Dwarf cup flower (Nierembergia hippomanica) is an underused, desert loving perennial, that deserves more attention. For Tucsonans, finding a flowering plant that loves the heat, blooms profusely, is drought tolerant, and reseeds itself readily, is a dream come true. The only requirement that mars perfection is it does need light shade, such as underneath a mesquite or palo verde tree.
Dwarf cup flower grows from about 6 to 12 inches tall and wide. It has stiff, upright needle like leaves, bright green in color. Tiny purple flowers cover the plant throughout the summer. It is recommended to cut back to influence more blooms, but not necessary. Another variety is ‘Mont Blanc’ with white flowers, but it does not seem to reseed itself as easily as the purple species.
Plant Dwarf cup flower in the spring for an accent in your desert garden. Since it has low water requirements, you can use your existing irrigation system. It also does well in pots.