Ragged robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi, is a pretty native wildflower that thrives in damp soil including bog gardens, wet meadows and marshy ground. The pink, lacy-petalled flowers are borne on slender stems 30-50cm high above clumps of narrow strap-like dark green leaves, from late spring to late summer. Each petal is deeply divided into four lobes and the flowers are a deeper pink in the centres. Several named selections have white or double pink flowers, though these are much less common than the pink species. Once widespread around the UK, ragged robin is now rarely seen in the wild due to drainage and loss of wet meadows and ponds. The flowers are valuable for wildlife, rich in nectar and good for bees and other insects, so it’s especially worthy of garden planting. Ragged robin is a hardy perennial, neat-growing, and needs very little care given the right site.
How to grow ragged robin
Grow ragged robin in soil that stays moist all year round and in a site that gets sun for at least half the day. Allow seed to ripen before cutting back the flowered stems to the ground, in autumn.
Where to grow ragged robin
Grow ragged robin in a sunny site in any damp or moisture-retentive-soil – by the edge of a pond or stream-side, in a specially created bog garden using a pond liner to keep moisture in the soil, or in a damp meadow. Ragged robin associates well with other moisture-loving native plants such as lady’s smock and marsh marigold.
How to plant ragged robin
Plant pot grown ragged robin in autumn or early spring, either singly or in small groups. Small young plants can be planted direct in soil that is well prepared and clear of grass. Otherwise, pot up and grow on plugs into good-sized plants before putting in the ground.
How to care for ragged robin
Ragged robin is easy to grow and needs little care, provided it’s planted in soil that doesn’t dry out in summer.
Propagating ragged robin
In spring or summer, sow seed direct onto bare, moist soil where plants are to grow, covering with a thin layer of fine soil.
Ragged robin seeds itself and naturalizes in the right conditions. Allow the seed heads to ripen and leave either the plant to scatter its own seed from the waving stems or collect and scatter by hand over a wider area.
Divide established plants that are several years old, in autumn, by lifting, splitting and replanting to form groups or drifts of plants.
Growing ragged robin: problem solving
Ragged robin is not subject to any pests or diseases.