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Lobelia is a plant of the bellflower family. The genus Lobelia is extremely diverse: they can be annual and perennial herbaceous plants, shrubs and dwarf shrubs, and even small trees. Lobelia originates from South Africa and has more than 300 species in the wild, found mainly in subtropical and temperate climates. But only about 20 species are used in gardening, one of which is Lobelia Swallow's Nest.
Botanical description of perennial and breeding history
The type of Lobelia Swallow's nest belongs to herbaceous perennials with an erect stem. Plant height reaches 70-80 cm. The root system is weak with thin shoots. Has lanceolate alternate leaves and medium-sized five-petal flowers, collected in loose apical inflorescences. The two upper petals of the flower are straight, and the lower three are fanned out.
Inflorescences can be of various shades from white to dark purple. Pollinated by insects, which are attracted by the pleasant delicate aroma of flowers. Once ripe, seed pods are formed with small, dark brown seeds that can be used to grow seedlings.
Lobelia owes its name to the Flemish botanist and physician at the court of King Jacob I of England - Matthias L'Obel (1538-1616), who for some time served as the chief caretaker of the royal botanical garden, where he grew several species of these flowers.
Description of appearance, photo
The tall grassy bush of Lobelia Swallow's Nest has a thick, straight stem, densely covered with large leaves and flowers, shaped like bells, which are collected in a bright racemose inflorescence at the top of the stem. Flowers can be in different shades of blue and purple, as well as white.
Distinctive features, advantages and disadvantages over other varieties
This type of Lobelia is distinguished by its unpretentiousness and a long flowering period from May to the first frost. In rainy and cool weather, the flowers close and lose their color. But with the advent of sunlight, bright colors return.
On hot days, the plant requires additional watering, otherwise the upper flowers begin to dry and fall off.
The advantage of this species is that it is sufficiently resistant to disease and is not susceptible to parasites.
This view is often used in landscape design... He is appreciated for the opportunity to add color variety to design solutions. Plants are planted along paths and along the banks of artificial reservoirs, used as background plants in the formation of group compositions, and in many other ways.
Where and how to plant it?
Lobelia Swallow's Nest is a tall crop intended primarily for cultivation in gardens and backyard plots. Therefore, we will consider the rules for planting it in open ground, as well as the features of growing a plant from seeds. And let's start from the landing site.
Lighting and location
Lobelia is originally from South Africa, so it is better to choose well-lit places or partial shade for her. In deep shade, the plant will grow rapidly, but produce weak inflorescences with small flowers.
The plant develops well on loamy and sandy loam loose soils. If on a site of soil of a different composition, you can pour specially prepared soil into the holes during planting. To do this, use a ready-made mixture for flowering plants, but you can also prepare it yourself from equal parts of garden or forest land, sand, peat and humus.
It is better to sift the soil first and be sure to treat it with a fungicide solution, then it will be easier to work with it and the seedlings will feel good. In addition, for drainage, expanded clay or other material must be added to each hole to help drain excess moisture.
The distance between the holes should not be less than 15 cm, and the depth of each should not exceed 25 cm. Several shoots can be planted in each hole, then the lobelia bushes will be thick and lush.
Features of growing from seeds
Seeds of Lobelia Swallow's Nest are very small and easily carried by the wind. And if it is already growing on the site, self-seeding is possible. But in this case, the plant may appear in areas not intended for it and will begin to bloom much later than the planted seedlings. Therefore, it is better to start growing plants from seeds with seedlings.
The seeds are harvested at the end of September. To do this, it is enough to cut off the stem with seed pods and gently shake it over spread paper or some kind of container. Store seeds in a dark, dry place in a clean, tightly closed jar. For those who are going to grow these flowers for the first time, seeds can be bought in specialized stores in bulk or in granules of 5-8 seeds each. From such granules, a finished bush is obtained, which is very convenient to dive.
Seedlings are sown from mid-February to April. For this, small plastic containers are used, in which it is imperative to make holes for drainage. Next, the following actions are carried out:
- The containers are filled with the same earthen mixture as described in the Soil Requirement section and lightly moistened with a spray bottle.
- Granules are carefully laid out on the surface at a distance of 3-4 cm from each other. It is also better to sow loose seeds in several pieces in one place.
