Forget-me-nots (Myosotis), also known as scorpion grass, often grow in European forests and meadows.
The plant also grew in gardens for many centuries as medicinal and ornamental plants. In ancient times, the former “magic herb” used to be found mainly in monasteries and herb gardens.
Today there are numerous different varieties of the spring-flowering plant, which bloom not only sky blue, but also white, pink, or purple.
Origin and Distribution
The botanical name Myosotis comes from the ancient Greek word for mouse ear. This refers to the shape of the leaves.
The approximately 50 species of the genus are native to almost the entire world. Where the lyrical name comes from is not exactly clear. A whole series of legends refer to the origin of the name, which varies greatly from region to region.
Everywhere, however, a bouquet of blue-flowered forget-me-nots is considered a sign of love, fidelity, and farewell.
Today, the small flower no longer has such a strong significance. Instead, you can often find the lush blooming spring flower in gardens as an ornamental plant.
You can plant the pretty forget-me-not very well together with other spring bloomers and bulbous flowers such as tulips and horned violets together in the bed or as a border.
For a colorful sea of flowers, it is best to choose species that bloom in May for an association. The numerous flowers are particularly effective if you sow them in large numbers. They can easily form a larger carpet then, especially as some species multiply and spread rapidly by root runners.
Thus, the forget-me-not can also be used very well as a filler plant to cover larger gaps. Those who do not have a garden, but a balcony or terrace, can also cultivate the attractive plant in a planter.
Only for indoor culture, the various hardy species are not suitable.
Appearance and Growth
Depending on the variety, the forget-me-not grows between 8 and 16 inches (20 and 40 cm) high and forms long flower shoots. Some forget-me-nots can even grow higher.
Most species are annuals or biennials, but there are also perennial varieties. But the flowers can also self-seed every year and tirelessly keep coming back.
Initially, the young plants grow as a rosette and form long, slightly hairy leaves. It is not until spring that the long, sometimes heavily branched flower shoots with terminal inflorescences appear.
Many species are true spring bloomers and show their splendor between April and June. Other varieties, however, bloom throughout the entire growing season until October.
The small, five-petaled flowers are usually light blue, although there are now also pink and white flowering cultivars. Some varieties are initially pinkish-red in bud and only later turn blue.
The forget-me-not is not poisonous, but, on the contrary, even edible. For this purpose, use the delicate blue flowers, which, however, have little flavor of their own.
For this they are all the better as a pretty decoration, for example, of salads and soups or on bread. In folk medicine, the marsh forget-me-not, in particular, was also used as a medicinal plant in the past. But science could not yet prove the attributed effects.
Therefore, the small flower is almost only used in homeopathy. Some example applications are for chronic bronchitis or diseases of the lymphatic system.
Which Location is Suitable?
In terms of location, almost all forget-me-not species and their varieties prefer a sunny to semi-shady location.
Flowering will decrease with increasing shade. Basically, however, Myosotis still thrive very well in light shade.
With regard to the soil, the choice of the appropriate place in the garden is no longer quite so straightforward. That is because the various species of forget-me-nots have sometimes very different requirements.
Some prefer sandy subsoil, others need nutrient-rich, moist soil. Therefore, choose the appropriate planting location – rock garden or pond edge – according to the needs of the selected species.
Basically, however, you won’t go wrong with humus-rich, well-drained garden soil.
Species growing in fresh soil also prefer slightly acidic soil. So you should improve the planting soil with rhododendron soil or bog soil.
This substrate also works well for pot culture, and you can further improve it with compost.
Most forget-me-not varieties for the garden grow biennially. You sow them in the summer months between the end of May and the end of July and only get flowering plants the following year.
In this case, you can sow the seeds in trays and cultivate them there, as well as directly to the intended location. By winter, the plants have grown so much that they can survive the winter outdoors without any problems.
And this is how sowing works:
- Prepare the planting area; dig and crumble well.
- Make furrows.
- Spread the seeds and cover them lightly with soil.
- Keep the soil moist and regularly pluck out any weeds.
- Germination occurs at temperatures from 64 °F (18 °C) after about 14 to 21 days.
- Prick out the seedlings in August.
