Learn How To Grow Trailing Lobelia (Lobelia erinus). This beautiful Romantic flower has graced English gardens for centuries! Easy to Sow, easy to Grow..a fuss free annual flower, perfect for patios, hanging baskets and cottage gardens.
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Ah Trailing Lobelia! I get a little nostalgic when talking about this petite frothy flower. As a child it was a constant feature in my Summer memories, it was the flower I saw most often, and the one I admired the most! My parents and my 7 Aunts grew it religiously every single year. I remember the impressive cascades of pretty pink and blue flowers bursting from flower pots and hanging baskets.
I also remember the small Lobelia posey’s in small glass tumblers… My Aunt’s loved to place them on tables for summer garden parties. As a child I used to enjoy picking them and pressing them between the pages of old heavy books…it is the flower of my childhood, and by intention…the the very first flower I ever sowed from seed.
The History Of Lobelia
Lobelia was named after the Flemish Botanist Matthias De L’ Obel (1538-1616). He discovered the medicinal qualities of a low-growing plant in Flanders, which was widely considered a tobacco substitute. Taking inspiration from his own name he called the plant ‘Lobelia’.
The Royal Flower
Throughout the 1800’s it became a popular plant amongst European Royal Families, becoming a preferred landscaping and potted plant in regal gardens. It soon spread to us poorer folk! and became a garden staple, especially so in English gardens.
Trailing Lobelia Characteristics
Lobelia is a member of the bell-flower family (Campanulaceae) comprising of almost 400 species worldwide. Trailing Lobelia is a compact growing plant that is usually grown as an annual. It is most popular as a potted Flower, ideal for balconies, small gardens, container gardens, cottage gardens and hanging baskets.
It is available as both an upright plant and a hanging plant (*Seeds are sown the same way regardless of growing habit). The flowers have a unique feature, they are completely symmetrical and divided in two halves. The plant has a frothy, romantic appearance with petite floaty flowers, most commonly found in shades of Blue, Pink and White.
Lobelia Flower Symbolism
It’s all about the Love folks! For the most Part Lobelia is Symbolic of Love and the connection and bond between two people, whether that be between partners or parent and child, they represent the innocence and pureness of love.
The Perfect Gift
A gift of Lobelia to a loved one or friend can represent different feelings and wishes for the intended, dependant on the colour of flower chosen, here is what each Lobelia flower symbolises.
Blue Trailing Lobelia
Blue Trailing Lobelia flowers represent someone who is kind, gentle, and sensitive. It can represent peace of mind and a need for quiet.
Pink Trailing Lobelia
Pink Trailing Lobelia flowers are symbolic of friendship and love and the hope of prosperity and happiness.
White Trailing Lobelia
White Trailing Lobelia flowers represent innocence and purity, an ideal gift for a new mother
How to Grow Trailing Lobelia
How to Sow Trailing Lobelia Seeds
- Sow Trailing Lobelia seeds in February or March. Sprinkle on the surface of damp soil, Lobelia seeds need light to germinate, so don’t cover with soil.
- Place on a Sunny Windowsill, Cover with a propagator lid or cling wrap, remove when seedlings emerge.
- When the seedlings are large enough to handle, pot small clumps into modules or larger pots.
- Plant out once all risk of frost has passed, be sure to harden off young plants first.
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
Trailing Lobelia Sun and Water Requirements
Trailing Lobelia will Thrive in a full sun to part-shade spot. Water Regularly during the warmer months and try not to let the soil dry out, it may force the plant to die back prematurely. * Top Tip- Add some Water saving/Retention Gel to your baskets and pots, works wonders!
Trailing Lobelia Fertiliser
Not essential, but for an extra boost add some high potash feed during the Summer months for prolonged flowering
Caring For Trailing Lobelia
Dead heading isn’t necessary with Trailing Lobelia. However, if your Lobelia is looking a little raggedy and tired, a small haircut may revive it! Simply cut back the tired stems to encourage a new flush of flowers