Lobelia Inflata Care Tips: Growing The Indian Tobacco

Lobelia Inflata [Low-BEE-lee-a, In-FLAY-tuh], is a Lobelia plant species from the bellflower family Campanulaceae. 

This plant is native to North America, from southern Canada to the eastern United States, all the way to western Kansas.

Flower of the native Lobelia Inflata - Indian Tobacco

This plant is a biennial or annual herb commonly found in abandoned fields, partly shaded seeps, wooded areas, woodland paths, thickets, savannas, and open woodlands.

The common names for Lobelia Inflata plants include:

  • Indian Tobacco
  • Pukeweed
  • Vomitwort
  • Asthma Weed
  • Bladderpod
  • Gagroot
  • Eyebright

Lobelia Inflata Plants Care

Size & Growth

This herbaceous plant grows 6” – 40” inches tall and has tiny hair all over its stems. 

The alternately arranged leaves are toothed and ovate shaped, which grow about 3” inches long.

Flowering and Fragrance

These native plants produce violet flowers with yellow-tinted centers. 

The plant starts blooming from mid-summer and continues flowering throughout the fall season. 

This summertime blooming plant makes a stunning addition to the garden.

Light & Temperature

Indian Tobacco prefers to grow in full sun. However, it also tolerates part shade. 

Place this plant in a sunny window or under light shade trees.

The USDA hardiness zones of this plant are 2 – 8.

Watering and Feeding

The seedlings must be well watered until they establish roots. 

These plants need constant moisture for optimal growth, which is why they flourish most near streams or ponds. 

Water enough to get the soil wet, but avoid overwatering.

This plant might experience some damage when it is overwatered or growing in a waterlogged container.

Feed the plant with a liquid, general-purpose fertilizer monthly or after six weeks for a robust appearance.

Soil & Transplanting

The Asthma Weed prefers rich, moist soil and is extremely sensitive to moisture levels and heat in the soil. 

It is vital to make sure not to let the soil get completely dry to prevent any damage.

Grooming and Maintenance

When this plant fully establishes, it needs little care and maintenance. 

In dry, hot conditions, this plant requires frequent watering, especially if growing in containers.

While it is not necessary, deadhead the plant to maintain its appealing appearance. 

Remove any dead or wilting flowers and leaves from the plants to enhance its blooms. 

When growing in ideal conditions, this plant will keep delighting the garden with stunning blooms up till the appearance of the first frost.

How To Propagate Indian Tobacco

The propagation of this Indian Tobacco is done using seeds or cuttings. 

  • The seeds should be sown during the mid-spring season or the fall season in containers. 
  • It will take around two weeks for the seeds to germinate. 
  • Afterward, transplant the seeded plant in the garden.
  • The seeds may be planted directly in the garden as well. 
  • Begin the propagation process around 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost. 
  • The small seeds should be spread on the surface of the soil.
  • Water the seeds thoroughly and maintain continuous moisture. 
  • Be sure to plant the seeds in a well-lit, warm area when growing indoors, or under the full sun when planting in the garden directly. 
  • New growth will start emerging within two weeks.
  • Prepare the seedlings indoors to avoid frost danger, and transplant the plants in the garden when they have grown about 2” – 3” inches tall. 
  • Transplant them around 4” – 6” inches apart.

Indian Tobacco Pest or Diseases

This plant doesn’t experience any significant diseases or pests problems. 

However, it is recommended to monitor it regularly to eliminate any potential threat promptly.

Is The Plant Toxic Or Poisonous?

This plant is toxic if consumed in higher quantities; otherwise, it is safe to use.

In high dosage, it can cause serious side effects and symptoms ranging from weakness, exhaustion, salivation, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, to convulsions, pupils dilation, and even coma.

The main toxic principle in this plant is Piperidine Alkaloids which is present in the roots, seeds, and leaves of the plants. 

Higher consumption of this plant has resulted in fatalities in animals and humans.

Lobelia Inflata Uses

The flowers and foliage of this plant make it an excellent addition to the gardens. 

It is a popular plant to grow in ornamental containers, flower beds and borders, and for landscaping purposes.

The Native Americans utilized this plant for ceremonial and medicinal purposes for centuries. 

It is still a popular medicinal plant used as smoking cessation, to treat blood pressure, heart disease, respiratory tract, insect bites, muscular disorders, and asthma.

The key active compound of this plant, Lobeline, has been found to prevent depression, enhance concentration and memory skills, and cure drug addiction.