Dictionary of Flowers: Nierembergia (Cup Flower)

Nierembergia (Cup Flower). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Serres Fortier and Flickr
Pin It

Nierembergia (Cup Flower). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Serres Fortier and Flickr

  • Nierembergia 
  • Common name: cup flower
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Category: perennial to USDA zone 6, usually sold as half hardy annual
  • Height: 8"
  • Width: 8" 
  • Sun
  • Blooms: summer
  • Attracts: butterflies, bees
  • Growth habit: mounding. Used as a spiller or filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, moist, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, groundcover, edging, mixed border, rock garden
  • Diseases: fairly disease resistant
  • Pests: slugs and snails in wet weather

Nierembergia is an ornamental perennial plant with fine, needle-like foliage and masses of white to dark purple flowers, cup shaped.

The one-inch flowers have a yellow center and cover the plant during summer and until frost.

They are native to South America, and more specifically, Argentina. 

It's a long blooming plant, short and compact with a clumping to erect growth habit, making it suitable for both containers and as a garden plant.

Nierembergia blooms profusely with little attention. It prefers to grow in a sunny position in the garden, in fertile and moist soil. In hot summer areas, it's best to provide a little afternoon shade for cup flower.

When planted in the garden, it is somewhat drought tolerant after it is well established. It is best to keep the potting mix moist but well drained when growing it in a container.

It is self cleaning, but trimming it back after the first flush of bloom will avoid it going to seed and force it to continue blooming into early fall. 

Feed cup flower once or twice a year with a slow release balanced fertilizer when planted in the garden. For container grown Nierembergia, feed plants with a bloom boosting formula every other week. 

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Nierembergia is easy to start from seed. The best method is to start seed indoors, as it is slow to germinate.

Plant seed on moist starting mix ten to twelve weeks before last expected frost.

When seedlings emerge, keep from bright sun. If planted at 70F, germination can take two or three weeks.

Transplant to their permanent position after danger of frost has passed and when the seedlings have at least two pairs of true leaves.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Cup flower is not bothered by disease or pests. If slugs and snails attack during spring weather, bait as needed.

Popular varieties:

  • Nierembergia hippomanica var. caerulea 'Purple Robe' - six to twelve inches high, purple blooms
  • Nierembergia hippomanica 'Mont Blanc' - six to twelve inches high, white blooms
  • Nierembergia hybrid 'Augusta Blue Skies' - lavender flowers, one foot plant. Trailing habit
  • Nierembergia hybrid 'Summer Splash Bouquet- compact variety, six inches tall. Blooms can be white or purple

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

Go from Nierembergia (Cup Flower) to the Dictionary of Flowers

More great ideas for Container Gardening!

Leave Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.