Plant of the Moment: Lobelia tupa
This is the first year the plants have flowered and I am completely entranced by them. I grew them from seed last year and they were pretty easy to germinate and grow on. Once the seedlings were of a reasonable size I planted them out in the border. That was this early summer last year, they didn’t do much last year but they have come through the very cold prolonged winter we had which is amazing considering that in the RHS A-Z of Plants they are listed as being half-hardy. As you can see from the photo below the plants grew quite tall, the tallest is about 3.5ft. The clump below is made up of 5-6 plants and I am pretty certain that I will have to split them up next year as the plants bulk up particularly as the reference books describe them as clump forming.The Lobelia tupa has many attributes. Personally I think the leaves are excellent; they are downy and a soft grey green colour, lance-shaped and a generous size, in some case up to 30cm long.
What helps to make the plant zing in the border even before the flowers appear are the stems. The red-purple stems provide a wonderful contrast to the leaves giving an almost designer look. The piece de resistance though are the flowers with one at the top of each stem. The flowers are racemes up to 45cm long made up for tubular red-orange flowers which can be up to 6cm long. They really are extraordinary looking but for me it is the dying flower that is really wonderful.
I note from the A-Z that the plant originates in Chile and to me this plant definitely looks exotic enough to have come from South America.