Annual lobelia does not overwinter in most climates. In warmer climates, annual lobelia may continue blooming for a long period if cut back and well maintained. The plant is typically a short-lived annual. Perennial varieties of lobelia including Cardinal Flower are hardy in a wide range of growing zones from 2-10 and will come back each year without too much fuss.
Protecting Lobelia in Winter
There is little need to protect annual lobelia in winter because the plant typically dies back at the first frost. Plants are best removed before the winter or in very early spring. Perennial lobelia does not need much protection or special considerations during winter snow or ice. Perennial lobelia will benefit from a bit of insulating mulch around the root zone in the fall, but no further precautions are needed.
Cutting Back Lobelia For Winter
Annual lobelia can be cut back to the ground or removed from containers or the planting site after the first frost. Perennial lobelia will die back at the first frost, dropping leaves and flowers and developing soggy stems. Perennial lobelia can be cut back to the ground at this time and pruned prior to winter. Stems and foliage can also be left in the garden over winter for wildlife and insect habitat if you prefer a more natural approach. Plan to clean and prep your perennial bed when overnight temperatures reach the mid 40s-50s in spring.
Lobelia Winter Care in Pots
Planters or containers of annual lobelia should be emptied and cleaned at the end of the season to avoid freezing and cracking of containers. If desired, annual lobelia can be stored in a basement or greenhouse over winter. Perennial lobelia does not prefer to grow in containers but if attempting to overwinter, store pots in a semi-protected location near the house or in a partially covered garage.
Watering Lobelia in Winter
You will not need to water annual lobelia if planted in the ground since the plants will not come back the following season. Perennial lobelia does not typically need to be watered in the ground over winter either. The plants remain dormant over the winter and occasional rain or snowfall is sufficient for moisture needs. Pots will require infrequent watering while plants are dormant. Pots that are fully sheltered from the outdoors or partially covered will need to be watered more frequently.
Growing Lobelia Indoors
Lobelia does not typically do well as an indoor plant since it has very high sunlight needs. If brought indoors, give the plant as much sun as possible. Annual lobelia is a short-lived flowering plant and will not go dormant. Perennial lobelias should not be grown indoors.
Steps To Care For Lobelia in Winter
Lobelia requires little care during the winter. Annual flowering lobelia will die back at the first frost and perennial lobelia will die back and go dormant. Perennial lobelia is cold hardy over a large range of growing zones.
Step 1 - Perennial lobelia will die back after first frost
Step 2 - Cut back dead foliage and flowers to the ground
Step 3 - Apply a thin layer of mulch
Step 4 - Allow plants to go dormant over winter, watering only in the case of extreme drought
Step 5 - Enjoy watching new growth emerge in spring
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Author Katie Endicott - Published 9-15-2022