- The Basics of Forget-Me-Not Plants
- What’s the Reason Behind the Name?
- Varieties of Forget-Me-Nots
- How to Plant Forget-Me-Nots
- How to Grow This Plant
- Propagating Forget-Me-Not Plants
- Caring For Forget-Me-Not Plants
- Harvesting Forget-Me-Nots
- Can You Plant Forget-Me-Not in Pots?
- What Type of Forget-Me-Not Plants Come Back Every Year?
Forget-me-not is a flowering plant that belongs to the genus Myosotis in the Boraginaceae family. They mostly grow beautiful blue flowers that make them a favourite among most people. The flower has also earned its place in poems and novels because of its pretty appearance. Along with blue, their flowers can also be pink or white. These biennial flowers emerge towards the mid of spring and continue to bloom till the heat of summer. If you are considering growing these in your balcony or yard, this article is a must-read.
The Basics of Forget-Me-Not Plants
Here are some essentials about the plant:
1. Genus Name
2. Plant Type
Under 6 inches and 6 to 12 inches
8 to 12 inches
Sunny, partially sunny
6. Flower Color
Blue, Pink, White, Yellow
7. Foliage Color
Blue or Green
8. Season Features
Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
9. Problem Solvers
Slope/erosion control, Drought tolerance, Groundcover
3 to 8
What’s the Reason Behind the Name?
The genus name of the plant “Myosotis” is derived from Greek. It means “mouse’s ear,” as the leaves of the plant resemble the same. The species name “Sylvatica” in Greek means “of the forest”. In modern languages, the flower has a symbolic meaning to its name rather than a meaning derived from physical characteristics. The name forget-me-not comes from a literal translation of the name of the flower in German.
The flower also has several legends behind it. One of the most well-known legends is that of a drowning knight who tossed a bouquet made of the flowers to the love of his life standing on the banks, with the cry, “forget me not”. The name is thought to have been born then. So the flower has been a symbol of remembrance for hundreds of years. The flower was also o King Henry IV’s emblem throughout his exile and even after he returned. On the first day of July, residents wear the flower to commemorate the death of soldiers in France on July 1, 1916.
Varieties of Forget-Me-Nots
There are two main types of the plant – the true forget-me-not, Myosotis scorpioides, and the perennial plant. The second one is Myosotis sylvatica, which is called the woodland forget-me-not. It is a short-lived perennial. Both the species look very similar but differ a little in their bloom time and growing conditions. Here are some of the varieties commonly grown:
1. Myosotis Scorpioides
These are found close to water bodies such as ponds and rivers. They form an essential part of the aquatic environment as the plants grow close to the edges of shallow water and offer shelter to aquatic animals such as tadpoles, larva, etc.
2. Myosotis Sylvatica
These are the classic forget-me-not biennial flowers that appear close to late spring with blue flowers. This species can self-seed and sustain themselves, producing flowers freely for years without needing any extra care.
3. Myosotis Arvensis
These are the typical forget-me-not plants that grow in clumps in fields with blue flowers. They are annual and sometimes continue blossoming till autumn. They also come with pink flowers and can outlast winters.
4. Myosotis ‘Blue Ball’
These are selectively bred to grow to a height of 15cm and stay in compact mounds. They give blue flowers that bloom in spring and early summer.
5. Myosotis ‘Bluesylva’
These plants are cultivated for a smaller spread. They are biennial and have blue flowers with yellow eyes that fade in time to white.
6. Myosotis Alpestris
The myosotis alpestris or ‘Victoria’ are cultivated for their long flowering period. They give soft pink, blue and white flowers.
How to Plant Forget-Me-Nots
When it comes to growing forget-me-nots in the garden, you must get the spot right as different plant varieties are suited for different habitats. Myosotis scorpioides, for example, grow in the marsh or close to water bodies such as lakes and ponds. They are ideal if you are planting some in a garden with a small pond. The woodland variety grows in damp woodlands and grasslands. They need well-drained soil to stay healthy. Regardless of the variety you choose, germinating them remains the same. Start with deep trays that contain germinating soil mix and surface sow the seeds into the moist soil.
Maintain the temperature close to 65 or 72 degrees Fahrenheit and ensure the soil stays moist. The seeds should germinate within two weeks and take about a year more before reaching maturity and growing flowers. Thin out the forget-me-not seedlings as they begin to develop leaves. The first set of leaves contain the seed leaves; they are not the true leaves. Wait for the second set of leaves to develop. When the seedlings have grown big enough and have healthy roots, transplant them in your yard or to the planter where you intend to grow them. If you wish to germinate and grow them in the same spot, sow the seeds in the place you want them to take roots. Prepare the soil by tilling and mixing some compost to make it more nutritive. Plant the seeds once the frost has passed so the seedlings can grow in good weather.
