leaves developing on the infant plants, they can be separated into individual cells or small plant pots.


Lobelia Winter Hardiness: Learn How To Overwinter Lobelia Plants - garden

Hot® Waterblue Lobelia flowers

Hot® Waterblue Lobelia flowers

This variety is covered with long lasting lavender-blue flowers with white centers excellent performance in summer heat looks wonderful in mass plantings along borders or in containers

Hot® Waterblue Lobelia is covered in stunning lavender flowers with blue overtones and white centers at the ends of the stems from mid spring to early fall. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its pointy leaves remain green in color throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Hot® Waterblue Lobelia is an herbaceous annual with a mounded form. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Hot® Waterblue Lobelia is recommended for the following landscape applications

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Hot® Waterblue Lobelia will grow to be about 12 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 8 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 6 inches apart. Although it's not a true annual, this fast-growing plant can be expected to behave as an annual in our climate if left outdoors over the winter, usually needing replacement the following year. As such, gardeners should take into consideration that it will perform differently than it would in its native habitat.

This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. It is quite adaptable, prefering to grow in average to wet conditions, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This particular variety is an interspecific hybrid, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets. It can be propagated by cuttings however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.

Hot® Waterblue Lobelia is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. It is often used as a 'filler' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination, providing a mass of flowers against which the thriller plants stand out. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.


Like many Australian natives, scaevola is a tough specimen, and doesn't suffer from many pest or disease problems. Plants stressed by lengthy drought may attract thrips. Avoid spraying scaevola for insects, as the plants are an important source of nectar for butterflies.

Annual lobelia plants (Lobelia erinus) look indistinguishable from scaevola plants from a distance. Lobelia flowers are small, abundant, and have a similar fan shape (with three downward-facing petaloids rather than the five that scaevola have. Annual lobelia plants also come in blue, white, and pink varieties. The big difference between the two is that lobelia plants like cool weather, and will die off as the summer heats up. Replace your faded lobelia plants with scaevola specimens, and your garden won't miss a beat.


Watch the video: How to Overwinter Your Annuals for Next Year