Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Rough and Tumble Cup plant

 Cup plant is one of my must have rough and tumble wildflowers

"What's a rough and tumble wildflower?"you might be wondering. They're beautiful and  charming plants that  haven't had their best characteristics bred out of them. There are no cultivars or hybrids~That means they have not been crossed or genetically altered by human hand to be shorter, more floriferous, double flowered, disease resistant, sterile or what ever else is the going fad. I am pretty sure you can't improve on what nature has already done~creating plants that dance beautifully and gracefully with their pollinator and wildlife partners.

Cup Plant is a native of tall grass prairies where it grows in moderately rich, moist well drained neutral to alkaline soil. Expect it to make itself at home in your garden by setting down a central taproot and shallow rooted rhizomes. First year seedlings are easily transplantable from where you don't want them to where you do. It can and will spread vegetatively (and by seed) to form a large and tall colony that makes a striking statement in the back of a garden. Plant it with other prairie forbs and grasses to create a pocket prairie. 

You just can't beat the composite flowers when it comes to wildlife value, but, there's something especially wonderful about Cup Plant. Once the flowers open the pollinators descend upon the garden and they stay until the last petal falls from the plant and then the birds eat the seeds. But, even before it blooms, the wasps, Bumble bees, flies and small birds stop by to drink the rain and dew that has collected in the fused leaves that form a cup around the plants square stems. It's a very cool plant.

 What you can expect:

A big plant presence,
good looking flowers,
spreads assertively,
a rough and tumble wildflower,
tons of happy pollinators,
great wildlife value...

A tattered beauty in the garden July 22, 2014

 I never have to worry about this one disappearing from the garden ;)


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. I haven't seen that one here, what a cool plant.

    1. I love it...with your space it might be perfect.

  2. I wasn't familiar with it but it sounds like a winner!

  3. I am always leary of these big tall plants. I planted Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) 20+ years ago and still fight to control it. It is a beautiful plant, insects love it, you can eat the tubers (and I have) but... It will never go away and it does like to take over. I never give a start of it to anyone that lives on a city lot. Anyway that is my take on it.
    I have been skeptical on any of these big tall plants ever since. I am afraid that in my old age I will end up with just these plants in my garden.

    1. I understand and I pull the first year plants out ALL the time.

  4. Oh yes, this is a very special plant, for sure, for so many reasons. The pollinators love it! Your photos are beautiful, as always, Gail. Happy September!


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson