This sweet little spring plant is famous for the adorable, five-petalled that burst from its stems from May right and right through October. Usually pale blue and with striking yellow centres, these flowers are easy to remember.
Forget-me-nots – or myosotis – are traditionally seen in country gardens; however, their understated elegance means they are perfectly suited to both traditional, modern, formal and informal settings.
This plant is perfect for borders or the edges of paths and will complement other spring-blooming flowers, making a charming addition to any garden.
What are forget-me-nots?
Myosotis comes from the Greek word meaning “mouse ear,” which the leaves of forget-me-nots are said to resemble. The genus consists of over 200 species and, while they are famously pale blue, they can also come in many other colours including shades of pinks, oranges, and whites.
Forget-me-nots are steeped in symbolism and, in almost every country where they are found, it seems there is a myth or a legend involving them.
Often used in wedding bouquets, forget-me-nots are said to symbolise true love and were given as a gift with the hope that the recipient would never forget the giver. They are also said to represent long-lasting connection which can include not only the bond that exists between lovers but also between friends.
Legend has it that forget-me-nots got their unforgettable name when a medieval knight was walking along a river with his lady love. He was holding a bouquet which he wished to gift to his beloved; however, his armour was too heavy, and he fell into the river. As he fell, he threw the bouquet to his lover, uttering his last words “forget me not!”
Types of forget-me-nots
As previously mentioned, there are hundreds of species of forget-me-nots which consist of many variations of colour, size and other characteristics that set them apart.
With so many types to choose from it can be hard to know where to start, so we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite forget-me-nots to help you find the best ones for your garden.
This variety of forget-me-not is a short-lived herbaceous perennial plant that produces gorgeous blue, pink or white flowers with striking yellow or white centres which bloom from mid-spring to mid-summer.
Wood forget-me-nots are easy to grow and prefer moist, well-drained, organically rich soil in full sun or partial shade. Growing from 5 to 12 inches, they are well-loved by butterflies, bumblebees and other helpful pollinators.
Thanks to their incredibly low maintenance nature, this versatile little plant is perfect for rock gardens, borders, banks and underplanting shrubs.
The field forget-me-not is generally biennial or annual and, sometimes, a perennial herb. This particularly popular plant produces blue, funnel-shaped, five-petalled flowers and can grow to a height of 4 to 16 inches.
The seeds of this variety can stay dormant for up to thirty years until they deem it a suitable time to sprout and germinate when conditions are favourable. This plant is pollinated by small flies but it can also self-pollinate if necessary to ensure seed production.
Field forget-me-nots are best grown in full sun or part shade and in moist, well-drained, organically rich soil. This low maintenance plant will perform superbly in borders and beds, slopes and banks, rock gardens, underplanting shrubs and roses as well as in containers.
This erect herbaceous perennial produces gorgeous sprays of sky blue flowers with tiny yellow centres which bloom from early to late summer. Typically growing to a height of 6 to 10 inches, the water forget-me-not loves to sprawl across the ground, creating a magical flower carpet.
This beauty is easily grown in full sun or partial shade and, while it prefers wet to moist conditions, it can adapt to ordinary soil providing it has the moisture it needs and the soil contains clay-loam.
Water forget-me-nots are ideal for water gardens and wet areas and are a stunning addition when planted around streams, bogs, banks and ponds.
This variety gets its name thanks to the changing shades of colour of its flowers. Blooming from May to September, the petals first appear cream or pale yellow and then gradually turn to pink, violet or blue.
The changing forget-me-not is a perennial or annual growing herb which can grow to a height of between 4 and 20 inches and produces leaves in a variety of shapes that are coated with small, soft, straight hairs.
Like the other forget-me-nots on this list, they are easy to grow, prefer full sun or partial shade and will perform best in open, grassy areas.
Last but not least, the strict forget-me-not is perhaps the most familiar type and is the variety that truly symbolises love and friendship. It is also the earliest blooming forget-me-not in the entire family, producing delicate blue flowers from May to June.
Strict forget-me-nots typically grow to a height of between 2 to 8 inches and are perfect for attracting useful pollinators into your garden. They prefer full sun to light shade, in mesic to dry conditions, preferring loamy or sandy soil.
This type of forget-me-not is perfect for rocky outcrops, banks of streams, and dry areas where other plants may not so easily thrive. They are also known to reseed themselves aggressively.
Care and growing tips
Now that you’ve decided that your garden is crying out for unforgettable, forget-me-nots you might be wondering where to start. The next section will guide you through growing forget-me-nots in your garden.
Where to plant
While some types of forget-me-nots may differ slightly, generally most prefer to grow in sunny or slightly shady spots, in moist, well-drained soil. Some varieties prefer a little more shade, and when paired with other shade-loving plants, they can make for an enchanting display.
Make sure you research your chosen type of forget-me-not before planting to ensure you place it somewhere it can thrive. That said forget-me-nots are very adaptable and versatile and will do well in most conditions.
Growing from seed
In May and June, you can sow forget-me-not seeds directly outside. Alternatively, you can also grow them inside in May, June and September.
If you are choosing to grow them inside then simply sprinkle the seeds and then cover with a layer of compost. Place them in a warm spot or use a heated propagator to ensure the conditions are perfect for germination.
Once the seedlings are large enough, you can prick them out and plant in a pot, and you will be rewarded with their famous flowers the following year.
Forget-me-nots will readily, and sometimes aggressively, self-seed. You can either allow them to do their thing and spread where they wish, or if you want to share the love, or introduce them to another part of the garden, you can lift new seedlings and give them as a gift or plant in a new area.
Ongoing care and maintenance
Forget-me-nots are incredibly low maintenance and will pretty much take care of themselves. That said if you would rather they didn’t just spread freely around your garden you can pull up plants before they seed to prevent them from spreading to extensively.
Pests and problems
Thankfully there are no pests that are particularly attracted to forget-me-nots. The only problem you are likely to face is powdery or downy mildew after flowering.
These fungal diseases are recognisable by the white, powdery patches that appear on upper and lower leaf surfaces. One surprising but effective way to combat these unsavoury looking disease is mouthwash which will kill fungal spores and keep your forget-me-nots happy and healthy.
Make your garden unforgettable
As you can see, forget-me-nots are so easy to include in your garden and, being so low maintenance, are perfect for beginners as well as gardeners with busy schedules. They are also a perfect and rewarding way to introduce children to gardening.
Be sure to research the type of forget-me-not you are planting to ensure you provide it with the best conditions to thrive, and before you know it, you’ll have a garden that’s hard to forget.