En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Wednesday - August 21, 2013

From: Wakefield, RI
Region: Northeast
Topic: Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Propagation of cardinal flower with variegated leaves from Wakefield RI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I purchased cardinal flower seeds from the Brandywine museum & have had great success for over a decade. Recently I spotted one cardinal flower with variegated leaves. Is this a plant worth propagating from cuttings or seeds? No one knows anything about variegated cardinal flowers.

ANSWER:

This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) grows natively in Washington County, RI. Since you have already grown it for a long time there, that at least partially rules out a problem with incompatible soils causing the variegation. We looked aat all the pictures in our Image Gallery of this plant and some more online and saw no variegation, so what you have may well be unique. Here are propagation instructions from our webpage on Cardinal flower:

"Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds
Seed Collection: As seeds approach maturity, the capsule opens slightly at its top. Check capsules at both upper and lower portions of the stalk. Store dried, cleaned seed in a sealed, refrigerated container up to three years.
Seed Treatment: This species requires or benefits from a three month period of cold-moist stratification in the refrigerator.
Commercially Avail: yes"

Generally speaking, it is difficult to propagate a hybrid via seed; whatever the variation, it rarely breeds true. The leaves of this plant are long narrow blades, so the variegation might not be worthwhile to other gardeners. Since it is a perennial, you could try taking root cuttings and see if you can repeat the characteristic by vegetative propagation.

Your original question was whether this characteristic was worth propagating. That would be entirely up to you - if you enjoy experimenting with propagation and perhaps creating different leaf markings, that would be worth it. Whether there would be any commercial value, we couldn't possibly say.

 

From the Image Gallery


Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

More Propagation Questions

Germination and propagation of Carolina larkspur
September 02, 2007 - I have some Delphinium carolinianum seeds and I am looking to germinate and propagate them. I threw some out on my caliche rubble Four years ago,and got one to germinate four years later. What time o...
view the full question and answer

Assuring berries on Viburnum dentatum
October 27, 2008 - I just purchased 2 blue muffin viburnum bushes-I live in Kansas-How many years will it be before they get berries? They are full size(3-4 ft) Do I need to trim them down for winter or just mulch the...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Arisaema dracontium
May 25, 2008 - We are fortunate enough to own an 8-acre drainage next to Bull Creek preserve, and it has several stands of Green Dragon (Arisaema Dracontium) growing in it. How can we propagate this plant and share...
view the full question and answer

Planting wildflower seeds in a drought in Grimes Co. TX
November 03, 2010 - I have a dilemma, shared by others I'm sure. My place, which is in Oakland prairie, has seen no real rainfall since sometime in August, and the soil (sand, loam, and blackland clays)is extremely dry....
view the full question and answer

Rooting house plants
April 22, 2010 - Hello Mr SP: I've had Philodendron house plants (many) for years now, because they're easy to grow & that's about my style. Years ago I tried to grow a new plant from a cutting off of one, but it...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center