Eco Plant Whisperer August 2022

Published: August 8, 2022





Posted on 08.08.2022 |
Added in Eco Plant Whisperer

The eye catching blood red tubular flowers of Lobelia tupa makes this perennial a strong talking point! Commonly known as Devil's Tobacco, Lobelia tupa belongs to the family (Campanulaceae) and is native to Chile. 

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lobelia tupa 2 small 77

The morphology of the flowers is something to behold. The flower heads are two lipped, solitary, in racemes or panicles. Plants such as this use their mechanisms to draw in the insects and pollinators, so this is a real winner for wildlife gardens! As an Eco Plant Whisperer I have to train myself to hold back en route from all other tasks, grasp the moment and just observe the insects in action, particularly Hoverflies. 

The Plant Whisperer  really has to get to grips with the surrounding environment and how this plays a part in the cultivation of plants, the soil, what's going on within, observing  this at close quarters, what affect is the soil having on the plant? Good or bad, how we rectify the situation, how we improve it may be, how does the plant in question perform in other parts of the country, just a small part within the web of knowledge. 

I have learned that the environment at the Lakeside can bring the best out of perennials in particular! There's a mild warmth that breezes off the lake at this time of year, it creates a similar climatic condition to that of a micro climate in a walled garden. The knowledge of  environmental factors are all part of the Plant Whisperer's thinking tools! 

The bright red almost ornate flowers of Lobelia tupa  really making the most of this climate. The flowers adorn this magnificent perennial from June through to late summer. Aside from the tubular flower heads, this is equally matched with the felty elliptical shaped leaves. 

Lobelia tupa will tolerate dry soils, although it's preference is moist conditions, this will extend the flowering period. The wide  range of soils  for cultivation covers sandy, loam, clay, and even chalky soils, but with  a preference of a sheltered but sunny spot. 

This Lobelia is a great architectural plant that can be used as a planting scheme for jungle style gardens! Also exotic, coastal and cottage style planting. 

At the Lakeside Hotel it's a much valued connoisseur perennial and seems very much at home in close proximity to Lake Windermere.  Let's put this into the category of Hardy Perennial in milder winters, it's hardiness rating could be tested in harsher winters! I'm going to be cautious, prune back to the  base in late autumn/early winter and cover the stems with home made Lakeside Compost! Let's trial it from scratch next season, after all, this forms part of the process of being an Eco Plant Whisperer, trialling and getting the very best from plants.