Silene flos-cuculi

Common Name: ragged robin 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Native Range: Europe, Caucasus, Russia
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Rose-pink, rarely white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies


Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils, in full sun to part shade. Plants prefer sunny sites with moist, moderately fertile loams. Part afternoon shade is best in hot summer climates. Species plants can self seed abundantly in the landscape.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Silene flos-cuculi, commonly known as ragged robin or cuckoo flower, is an upright herbaceous perennial of the pink family that typically grows in the wild to 12-30” tall in moist open meadows of Europe. More specifically, it is native to damp marshy areas, floodplains, bogs, ditches and marshes throughout most of Europe with concentrations in Great Britain and Ireland, but it has also escaped cultivation and naturalized throughout northeastern North America (Quebec and Ontario to North Carolina) plus Washington and Montana. In the U.S., it is typically found in moist but non-wetland areas. Once established, it will perform surprisingly well in some drier soils.

Ragged robin features a narrow rosette of stalked, spathulate to oblanceolate, bristly-hairy, gray-green, basal leaves from which sticky-hairy, sparsely-branched stems rise well above the foliage to 24-30” tall. Middle and upper stems are clad at the nodes with pairs of stalkless, untoothed, narrow-lanceolate leaves (to 3” long and 1/2” wide). Star-shaped, rose-pink (rarely white) flowers (to 1 1/2” across) bloom in terminal clusters primarily from May to early July, but sometimes continue with a sparse sporadic additional bloom throughout the remaining summer. Each flower has five petals, with each petal being deeply cut into 4 narrow segments.

Lychnis flos-cuculi, Lychinis coronaria and Agrostemma flos-cuculi are former names and current synonyms of the within plant.

Genus name means catchfly or campion.

Specific epithet means flower-of-the-cuckoo in reference to the bloom time occurring in spring (May) when cuckoos are first heard in Britain and Ireland.

Common name of ragged robin is in reference to the ragged appearance of its lobed flower petals. Common name of cuckoo flower is in reference to bloom time coinciding with spring activity by cuckoo birds in Europe.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Peripheries of garden ponds. Bog gardens. Moist meadows. Cottage gardens. Wild gardens. Open woodland areas or naturalized areas. Consistently moist areas of borders. Some experts believe this plant grows best as a wildflower in its native habitat where it will freely self-seed.