VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

Plant Pick: Lobelia

Latin name: Lobelia tupa

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

Looking for a stately plant for the back of a mixed flower border?

Lobelia tupa, a native of Chile, is a robust, upright, clump forming perennial.  The stems are red-purple and the leaves lance shaped, downy and grey-green.  The flowers are narrowly tubular, two-lipped in shades of brick red.  These are borne on long racemes, above tall stems from mid-summer to mid-fall.

Cultivate in fertile soil with steady moisture, located in sun to part shade.

At Milner Gardens & Woodland, a maturing clump can be found across the Grand Lawn in the border running along the top of the steep bank.

It will be displaying its delicate flowers from mid-June on.           

Photos courtesy of: Angela Einarson




Herbaceous perennial.


Ovate to lance shaped, stalk-less, downy, simple leaves; 9 inches (22cms.)


Mature plants can have flower spikes up to 4 feet (1.2 m) and a width of 2 feet (60 cm.)

Hardiness Zone:

Zone 4 - 8.


Full sun to part shade.

Flower colour:

Brick red with a purple calyx.

Leaf colour:


Flower time:

Mid-summer to mid-fall.

Preferred soil

and Watering:

Fertile soil with consistent moderate moisture.


All parts of the plant are considered poisonous.

Divide mature clumps in early spring.

A striking plant for the back of a mixed border.

Varying greatly in size and flower colour, Lobelia plants have common features in simple often stalk-less leaves and two-lipped flowers.