Cardinal Lobelia (Lobelia cardinalis)
Cardinal lobelia is a rather rare plant that aquarists use for aqua design. It is also known in the literature as blood red lobelia, purple lobelia, mexican lobelia.
This plant, one of the representatives of the Bellflower family, can be met in the wild on the coasts of rivers and lakes, as well as in bodies of water with stagnant water or a weak stream. Lobelia can reach a height of 1.2 m, so often the tops of plants are located above the surface of the water. Flowers are formed only in the surface part and have a bright red color. The flowering period is from mid-summer to mid-autumn. In aquariums, as a rule, blooming of lobelia does not occur, due to the fact that the tip is clipped to form a bush.
The distribution area of Mexican Lobelia is quite wide: North and South America. In Europe, this species was introduced back in the 17th century to create beautiful compositions in the courtyards of the nobility.
Purple lobelia is an unpretentious aquarium plant, but prefers rather bright lighting, lasting at least 10-11 hours a day (it is desirable to place lamps above the plant). The leaves are oval (width 2.5-3 cm, length 6-7 cm) and sit on small petioles. Their color may vary, depending on the light intensity: light green or bright green hue. The underside of the leaf blade is usually a bright red color (sometimes burgundy with a purple hue).
Maintenance and care
To Lobelia in the aquarium pleased with its appearance, it is enough that the water temperature was in the range of 20-25C. If the water temperature is higher, then the young leaves will be small. Purple lobelia prefers water of moderate hardness, the pH should be neutral. Regular fertilizing the plant, as well as applying CO2, will not be superfluous, since this type of Lobelia is characterized by slow growth. It is also recommended to make soil changes. This will not be difficult, since the roots of the plant are underdeveloped. Fine-grained soil is good for the substrate. Pure water is needed for Lobelia Cardinal, so be prepared to change the water (or add at least 25% of the total aquarium volume) once a week. In addition, a good filter is recommended.
In nature, Mexican Lobelia is propagated by seed. For breeding in the aquarium, it is enough to pin the top to form lateral shoots. After the appearance of several such shoots, you can separate them and root them in the substrate. Rooting takes place quickly, thanks to the subordinate roots. You can also propagate the plant using cut stems, which are enough to stick into the soil in the aquarium.
In aquariums, Cardinal Lobelia, as a rule, is planted in the middle or background. In addition, to form a beautiful compact bush that will not grow in height, but to produce new shoots, it is necessary to periodically attach the tops of the plant.
Lobelia found its application not only as a creation of interesting compositions in aquariums, but also in landscaping and designing terrariums and home gardens. If Lobelia is planted in a terrarium, then it is worth remembering that the plant needs high humidity. In addition, the cultivation of blood red Lobelia in a terrarium is not recommended along with animals that can use this type of Lobelia as food, due to the content of toxic substances in the plant's juice (alkaloids).