How to Grow This Plant
Forget-me-not is a resilient plant that thrives in zones 3-8. They can tolerate drought well but becomes dormant in the hot summer months after the seeds are set. Depending on where you live, you can plant them in full sun or partial shade. If you live in the hotter zones, ensure they are in a place where they get some shade. The woodland variety does quite well in all the different soil types. Because of its success in propagation, it is also considered a weed by many as it often grows at the borders of cultivated land and in fields. The soil demand in your garden is minimal. However, they do very well in well-drained soils that have a pH in the 6.0 to 8.0 range. To encourage the growth of lush blossoms, fertilise the flower bed once a month in both spring and summer. Use a fertiliser high in phosphorus and potassium, such as NPK 5-10-10 ratio or something similar. Apply the fertiliser as per the directions on the package.
Propagating Forget-Me-Not Plants
Myosotis plants propagate quite easily through seeding or division. Most varieties planted in gardens are biennial and grow from the dispersed seeds in the summer and fall. The plant’s flower dries up and dispenses the seeds, which grow and reach maturity a year later while the old plant dies. Since they self-seed, your flower patch can propagate on its own from seed. As long as you do not deadhead the plant in your garden, they will seed every summer after the bloom and persist in the garden without any extra work. If you are growing for the first time, you can collect the seeds from an existing flower patch or buy them at your local nursery. Prepare the soil mix and sow the seeds individually or sprinkle them over the bed before spraying water.
You can also germinate them inside and transplant them to the flower bed. If you transplant the plants in spring, they will blossom the same year and continue through self-propagation by division and transplanting. If you already have a flower bed, you can divide the surviving forget-me-nots once in three to five years after they have flowered in the spring or early fall. First, the root ball needs to be carefully dug up and separated by hand through pulling. Then, the divisions can be transplanted to other places to start new flower beds. To transplant, start by digging a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and place the root ball inside. Fill up the soil and water it a little bit. The spot you choose should be well-drained and moist even before the transplantation.
Caring For Forget-Me-Not Plants
What makes forget-me-not plants so attractive for gardening is their low maintenance. They don’t have too many natural pests or diseases like other decorative garden plants, and they will do well as long as they get good water throughout. The most common type, Myosotis scorpioides, is native to the United States and almost grows like a weed everywhere. If they are not controlled, they can take over other garden areas and compete with the rest of the plants for space and nourishment.
If you are growing them in a planter on your balcony, they can become vulnerable to pests and diseases as they are confined to a small space and do not have a chance to self propagate over a wide area. Aphids are common pests that attack the plant. They can be warded off by using horticultural oil spray. Fungal infections such as Crown Rot or Powdery Mildew can also affect your plants. They can be treated with organic fungicides. When it comes to how often to water forget-me-nots, a rule of thumb is to ensure that the soil they grow is moist. Since they love moisture, you have to ensure the soil never dries up.
When you grow forget-me-nots, you will realise there’s no reason to collect their seeds as they are self-propagating. However, if you need to harvest seeds for any reason, it can be done easily. As the plants begin to turn brown, spread some newspaper underneath. Pull up the plants and shake the stems over the newspaper to get the flower heads to drop their shiny black seeds. Collect as many seeds as you want and funnel all that you have collected into a container.
Can You Plant Forget-Me-Not in Pots?
Yes, forget-me-not flowers are very attractive as potted plants and are easy to care for. If you provide the right growing conditions, it is quite easy to grow them in any container. As moisture-loving plants, they also do very well in plastic, metal, and fibre planters, where the soil tends to stay moist for longer than ceramic or clay pots. They also need good air circulation and well-drained soil. Individual plants can be grown in planters as big as 12 inches with good drainage holes. These plants can also do well on average to poorly fertile soil owing to their wild lineage. To get the best out of them, use a mix of equal parts compost and coarse sand to make the potting mix. This mix is enough to sustain the plant as it gets all the nutrients it needs and good soil drainage.
What Type of Forget-Me-Not Plants Come Back Every Year?
The Perennial varieties of forget-me-not can sprout from underground roots or reseed to create new growth. There are also varieties that are annual and biennial that do not come back every year. Forget-me-nots are excellent decorative plants to grow in your yard or balcony. They can be germinated from seeds and take about a year to mature and produce pretty blue, pink, or white flowers, depending on the variety. The flowers carry a deeply symbolic message of remembrance in many cultures all around the world.