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Lobelia inflata

Grown by: Whistle Down Farm in Hudson, NY

  • $5.00

A small, delicate wildflower in the bellflower family, growing anywhere from 5-39 inches in height. Native throughout what is now the Eastern United States, Southeastern Canada, and Westward into the Great Plains region.

These tiny herbaceous plants grow as annuals or biennials, with long, toothed oval leaves, hairy stems and stalks ending in clusters of flowers ranging from violet to light blue, or white with faint blue spots. Native habitat ranges from fields to open woodlands - this plant prefers part to full sun and rich, moist soil. Blooms from midsummer, June-July, through autumn, Sep-Oct. After flowering, stalks develop tiny, balloon-like seed pods - inspiration for their species name "inflata," meaning inflated, "to swell or puff up" in Latin.

Although small, Lobelia is powerful. Used for centuries by many Indigenous nations as medicine, it is a low-dose herb with strong purgative properties, outlined in one of its common names, "pukeweed." Historically used as an emetic, antispasmodic, and ceremonial herb. Contains the chemical "Lobeline," thought to have similar effects to that of nicotine - you may see it as a low-dose ingredient in herbalist's smoking cessation blends, to curb nicotine cravings. Not recommended for casual use, can be toxic.

Days to maturity: From spring planting, 60-80 days to flower. From overwintering, flowers in second year.

Seeds per pack: 400

Germination rate: 50% on 6/28/2023

Planting / harvesting notes

Sow in spring or autumn to overwinter. Light-dependent germinator. Sow seed on surface of soil, tamp, and keep evenly moist until germination. Can take between 1-3 weeks to germinate in warm soils. As a wild plant, this herb can be challenging to cultivate. Prefers growing in part to full sun and rich, moist soil. Blooms from midsummer, June-July, through autumn, September-October.

Seed keeping notes

Seeds are ready when the seed pods are inflated and a bit dried out.

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