- Carefully, so as not to brush off the seeds, moisten the crops from the spray bottle.
- Cover with foil and put in a warm, bright place.
Do not cover the seeds with soil, they should germinate in the light.
For seed germination, the temperature should be + 20 + 22 degrees. But after 10-15 days, when the first shoots appear, it is better to transfer them to a place with a temperature of about + 15 degrees. All the time while the seedlings are growing, it is necessary to monitor the soil moisture, ventilate the plants and remove moisture from the film.
Do not spray small sprouts with a spray bottle, otherwise they may no longer rise. Watering is best done so that no water gets on the sprouts. It is convenient to do this procedure with a syringe without a needle.
You need to remove the film gradually:
- from the first day for 30 minutes a day;
- after the first shoots appear, remove the film for 2 hours a day;
- then every day we increase the airing time by another 20 minutes.
You can completely remove the film after the sprouts reach 1 cm.
After the appearance of full-fledged leaves, you can proceed to the pick... This is the process of transplanting the strongest shoots into separate plastic cups with 3-5 pieces of bushes. It is convenient to do this with a teaspoon, carefully cutting out the sprouts with the surrounding soil and transferring them to a new container. The transplanted plants are kept in a bright, cool place at a temperature of +15 +18 degrees.
The next stage - pinching - occurs when the sprouts reach 3-4 cm. It consists in carefully cutting off the upper leaves of all sprouts with scissors. This promotes better root growth and greater tillering of plants.
The last important step before planting in open ground is hardening the seedlings. It is better to start it on a quiet, windless day. First, we set the plants in the shade, the next day we take them out in partial shade, then we take them out in the sun for 1-2 hours. And only after that you can plant the grown seedlings in the place designated for it.
There are pros and cons to growing plants from seed. The pluses include:
- resistance of grown plants to diseases and pests;
- good adaptability of young plants to external conditions.
The disadvantages of this method can be considered:
- long and painstaking process of growing seedlings;
- long term of plant development before flowering;
- not guaranteed obtaining varietal characteristics.
The nuances of care and reproduction
After planting Lobelia Swallow's Nest in open ground and rooting, the plant will require further care, namely:
- Immediately after the seedlings have taken root, you need to carry out another pinching procedure, for better rooting and the formation of a lush bush.
- It is necessary to monitor the moisture content of the soil - it should not be too dry or waterlogged.
- To obtain abundant flowering, you need to loosen the soil.
- At the end of the first wave of flowering, the tops of the bushes must be cut off by 5-7 cm, this will lead to the appearance of new shoots and repeated profuse flowering.
As for fertilization, it is best to use complex mineral fertilizers containing phosphorus, nitrogen and calcium. The first time feeding can be done a couple of weeks after planting and repeated during flowering.
With fertilizers, both mineral and organic, you need to be very careful, because their excess will promote the development of green mass and inhibit the formation of flowers.
In addition to propagating a plant using seedlings from seeds, another method is possible - cuttings, which has some advantages:
- rapid growth and the beginning of flowering of seedlings;
- preservation of all species characteristics.
But the method also has some disadvantages:
- laborious process;
- stress experienced by the donor plant.
To obtain seedlings, you must do the following:
- Before the first frost begins, dig up the plant and bring it into a bright room with a constant temperature of +5 +7 degrees.
- In March, when young shoots appear, separate them from the parent bush, slightly moisten the tip of the shoot with water and place it in Kornevin solution for 2 hours (at the rate of 1 g per 1 liter of water).
- Then place them in a prepared substrate or steamed sawdust.
- Cover the shoots with glass and transfer to a shaded place.
- Prepare containers for planting, for which pour expanded clay and ready-made soil mixture into them.
- After 2-3 weeks, when the wilting of the sprouts stopped and the formation of the root system began, plant them in prepared containers, tamp the soil around the seedling and pour with settled water at room temperature.
- Remove containers with seedlings in a cool shaded place, where they should be before planting the material in open ground.
Further care will be no different from that described above.
Lobelia Swallow's Nest is a wonderful plant that will decorate any garden or summer cottage. If you also want to delight yourself with its beauty until late autumn, use these tips and you will definitely be able to grow this type of Lobelia for your flower garden.