The Forget-me-not (Scorpion grasses) is a delightful spring flowering plant that is often used in borders or in cottage gardens. This plant is ideal for growing among other early spring flowers such as daffodils and tulips as a colorful ground cover.
In general, forget-me-nots will bloom in late spring and early summer with some plant species producing blooms for even longer through to late summer.
Forget-me-nots are also great as potted plants to add a little cheery color to your patio or veranda with their blue forget-me-not flowers that grow on the tips of the hairy stems. This plant has been grown for centuries in many different gardens around the world.
Because this plant is happy to grow in damp spots with partial shade, particularly the woodland forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica), it’s very useful for adding some color to areas where other flowers may not grow well.
Traditional forget-me-nots have lovely bright blue blooms with yellow centers but there are hybrids such as ‘Victoria Pink’ that have small pink flowers. There are also some cultivars that have bright blue flowers with a yellow eye.
Interestingly, plants from the Myosotis genus are commonly confused with another forget-me-not from the Chatham Islands which belongs to the related genus Myosotidium.
The forget-me-not and its flowers have an interesting and long history. The plant is mentioned in many different myths and legends as well as a variety of literary works.
Their botanical or genus name Myosotis comes from a combination of two Greek words “mus” and “otis”. This means “mouse ear” and is in reference to the rounded shape of the petals on the flowers.
In a Greek myth, while God Zeus was naming all the plants, a small blue flower was heard shouting “forget me not”, and hence it ended up with that name.
Around the 1300s, King Henry IV of England decided to adopt the forget-me-not flowers as his own personal emblem. This happened when he went into exile. It was believed that the little flower brought him luck because he soon returned to England to resume his reign.
Interestingly, the State of Alaska chose the forget-me-not as its official flower in 1949. The particular species was the alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris) even though this species is actually native to New Zealand. This is a short lived biennial that has naturalized itself in North America and Canada.
|Scientific name||Myosotis spp.|
|Common names||Forget-me-not, Scorpion grasses|
|Height||Up to 1 foot|
|Width||Up to 1 foot|
|USDA Plant Hardiness Zone||3 to 8|
|Origin||Europe, Eurasia & New Zealand|
|Flower colors||Blue, white, yellow and pink|
|Blooming season||Spring and Summer|
|Plant/Flower special features||Attractive to bees and butterflies. Will self-seed and spread throughout your garden. For this reason, it’s been declared a noxious weed in the Midwest due to its naturalization.|
How to Grow Forget-Me-Not Plants
Forget-me-not plants are most commonly grown from seeds. The easiest way to plant forget-me-nots is to scatter the seeds over a garden bed and they will germinate fairly quickly.
Once you have them growing in your garden, they will self-seed readily and spread naturally.
How to Propagate Forget-Me-Not Flowers
Forget-me-not plants are best grown from seeds but once planted, they’ll self-seed readily. Therefore, the best way to get new plants is to let them self-seed in your garden and then lift the seedlings and plant them elsewhere.
You can also collect some seeds from forget-me-not plants you have growing in the garden and start them indoors while it’s still cold outside around 10 weeks before the last frost is predicted.
Here’s how to plant forget-me-not seeds:
- Fill a seedling tray or small pots with some seed-raising mix.
- Sprinkle the seeds over the mix and cover very lightly with some additional mix.
- Water well and keep the soil moist.
- Put the pots or tray on a warm, sunny windowsill or use a heat mat under the pots or tray.
- Once the seedlings have reached a good size you can put them into larger pots.
- You’ll find that these won’t flower until the following year.
Alternatively, you can purchase packets of forget-me-not seeds quite readily for planting and sow these in late spring to early summer. This gives the plants enough time to grow so that they can flower the following spring.
If you live in a warm region that doesn’t get frost and snow in winter, you can sow the seeds in the fall and they will bloom the following spring.
Forget Me Nots Care and Maintenance
It’s really easy to care for forget-me-not flowers once you have them growing in the garden. All you have to remember is to keep them well-watered and fertilize them once a year.
The other important thing to note is that this plant will spread quite rapidly through self-seeding, so you need to keep them under control to stop them from becoming too invasive.
