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November 2008
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Lobelia : Some beautiful flowers (best are intense blue)

Lobelia is a genus of flowering plant comprising 360–400 species, with a subcosmopolitan distribution primarily in tropical to warm temperate regions of the world, a few species extending into cooler temperate regions. English names include Lobelia, Asthma Weed, Indian Tobacco, Pukeweed, and Vomitwort.
Lobelia is an ideal plant to be grown in containers, after all, the extremely beautiful blue or white petals cascading over pots and out of windowboxes give a great look. Lobelias are profuse summertime bloomers. Try these compact plants as border edging, along creekbeds, in containers, or in windowsill planters. They look great in hanging baskets, too. As a matter of fact, these cool weather flowers will bloom all the way to frost. They are a popular, easy to grow annual (grows only for one year) flower native to a wide range of regions in North and South America. There are many varieties, some of which are perennials, but the most used ones in gardening are annuals. It grows 4-8 inches high and sprawls over the ground or over the sides of containers.
In terms of sun, Lobelia plants like full sun to partial shade and the plants prefer cool weather. In terms of soil conditions, Lobelias like rich, wet soil. Lobelia plants will thrive in moist to wet soil along creekbeds and streams, or in natural wetlands. Avoid frost conditions.
Established plants need very little attention. You need to keep the soil moist to wet, and if there are dry spells, water frequently. For peak performance, add a general purpose fertilizer once a month. Around mid-summer, your plants will begin to produce flowers, and will continue to do so up to the first frost. You do not need remove dead flower blooms, except for appearance. When summer’s heat or humidity causes lobelia to stop blooming, just shear the plants back by half. As long as you keep the soil moist, they’ll bloom again when cooler weather hits.

How to grow from seed: 2 ways. First method is very simple and non-time consuming, all you need to do is to scatter the seed in the area that you wish for them to grow; or you could raise them in seedling trays. Raising them in seedbeds is the best way to get uniformity of plant and also you are more able to control exactly the position that they will grow in, but takes more effort.

Medical Uses: Native Americans used lobelia to treat respiratory and muscle disorders, and as a purgative. Today it is used to treat asthma and food poisoning, and is often used as part of smoking cessation programs. It is a physical relaxant, and can serve as a nerve depressant, easing tension and panic. The species used most commonly in modern herbalism is Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco).
Because of its similarity to nicotine, the internal use of lobelia may be dangerous to susceptible populations, including children, pregnant women, and individuals with cardiac disease. Excessive use will cause nausea and vomiting. It is not recommended for use by pregnant women and is best administered by a practitioner qualified in its use.

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