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Audubon® Cardinal Flower
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Cardinal Flower will turn a dim, dank corner of your yard into your favorite summertime space. That’s when spikes of dazzling true-red flowers rise from the leafy rosettes, catching the eye of every hummingbird in the neighborhood. If you plant it, they will come! Grateful hummers will be sipping, swooping, careening, and carousing in your garden from dawn until dusk. Plant a whole swath of Cardinal Flower and encourage plants to reseed so there’s enough for everybody. The birds will get very territorial when they discover you have one of their favorite treats!
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-9
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Cardinal Flower is a cherished native wildflower found in all regions of the U.S. except for the Pacific Northwest. You might see it if you hike near shady streams in summer. Please don’t pick it if you see it in the wild! Overcollecting has reduced its numbers. Cardinal Flower has a long history as a medicinal herb among some Native American tribes. In the past, it was used as a cure for cramps and typhoid, and it was even used as a love potion! We strongly discourage eating any part of it, though—Cardinal Flower is toxic when ingested (but you’d have to eat an awful lot of it to get sick).
Besides attracting every hummingbird in the neighborhood, Cardinal Flower is also a magnet for butterflies. Large, showy swallowtails are especially fond of the luminous blossoms. At the same time, the toxic chemicals in the leaves keep deer and rabbits from munching on the foliage. Cardinal Flower attracts the kind of wildlife you want to see in your garden, but not the kind you don’t.
How to Grow
Steady moisture is key with Cardinal Flower. It does not take kindly to drying out. Mulch well, preferably with compost or leaf mold, to keep the roots cool and moist. Protection from the hot afternoon sun is also important, especially in warm climates. In cool northern regions, full sun may be an option. Cardinal Flower is not a long-lived Spirit, but plants reseed when happy, so provide the right conditions, and the planting will endure indefinitely. Cut plants back any time after they have cast their seed and before new growth resumes in the spring.
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