The forget-me-not flower is pretty unforgettable. Those dainty blue (or sometimes pink or white) flowers sure do make a garden look its best! However, some people can’t forget them because they spread like crazy and quickly become invasive! If you’re not careful with the beautiful blooms of forget-me-nots, you’ll find yourself wishing you could forget.
If you have bad luck with keeping plants alive, you may want to welcome this relentless flower into your empty flower beds. Forget-me-nots are easy to care for when they get enough water. One thing to note about this flower is its status where you live. There are a few different varieties of them, and some of them are listed as invasive or noxious weeds. Be sure you’re not introducing a problem into your area!
The woodland forget-me-not, or Myosotis sylvatica, is the least problematic forget-me-not of the bunch that we’ll spend some time looking at today. There are many other varieties you can find in North America that may or may not be a problem where you live. Let’s look at how to care for these beauties!
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- Neem Bliss 100% Cold Pressed Neem Oil
- Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew (Spinosad)
- PyGanic Botanical Insecticide (Pyrethrin)
- Garden Safe Slug & Snail Bait
- All Seasons Horticultural And Dormant Spray Oil
- Southern Ag Liquid Copper Fungicide
- Bonide Sulfur Fungicide
Quick Care Guide
|Common Name||Forget-me-not, scorpion grass|
|Scientific Name||Myosotis sylvatica, Myosotis scorpioides, Myosotis alpestris, Myosotis latifolia, Myosotis secunda|
|Height & Spread||6-12 inches height, 6-10 inches width|
|Light||Full sun, partial shade|
|Soil||Well draining, nutrient-rich|
|Water||Prefers moist soil, tolerates wet soil|
|Pests & Diseases||Aphids, crown rot, downy mildew, potato flea beetles, leaf spot, powdery mildew, rust, slugs, snails|
All About The Forget Me Not Flower
The forget-me-not flower grows well in the northern hemisphere in temperate areas. Most species are native to Europe and Asia, although the alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris) is native to North America. Many European and Asian varieties have naturalized in the US and rooted themselves as invasive species that can spread rapidly and choke out native plants, which is why many people consider forget-me-not flowers to be problematic.
Many gardeners grow these plants as annuals, but depending on their location’s climate, they can be grown as perennials or biennials. The plants have clusters of small flowers that are usually blue, but they can also be pink or white. Forget-me-not flowers produce many seeds, so they’re likely to reseed themselves, meaning that if a plant can’t come back on its own, you’ll probably see new plants in early spring of next year.
Types Of Forget Me Not
The most common forget-me-not you can find in many gardens is the woodland forget-me-not or Myosotis sylvatica. This one isn’t considered as invasive as the other species, but it still doesn’t have a perfect track record! Before you add forget-me-nots to your garden, do some research to find out which kinds won’t be a problem in your area. This kind of forget-me-not is more often than not blue, grows up to a foot tall, and prefers moist soil.
Myosotis scorpioides is the true forget-me-not, but it’s not treated as such because it’s considered a noxious weed throughout most of the US. The true forget-me-not looks similar to the woodland forget-me-not, but you can tell them apart because the true forget-me-not is naturalized in wet areas around the Great Lakes and hasn’t spread elsewhere.
The alpine forget-me-not, Myosotis alpestris, is native to the northwestern part of North America. It’s Alaska’s state flower and can be found throughout the western parts of Canada and as far south as Oregon. It’s limited to high altitudes with cool temperatures, and since it’s a native plant, so it’s unlikely for it to be considered invasive. Those who want to grow forget-me-nots may consider this type first. You can tell this one apart from the others by the calyx tube hairs, which is the green part connected to the flower blooms. The alpine hairs are hooked or curled while other species are straight.
Myosotis latifolia is the broadleaf forget-me-not. It’s native to western Africa, and usually in the United States, it is only found on the western coast of north and central California. It gets its name from the broad leaves at the base of the plant. The leaves and the woody stems are how you can easily identify these forget-me-not plants.
