Cardinal Flower is named for its beautiful scarlet red flowers which are an important nectar source for hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies. Lobelias produce a secondary compound known as "lobeline," which deters herbivores. The flowering spikes open from the bottom to the top and bloom for several weeks. They grow best in moist, rich soils in full sun to partial shade. Cardinal flower is a showy plant great for the garden or wetland planting. Parent plants will not persist for more than a few years, but it is a prolific self-seeder and fast grower. Allowing the seeds to make good seed to soil contact will give the opportunity for the plant colony to continually replenish itself with new offspring. Its blossoms also make excellent cut flowers.