Giving the garden a pop of blue with dainty forget-me-nots

October 9, 2015

These dainty-looking, hardy flowers are every gardeners' delight in the spring. With their profusion of pale blue blossoms, these care-free plants thrive anywhere the soil is damp and there is some protection from the sun. Here are tips for growing forget-me-nots in your garden. [Image credit:]

Giving the garden a pop of blue with dainty forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots spread easily (or "naturalize") in half-shaded flower beds and woodland garden areas. You'll also often find them growing by streambeds. Forget-me-nots thrive anywhere that the soil remains damp and there is some protection from the sun.

In spring, the low spreading plants are covered with a profusion of dainty blossoms, which are usually pale blue with a yellow eye but can also be pink or white, depending on variety.

  • They're most at home when tucked into rock gardens, used as groundcovers under the shade of tall trees and shrubs, or scattered in a wildflower garden.
  • Forget-me-nots combine well with calendula and perennial candytuft. They also make a beautiful foundation for spring bulbs, such as daffodils or tulips.

Helpful growing tips

Forget-me-nots are easy to grow and simple to maintain, but require a basic amount of care.

  • Forget-me-nots like moist, well-drained, fertile soil that never completely dries out.
  • You can start seeds indoors in summer and set them out in early fall, or sow seeds where you want the plants to grow from spring through summer.
  • Sow seeds over moist soil and cover them with a light sprinkling of soil.
  • Forget-me-nots perform as biennials in most climates, blooming very little (if at all) their first year and covering themselves with flowers the following spring.
  • If you allow time for seeds to ripen completely, forget-me-nots often reseed and appear year after year.
  • Overcrowding doesn't bother forget-me-nots at all. If too many seedlings appear where they're not wanted, simply pull them up in early summer.
  • You should still see a number of volunteer seedlings emerge in early fall.
  • Forget-me-nots are usually pest-free, but tiny sap-sucking aphids can sometimes attack new growth. Just knock them off with a forceful spray of water from the hose or apply insecticidal soap, as directed, on an overcast day or after the sun sets so that the young leaves don't get sunburned.

All in the family

If you have gritty, gravelly, or very well-drained soil, you can try alpine forget-me-not (M. alpestris), an especially cold-tolerant perennial relative that comes from European woodlands.

  • These are densely tufted plants that have very fine hairs covering their leaves and stems.
  • In spring these lovely plants are frosted with lightly-scented blue flowers.

Another good perennial type is M. scorpioides, known as "true" or "water" forget-me-not.

  • This is an ideal choice for wetter areas in the garden, such as around a pond, where waterlogged soil would drown most other plants. It blooms later than its relatives, in midsummer, but has the same small blue and pink flowers.
  • The aptly named 'Mermaid' variety has bright blue blossoms and shiny leaves.

So many unforgettable forget-me-nots

The wild forget-me-not Myosotis sylvatica has small flowers and copious leaves, so it is better to choose one of the more floriferous named varieties.

  • 'Victoria Blue' forms mound-shaped plants that are covered with gentian blue flowers, while 'Victoria Mixed' features a mixture of colours including blue, white, and rose.
  • 'Rosylva' bears very bright pink flowers on 20-centimetre tall (eight-inch tall) plants, whereas 'Royal Blue Improved' is a little taller with indigo blue flowers.
  • 'Blue Ball' is a very old variety, with rich blue blossoms on 20-centimetre tall (eight-inch tall) rounded plants. Under good growing conditions, this variety will self-seed and reappear year after year.

Although small in stature and delicate in appearance, the care-free nature of forget-me-nots and their dazzling blue colours make them an easy choice for adding to almost any springtime garden.

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