Forget-me-nots like well-drained soil that is nutrient-rich and kept relatively moist. This makes them ideal for growing in areas that may be too damp for other flowering plants.
Although forget-me-nots do like well-drained soil, they will tolerate soils that are damp often. They do need to be kept moist at all times so water forget-me-not often during prolonged periods of dry weather.
Forget-me-nots only need to be fertilized annually in spring with a slow-release organic fertilizer or even by adding some compost to the soil.
You can grow forget-me-not either in full sun or partial shade and they’ll grow happily. In fact, if you grow these lovely forget-me-not flowers in part shade, you’ll find that the flower colors will be much brighter. This is especially the case with the woodland forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica).
Temperature and Humidity
This hardy biennial or perennial (depending on the species) can handle both hot and cold temperatures. However, in areas of high humidity, forget-me-not is prone to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. Therefore, it’s not ideal to grow in hot and humid regions.
To get the most from your forget-me-nots, you ideally want to mass plant them and let them self-seed and grow on their own. The forget-me-not flower is quite small so you want a lot of them growing together to make an impact.
However, you need to be aware that they can spread quite quickly so some method of control is useful. If the plant grows where you don’t want, simply lift the seedlings and plant them elsewhere.
Another way to prevent self-seeding all over your garden is to deadhead the blue forget-me-not flowers so that they don’t end up producing seeds that can fall all over your garden.
Pest and diseases
Forget-me-not is not plagued by common garden pests. However, it can be susceptible to a couple of fungal diseases. This is especially the case when it’s grown in more humid areas.
This is a fungal disease that covers the leaves of the plant with a white or light-colored powdery-looking mold. It won’t kill your plants but it’s quite unsightly and very difficult to control.
Some gardeners have found success spraying susceptible plants with a mixture of milk and water at the first sign of the disease. Avoid overhead watering to limit the spread of the disease.
This is another fungal disease evidenced by yellow spots on the leaves, especially the top ones. Similar to powdery mildew, rust disease thrives in moist conditions.
Therefore, to prevent the disease from developing, it’s important to only water the soil and avoid getting the foliage wet. You can treat rust with an organic fungicide.
Uses of Forget Me Nots
Many centuries ago, it was believed that the forget-me-not was able to cure the sting of a scorpion or the bite of a snake. The forget-me-not was also used to treat horses that had certain ailments.
In fact, English horticulturist, John Gerard, included the plant in his journal titled “The Herball or General Historie of Plants”.
It was also common for people to grow forget-me-nots in their garden as a remembrance of loved ones that they had lost. The blue flowers also became a sign of remembrance for soldiers that had died in the world war. Some people would even wear sprigs of the sweet bloom on their clothes as a sign of remembrance.
These days forget-me-nots are more commonly just grown for their ornamental value and the lovely color that they add to shady gardens.
Common Varieties and Cultivars
There are currently around 74 species that are recognized. Most of these species occur naturally in Eurasia and New Zealand while a small range can be found in South America, North America, and Papua New Guinea.
Here are some common types of forget-me-nots:
- Myosotis scorpioides (Water forget-me-not or Scorpion grass with blue flowers)
- Myosotis sylvatica (Classic or Woodland forget-me-not with blue flowers)
- Myosotis sylvatica ‘Rose Pink’ (pink flower)
- Myosotis arvensis (Field forget-me-not)
- Myosotis ‘Blue Ball’
- Myosotis ‘Bluesylva’
- Myosotis alpestris (Short-lived Alpine forget me not)
- Myosotis alpestris ‘Victoria Blue’ (blue flowers), ‘Victoria Rose’ (pink flowers) & ‘Victoria White’ (white flowers)
- Myosotis stricta (Small-flowered forget-me-not)
- Myosotis latifolia (Broadleaf forget-me-not)
Forget-me-nots are easy-care flowers that will grow in both sun and part shade. They bloom from spring through to summer. Even when they’re not in bloom, the foliage adds some lovely diversity to bare spots in your garden whether in full sun or part shade.
Planting some of these around your vegetable garden and under your fruit trees is also a good idea because they attract both bees and butterflies.
See more: Forget me not symbolism
*image by dianazh/depositphotos