Myosotis secunda, the creeping forget-me-not, is also native to Europe, but this one is hard to find in the US. It grows in wetlands such as rivers, swamps, and other freshwater pools. Unlike other forget-me-nots, it grows long stems with single flowers growing from points on the stem. If the stem is in contact with the soil, it’ll develop roots and continue growing. As you can imagine, this one can easily become invasive since it can freely root as it pleases! If you want to grow forget-me-not, you might consider another variety.
Caring for Forget-Me-Not Flower
Once your forget-me-nots are established in a place where they can get the right sun, water, and nutrients, you won’t have to do much to keep them alive! Let’s take a look at what you need to do to start growing forget-me-nots and get these flowers thriving in your garden.
Sun and Temperature
Forget-me-not flowers like full sun or partial shade, depending on where they are. In warm climates, they’ll prefer afternoon shade. In cool climates, getting at least six hours of direct light will be crucial to keep them happy.
It’s possible to go about growing forget-me-nots in USDA zone 3-8. Some varieties, like alpine with its blue flowers, will be happier in the cooler zones, while others, like woodland, grow better in warmer zones. All forget-me-not flowers don’t like too much sun and will go to seed and die once temperatures get consistently hot in the summer. Therefore, partial shade is essential in areas where early summer and late summer is hot.
Many varieties can tolerate cool temperatures and may even survive over winter, but saving forget-me-not seeds for next year, or letting plants drop their seeds are the best way to make sure you’ll see more blooms. As we’ve mentioned, this is one of the easiest parts of growing forget-me-nots.
Water and Humidity
Making sure your forget-me-not plants have plenty of water is crucial to keeping them alive and thriving. While the woodland variety can tolerate some drought, these need plenty of water –especially in hot summers – to keep their blue flowers happy. One rule of thumb is to keep the soil moist.
You can check the soil with your finger to see when it’s time to water. Forget-me-not plants need a drink when the top two inches of soil are dry. Water them at the base of the plant and let them drink until those top two inches are moist again. The flowers can tolerate wet soil, but standing water is never a good thing, so be sure you plant them in well-drained soil. If you’re growing them in a container, it’s important to have drainage holes at the bottom.
We recommend watering in the early morning so the water can have a chance to soak into the ground before the sun comes out and evaporates everything. Try to avoid getting the leaves wet to prevent the spread of disease.
You won’t need to water as often when it’s rainy or when the plants are dormant in the winter. You may need to water once or twice a month in the early fall and winter, but a good shower may allow you to skip watering for an entire week.
You can grow forget-me-nots almost anywhere since they’re not too picky about the type of soil they put their roots in. Regardless of the soil you have, you should add organic matter like decaying leaves or compost to give the plants extra nutrients. If your soil is poor quality, this will be a crucial step to making the plants look their best.
Above all else, make sure the soil is well-draining so the plants won’t be sitting in a puddle of water. Most varieties can tolerate wet or soggy soil, and creeping forget-me-nots are a ground cover native to wetlands, but wet soil isn’t something you should have in your garden if you can help it.
Fertilizing Forget-Me-Not Flower
If you plant forget-me-nots in nutrient-rich soil, fertilizers will be next to unnecessary. You can refresh the soil with compost once or twice a year to give your plants an extra boost, but that’s about all you’ll need for these easy-to-please plants.
If the soil isn’t the best, fertilizing will be necessary. Especially with potted plants, a layer of high-quality compost periodically throughout the growing season should suffice, but you can also use water-soluble or granule fertilizers. An NPK of 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 will work well in early summer and late summer. Nitrogen is responsible for encouraging foliage growth, so if you’re adding fertilizer later in the growing season, a low nitrogen option will be best so your plants can focus on making flowers.
You only need to prune forget-me-nots if they’re spreading rapidly or they’re not visually appealing to you. Where many species occur, they’ll spread naturally. It’s technically only necessary to prune the hairy stems of this flowering plant if a disease is spreading through your flower bed. So, you may never need to prune!
Remove spent flower heads before they drop seeds to the soil surface to prevent self-seeding. If you want to get rid of entire plants, you can uproot them completely or cut stems at the base of the plant.
