How to Grow Fringe Cups — Tellima

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Tellima – commonly called Fringe cups– is a rosette-forming herbaceous perennial that bears small, bell-shaped, white to greenish-white flowers from spring to midsummer. Tellima’s basal leaves are heart-shaped or triangular to kidney-shaped.

Tellima grows best in moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade, but Tellima will tolerate dry soil and full sun. It is drought tolerant.

Tellima is a good choice as a groundcover in a shrub border or woodland garden.

Tellima is a genus of one species. It is native to cool, moist woodlands in Western North America.

Fringecups - Tellima grandiflora
Fringecups – Tellima grandiflora

Get to know Tellima 

  • Plant type: Herbaceous perennial 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 5 to 8 
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 5
  • Height and width: 16 to 32 inches (40-81cm) tall and 10 to 12 inches (25-30cm) wide
  • Growth rate: Moderate 
  • Form and habit: Rosette-forming 
  • Foliage: Mainly basal leaves are heart-shaped or triangular to kidney-shaped, scalloped or toothed, and 5- to 7-lobed  
  • Flowers: Small, bell-shaped flowers, with 5 tiny petals, fringed into linear segments, relatively large calyces, and 10 stamens, are borne in terminal racemes 
  • Bloom time: Late spring and midsummer 
  • Uses: Groundcover, shrub border, woodland garden, edging for shade garden 
  • Garden companions: Ferns, blue-leaved hostas, columbine, meadow rue, fringed bleeding heart, dwarf goatsbeard, heart-leaf brunnera, dropwort, purple-leaf coral bells, bugbane, barrenwort, or astilbe 
  • Common name: Fringe cups 
  • Botanical name: Tellima 
  • Family name: Saxifragaceae 
  • Origin: Western North America 

Where to plant Tellima 

  • Plant Tellima in partial shade; will tolerate full sun.  
  • Plant Tellima in moist, humus-rich soil; will tolerate dry soil. 
  • Topdress Tellima with 1-2 inches (2.5-5cm) of compost every fall or very early spring. 
  • Tellima does not do well in wet soil, high humidity, and heat, especially when combined, or with poor drainage.  

When to plant Tellima 

  • Set container-grown Tellima in the garden in spring or autumn.
  • Sow Tellima in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe or in spring. 
  • Tellima self seeds freely. 

Planting and spacing Tellima 

  • Space Tellima 12 inches (30cm) apart.
  • Mix compost into the soil when transplanting Tellima.  

How to water and feed Tellima 

  • Give Tellima regular water. 
  • Feed Tellima with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring. 
Tellima grandiflora
Tellima grandiflora

How to care for Tellima 

  • Deadhead Tellima to keep plants neat, unless self-sowing is important for naturalizing. 

Tellima pests and diseases 

  • Tellima leaves are susceptible to attacks by slugs or weevils; they are otherwise pest-free. 

Tellima propagation 

  • Divide Tellima in spring every four or five years to maintain vigor and renew the soil; they grow by offsets. 

Tellima varieties to grow 

  • Tellima grandiflora, rosette-forming perennial with hairy, heart-shaped or triangular to kidney-shaped, 5- to 7-lobed, scalloped leaves, 2-4 inches (5-10cm) long. From late spring to midsummer, erect, hairy stems bear terminal racemes, to 12 inches (30cm) long, of 15-30 white to greenish white flowers, to .4 inch (9mm) long, with greenish white calyces. To 32 inches (80cm) tall and 12 inches (30cm) wide. North America (Alaska to California).   

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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