- Keep a distance of approx. 8 inches (20 cm) between the seedlings.
The seedlings grown in this way often flower from March onwards if the weather is suitable.
For pot culture, you can also grow the seedlings in winter on the windowsill. But then they will bloom much later.
Planting Forget-Me-Nots Correctly
In the spring, many garden centers also sell pre-pulled forget-me-nots. You can simply plant these yourself in the bed or pot after mid-May.
In this way, you do not have to wait a whole year before you can enjoy the blue splendor of the flowers.
And this is how planting works:
- Select a location.
- Loosen the soil well.
- Remove any stones, roots, and weeds.
- Place the forget-me-nots in a bucket filled with water.
- If necessary, loosen the root ball with your hands beforehand.
- Let the plants soak up moisture.
- Plant the plants in the soil at a distance of 8 inches (20 cm) from each other.
- Alternatively plant them in tuffs of three to five plants.
- Do not plant deeper into the soil than they were in the container.
- Press the soil well and water it.
Be sure to maintain the specified planting distance of 7-8 inches (15-20 cm). The plants spread quickly and then need appropriate space to grow.
Watering and Fertilizing Forget-Me-Nots
Forget-me-nots are easy to care for and bloom profusely, as long as you follow these care rules regarding watering and fertilizing:
- Keep the soil / substrate evenly moist.
- Allow the substrate surface to dry out between waterings.
- During the hot summer months, water in the morning and evening as needed.
- Avoid waterlogging.
- Do not water over the flowers, but directly on the soil.
- Use rainwater with low lime content.
- Fertilize three times a year with compost and horn meal / horn shavings.
Pruning Forget-Me-Nots Correctly
You can easily extend the flowering time of the forget-me-not with a targeted pruning of faded shoots.
In this way, the plants do not put their energy reserves into the formation of fruits and seeds, but instead, develop a new flush of flowers.
In addition, pruning directly after flowering has the advantage that you prevent or limit self-seeding. To do so, leave only parts of the flower stalks for fruit ripening.
If you don’t prune your forget-me-nots after flowering, cut them just above the ground in early spring.
In addition to sowing, you also have the option of propagating forget-me-nots vegetatively. That is, via cuttings or division. These methods work best as follows:
Large plantings of perennial species that need to be reduced in size and/or limited in growth are most suitable for division.
After flowering, pick up a sharp, clean spade and carefully dig out the plants in the desired area. This often works better with a digging fork, especially since you injure fewer roots with this tool.
Divide them into several sections, each of which should have a strong root mass. Plant them separately in the new location.
You can also very well cultivate such partial plants in pots and other planters.
For cuttings, cut off a few basal shoots with a sharp and clean knife by June. Do that after flowering, if possible.
Locate the cut between the root base and the stem. Make sure there is a small piece of the root on each cutting, as this is where the new root ball will develop.
Dip the cutting in a rooting powder and plant the shoots individually in pots with a low-nutrient growing medium.
Alternatively, rooting in a water jar is also possible, although you should only use lime-free water like rainwater for this. Make sure to change the water daily.
Adding wood ash prevents the development of rot. Then transplant the young plants into the bed either in late summer or in the following spring.
Forget-me-nots are hardy plants by nature and frosty temperatures do not affect them.
Nevertheless, you can cover especially young specimens planted in the fall with leaves and straw. This protects them from excessively cold temperatures and other winter unpleasantness.
In any case, forget-me-nots cultivated in containers need winter protection, so that the root balls do not freeze through.
To do this, place the plant pot on a thick base of Styrofoam or wood and wrap the planter with bubble wrap or a piece of gardener’s fleece.
Diseases and Pests
Forget-me-nots are quite susceptible to some fungal diseases such as mold and mildew. To avoid infection, keep the stand airy and do not water them from above.
Occasionally provide the plants with a fortifying plant broth. We recommend a field horsetail broth for this.
If a fungal disease does break out, remove infected plants as quickly as possible. Dispose of them with household waste.
This is the only way to prevent more widespread infection. As far as pests are concerned, it is mainly aphids that give these plants a hard time. These often appear when the location is rather dry.
