Lobelia is an ornamental flowering plant belonging to the genus of the same name of the Campanula family. These flowers are unusually decorative: lobelia is called a blooming cloud. There are both its bush varieties and ampelous lobelia. They will be discussed in the article.
General information, view description
The genus Lobelia includes not only herbaceous plants, but also shrubs. The name was given in honor of the 16th-17th century scientist Matthias de L'Aubel, botanist and court physician to James I, King of England.
Lobelia, which is grown by flower growers in our area, as a rule, represents various forms and varieties of one of the species - lobelia erinus, or blackberry (aka garden lobelia). This is a small, low plant, characterized by lush flowering. Its small flowers are most often blue-blue or purple, but crimson and white varieties are also found. Flowering is so lush that it can completely hide the greenery. With proper care, it lasts quite a long time - from May to September. The flowers are small, not more than 1-2 cm in diameter. They are two-lipped, zygomorphic. In the upper lip there are two smaller fused petals, inbottom - three larger ones.
The shoots of the plant are thin, tender, strongly branched, densely overgrown with leaves. The leaves are oblong, small, pale green. Depending on the form, the plant may look like a lush bush or a cascade of lush flowering lashes.
There are several forms of the plant. The first four of them are bush, the last one is ampelous:
- Lobelia Erecta, or erect, is a columnar shape that grows up to 25 cm.
- Lobelia Diffusa, or sprawling, fully lives up to its name, has long branched stems up to 30 cm in length.
- Lobelia Compacta, as the name implies, has a compact appearance. Stems are straight, up to 20 cm in height.
- Lobelia Pumila is a dwarf species, the smallest of the forms. Grows no higher than 12 cm.
- Lobelia Pendula is a climbing plant with freely hanging stems up to 35 cm long. Used for growing in hanging pots and planters.
Ampel lobelia can also be labeled on the packaging as cascading. As a rule, if there is an inscription "erinus" on a bag of seeds, we are talking about bush varieties.
The most popular varieties of ampelous lobelia are briefly described below with a photo:
Red Cascade (Red Cascade) - a variety with raspberry flowers. Shoots are long, falling, up to 35 cm in length
Fountain Blue (Blue Fountain) - pale blue flowers, in the middle - a white eye. Shoots are multiple, up to 35 cm long
Sapphire (Sapphire) - bright blue flowers with white spots on the lower petals
When purchasing seeds for planting ampelous lobelia, it should be borne in mind that its varieties with yellow, red, orange flowers do not exist. Therefore, if the seller assures you otherwise, you should not trust him.
Garden Lobelia is an annual. It is photophilous, but at the same time shade-tolerant, quite resistant to cold. Loves watering, but does not tolerate waterlogging and can rot. It is very important to find a balance here, because with insufficient watering, the plant simply stops blooming. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the soil is always slightly moist. This is especially important in the summer heat.
Soils for planting ampelous lobelia (a photo of the plant can be seen below) or any other species should be well-drained, medium moisture, sandy or loamy. It is better to choose an open place for growing in the garden, as the plant loves bright diffused light. However, it does not tolerate direct sunlight, so it is desirable that the plants be in the shade during the hottest time of the day.
Growing from seeds
Requirements for growing conditions, planting, caring for ampelous lobelia practically do not differ from those for other plant forms. The fruit ripens in September-October. It is a two piece box. It containsmany very small seeds, no more than 0.6 mm in diameter. They are smooth and shiny, from light to dark brown (in varieties with white flowers - cream).
Lobelia seeds, like petunias, because they are very small, cannot be planted deep into the soil, otherwise they will not sprout. They are mixed with sand and, as it were, the earth is “s alted” with this mixture in order to evenly distribute it over the surface. Flower growers also advise another way: moisten a toothpick in water, then dip it into seeds and shallowly into the soil. You can sow the seeds immediately in the same containers in which the lobelia will continue to grow: pots, boxes.
The soil under the seeds should be moist, but loose, well mashed. It is advisable to mix it with sand and coconut fiber. From above, the seeds are sprayed from a spray bottle, after which they are covered with plastic wrap, plastic, polycarbonate or glass - any transparent material. Keep them where there will be enough bright but diffused light.
