Thomas Jefferson recorded planting the Cardinal Flower in one of the oval flower beds near the house at Monticello in 1807.  This native perennial was introduced to Britain in 1626. It was recommended for garden use by Jefferson's nurseryman friend, Bernard McMahon, in The American Gardener's Calendar, 1806, and the earliest American reference comes from John Bartram in 1783. At one time this flower was used by Native American Indians as a root tea for treating stomach aches, typhoid and other diseases.
The Cardinal Flower is a hardy, North American summer-flowering perennial which has brilliant scarlet flower spikes above deep, blue green basal rosette of foliage.
Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Cardinal Flower.
Typical Blooming Dates: July - October
Growth Type: Perennial
Location at Monticello: West and East Lawns
Planting Conditions: Partial and Full Shade
Hardiness Zones: 4-8
- Dutton, Joan Parry. Plants of Colonial Williamsburg Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg, 1979
- Leighton, Ann. American Gardens in the Eighteenth Century Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1986
- Notes on the State of Virginia
- Seeds available for purchase at Monticello Museum Shop
- Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants
- ^ Betts, Garden Book, 335. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello, 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986),67-68.
- ^ Alice M. Coates, Flowers and their Histories. (London: Black, 1968), 152.
- ^ McMahon, 72, 151, 292, 345, and 461.
- ^ Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 192.