Species and Varieties
The forget-me-not (Mysotis) is a genus of plants comprising about 50 different species from the family of the borage plants (Boraginaceae).
There exist numerous cultivated varieties of some of them, which are popular as ornamental plants in the garden. The most important Mysotis species for the home garden are:
Field Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis Arvensis)
The field forget-me-not is particularly delightful in the garden due to its very long flowering period. Between April and October, it tirelessly displays its numerous, branched flower shoots.
This hardy species usually grows as an annual or biennial and thrives best in a nutrient-rich, fresh, loamy soil. Plants grow to about 16 inches (40 cm) tall and are versatile.
Changing Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis Discolor)
The changing forget-me-not bears its name not without reason. After all, there are always differently colored flowers on a plant.
In the beginning, they are usually yellowish, later they turn reddish, and only later do they take on a blue-violet color. You can often find yellow and blue flowers together on one and the same specimen, which makes it easier to distinguish the variety from other Myosotis species.
The annual herbaceous plant grows only between 4 and 12 inches (10 and 30 cm) high and blooms between April and June.
It thrives most beautifully along wooded edges, along with pine forests, on sandy lawns, and along farmland and roadsides.
Early Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis Ramosissima)
The early forget-me-not with its tiny, light blue to sometimes white flowers grows only to about 10 inches (25 cm) tall. This annual species mainly colonizes sunny slopes and hills on sandy, dry soils.
It is therefore wonderfully suited for cultivation in rock gardens and gravel beds. In addition, you can also use this vigorous plant to green dry stone walls very well.
The early forget-me-not blooms between April and June.
Tufted Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis Laxa)
The tufted forget-me-not also has many names like bay forget-me-not, small-flower forget-me-not, or small-flowered forget-me-not. It is exactly the right choice for humid to alternating humid underground.
In the wild, you can find it mainly on the banks of water bodies in northern and central Europe. The plants reach a height of between 8 and 20 inches (20 and 50 cm) and do not form runners.
They show their blue-white flowers between May and August.
Strict Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis Stricta)
The annual strict forget-me-not or blue scorpion grass grows only up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall. It thrives best in sandy soils, so you can confidently cultivate the dainty spring bloomer on sandy lawns and stony substrates.
In the wild, the species also occurs on lean, sandy soils. You will primarily find it on dunes, roadsides, sandy fields, and also on rocky outcrops.
The strict forget-me-not blooms already from March and thus very early in the year. Moreover, the blooming period lasts quite long into June.
True Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis Scorpioides)
The true forget-me-not or water forget-me-not grows mainly in wet areas. You will find it on the marshy edges of smaller lakes or ponds and along ditches or streams.
Generally, it occurs along with nutrient-rich bodies of water, as well as on wet meadows and in marshy woodlands.
But is also an important garden plant for planting along the edges of garden ponds or streams.
The species grows up to 32 inches (80 cm) high and displays its flowering splendor for an exceptionally long time. The flowering period extends from May to September.
The true forget-me-not is a valuable food plant, especially for bees and butterflies.
Wood Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis Sylvatica)
The biennial wood forget-me-not or woodland forget-me-not grows between 6 and 18 inches (15 and 45 cm) tall and displays numerous sky-blue flowers between May and July.
The species is widespread, especially in southern Germany, and thrives primarily on the edges of sparse forests. But it also grows in greasy meadows and other sites with fresh, nutrient-rich soils.
In addition to the wild form, there exist numerous cultivated varieties for the garden. You can even find some of the cultivated varieties in the wild. An attractive variety, for example, is ‘Rosylva’ with numerous pink-purple flowers.
The two related species creepy navelwort or blue-eyed-Mary (Omphalodes verna) and the great forget-me-not or Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) are two equally pretty representatives of the plant genus.
You can cultivate these wonderfully together with the various forget-me-not species listed here. Both varieties bloom between April and May and thrive best in fresh, humus-loamy soil.
While the creepy navelwort mainly serves as ground cover and quickly crowds out weaker plants with its numerous runners, the great forget-me-not is an attractive perennial for sunny to semi-shady locations.
The variety ‘Variegata’ of the great forget-me-not also scores with pretty, white-green variegated leaves.