Before the seeds germinate, the cover should be wiped daily from condensation to prevent rot and seedling damage. You should also ventilate the seeds for 10-20 minutes in the morning and evening. The optimum temperature in the room is 18-20 degrees. Seeds germinate on average on the 10th day after sowing. The film is removed after a few more days, but it is better to do this by gradually accustoming the tender sprouts to room temperature.
After the seeds germinate and the film is removed, it is necessary to carefully monitor that the earth in the container does not dry out. The root system of lobelia is poorly developed, and withwhen the soil dries out, the sprouts die instantly.
During the day, seedlings can be taken out to the balcony or veranda, at night - unless the temperature drops below +15 degrees. The most important thing for tender seedlings is a sufficient amount of diffused light, timely watering and fresh air. In such conditions, it will quickly get stronger. From the bright rays of the daytime sun, the sprouts should be shaded.
Feeding seedlings usually does not require. In extreme cases, you can feed monthly plants with universal fertilizer, diluting it 2-3 times stronger than for adults.
Planting seedlings of ampelous lobelia
Planting and care (photos of plants in separate containers can be seen below) in the future for growing flowers will be successful if you are careful, because lobelia seedlings are very tender. Transplantation is carried out in two stages: first, several plants are transferred from a common container to separate ones, and then they are already planted in the ground. Sprouts dive after the appearance of 2-3 leaves. By this time, young lobelia growing nearby are often intertwined with roots. In no case should they be separated, so as not to damage the root system. To transfer several plants, you can use a regular teaspoon. When the sprouts reach 6-7 cm in height, the tops should be pinched, this stimulates the growth of lateral branches. Lobelia blooms even in seedlings, before planting in a permanent place.
The second time the plants are transplanted not earlier than the end of May - the beginning of June, when the threat of frost has passed.For this, hanging containers are most often used, because all the charm of the ampelous form is in its cascading lush stems strewn with flowers. In prepared pits, the distance between which should be 10-15 cm, 3-4 small plants are transferred. The soil, as for seedlings, should be loose and not too fertile. If nitrogen fertilizers are abused, lobelia will increase its green mass, but will not bloom.
Caring for an adult plant
In addition to watering, fresh air and sunlight, you need to take care of the stems. So, after the first flowering, they must be cut at a height of about 5 cm from the soil surface. After this, the lobelia will grow, branch more densely and bloom even more abundantly. A couple of times over the summer, you will need to feed the flowers with complex mineral fertilizer.
After flowering of lobelia and ripening of seeds, you can cut the stems. First, you should collect the seeds by shaking them out of the cut plant onto a newspaper and sifting through a sieve.
Leaving the stems unharvested for the winter is not recommended, because otherwise the plant can reproduce by self-sowing and disrupt your plans. In addition, flowering will begin much later than when planting pre-grown seedlings.
The stems of ampelous lobelia or any other contain poisonous milky juice. In large quantities, it can be harmful to he alth, so the plant should be kept away from small children.
However, many types of lobelia have medicinal properties. Due to the alkaloids they contain, they are used infolk medicine in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, asthma, diseases of the central nervous system. However, you should not use them on your own, without consulting your doctor. It could be dangerous.
Besides the one-year-old, two-year-old lobelia can sometimes be seen in the gardens. Their flowers, unlike lobelia erinus or ampelous lobelia, the care of which was described in our article, can also have a bright red color. These species are rather tall erect plants, having only a distant resemblance to Lobelia erinus in the structure of the flower. You can see what such a lobelia looks like in the photo.
Ampelous (planting and caring for it have been described in detail) and bush varieties never reach the same height as biennials - up to 70-80 cm or more.
One of the types of perennial lobelia is called Siphilitica, since in the old days it was believed that syphilis could be cured with this plant. Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a delusion.
As you can see from the material provided, care is not particularly difficult for such a flower as ampelous lobelia. The photos presented in the article clearly demonstrate the beauty of these unusual plants, which will surely reward the owners for good conditions with bright, abundant flowering.