Lobelia tupa at Kew Gardens

Lobelia tupa: The Enigmatic Devil’s Tobacco

Lobelia tupa, commonly known as Devil’s Tobacco, belongs to the Campanulaceae family of plants. This woody-based perennial hails from Chile, where it thrives in its native habitat. It is renowned for its unique appearance and captivating qualities.

Characteristics and Description

Lobelia tupa is an upright plant with striking gray-green leaves. The narrow, hairy foliage bears a resemblance to tobacco, hence its intriguing nickname, Devil’s Tobacco. The stem of the plant boasts a dark purplish hue, adding a touch of drama to its overall presentation. The flowers of Lobelia tupa are a vivid red, characterized by their tubular, two-lipped structure. They grow in terminal racemes, creating a stunning display during the summer and autumn seasons. With an impressive height potential of 2.5 meters (8 feet), this perennial makes a bold statement in the garden.

How to Grow Lobelia tupa:

To cultivate Lobelia tupa successfully, follow these guidelines:

Planting: Lobelia tupa can be planted in either spring or fall. Choose a location that receives full sun or partial shade, depending on the climate. The soil should be well-drained and slightly acidic. Optimal growth is achieved in fertile, well-drained soil, and the plant thrives in sunlit areas. It has a preference for dry soil conditions.

Watering: Regular watering is essential, particularly during the first year after planting. This helps the plant establish a strong root system. Once established, Lobelia tupa exhibits increased drought tolerance and requires less frequent watering.

Fertilizer: Lobelia tupa does not demand frequent fertilization. A light application of fertilizer in the spring can aid in promoting growth and flowering. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for the appropriate dosage.

Pruning: Lobelia tupa generally does not necessitate regular pruning. However, removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches is recommended. Additionally, selective pruning can be performed to shape the plant or stimulate further flowering.

Pests and Diseases: Lobelia tupa is generally resilient against pests and diseases. However, it may be susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and powdery mildew. Promptly address any signs of pest infestation or disease to maintain the plant’s health. Slugs may also pose a threat to Lobelia tupa. It is important to note that this plant could be toxic to humans, pets, and livestock, so caution is advised.

Propagation: Lobelia tupa can be propagated from seeds. Sow the seeds in late winter or early spring for optimal results. Additionally, basal cuttings can be taken for propagation purposes. After the flowering period, cut back the plant to encourage new growth and propagation.

Attracts Pollinators:

Lobelia tupa serves as a magnet for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Its vibrant flowers and nectar-rich blooms provide nourishment and attract a diverse array of beneficial insects and birds.

Drought Tolerance: Once established, Lobelia tupa showcases remarkable drought tolerance. This resilience makes it an excellent choice for gardens situated in hot, arid climates.

Deer Resistant: Lobelia tupa is known for its resistance to deer browsing, making it an ideal selection for gardens where deer are a common nuisance.

With its alluring appearance, ability to attract pollinators and unique characteristics, Lobelia tupa adds a touch of mystique to any garden or landscape. Its hardiness and versatility make it a captivating choice for gardening enthusiasts seeking a distinctive and low-maintenance plant.

Lobelia tupa
Red flowers of Lobelia tupa
Lobelia tupa
Lobelia tupa

Also, read about Lobelia laxiflora or Lobelia Cardinalis

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