Forget-me-not seeds are pretty much the only way these plants propagate, and you’re sure to have an endless supply of them once you get a few plants established!
True forget-me-nots have rhizomes that you can separate and propagate that way. Creeping forget-me-nots develop roots at different points on the stems once they come into contact with the soil, so you could separate the newly established roots form the rest of the plant in late spring.
It’s easy to grow forget-me-not plants because they don’t have many issues. Even so, you may occasionally come across some problems. Here’s what you can do to remedy them!
The biggest problem you’ll face with forget-me-nots is their invasive tendency to spread. You can prevent this by removing flower heads right after they finish blooming. Remove entire plants in crowded areas as well as the plants that popped up outside of where you wanted them.
These water-loving varieties that grow on river banks may be tricky to care for at first if you’re used to other plants that prefer dry soil. If yours are wilting and have crunchy leaves, it means they’re too dry. If they’re wilting and have limp leaves, it means they’re too wet.
Water more often if they’re dry and refrain from watering if they’re too wet. In severe cases of overwatering, you may have to remove them and move them to a different location with soil that drains better. You’ll be more likely to do this with container specimens than those in-ground.
Pest issues aren’t typically a problem, but if you do end up with critters, it’ll probably one of these three.
Aphids can be yellow, black, brown, or green. They’re small and suck out the sap of leaves and stems, causing them to look wilted. The simplest solution is to spray them off with water, as they don’t usually keep a tight grip. Consistently spray them off for a week or so and you’ll notice the population dwindle. Neem oil will kill off their eggs. Ladybugs love to snack on aphids, so it’s a good idea to avoid using products that will hurt ladybugs so you can allow nature to do its thing.
Flea beetles aren’t a common problem, but they can be annoying when they show up! They’re black and so small that they look like seeds, and they, like aphids, suck sap out of foliage. The easiest way to prevent them is to cover newly planted flowers in early spring just after the last frost, since this is when the beetles are most active. You can use an insecticide such as spinosad or pyrethrin to get rid of infestations if you weren’t able to prevent them.
Aside from aphids, slugs and snails may be the biggest pest issue you’ll have. The easiest way to get rid of them is to pick them off at night. It may not be your favorite chore, but it sure is effective! An organic slug and snail bait can lure them away from your plants as well.
Forget-me-nots aren’t prone to many diseases, but if they do contract something, it’ll likely be fungal. Crown rot is more likely to show up and will have a web-like appearance. Other fungal diseases may include downy mildew, leaf spot, powdery mildew, and rust, all of which will cause discoloration on the leaves.
Most fungal diseases can’t be fully cured, so prevention is the best option. Avoid getting the leaves wet when you water, and make sure your perennial varieties and annual varieties have plenty of airflow between them. You can use horticultural oils such as neem oil and spray them on the foliage weekly to prevent spores from developing. You can also use sulfur or copper fungicides to eliminate fungal pathogens on leaf surfaces.
When you see a disease spreading, remove the damaged leaf tissue and spray the remainder of the plant with a fungicide. If the issue persists, remove the entire infected plant as well as any neighboring plants it may have touched. Spraying horticultural oils or fungicides on plants after you remove infected plants will be the best way to prevent it from spreading further.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does the forget-me-not flower symbolize?
A: The forget-me-not flower symbolizes remembrance, true love, and respect. They’re a great flower to give to someone you love.
Q: How long does forget-me-not flower for?
A: Most forget-me-not varieties will flower in spring and summer. They usually begin in March and will last until it gets too hot. It depends on the species and your climate.
Q: Do forget-me-nots come back every year?
A: Depending on your climate, most varieties will behave as annuals and will only come back via the seeds they dropped. Some varieties can be treated as perennials or biennials if the temperatures are just right.
Q: Do forget-me-nots like sun or shade?
A: Full sun is ideal in cool climates, but they’ll need afternoon shade in hot climates.
Q: Is forget-me-not flower poisonous?
A: Myosotis sylvatica, the woodland forget-me-not, is edible and safe to keep around pets, but eating too much may upset your stomach. Most varieties are mildly toxic when eaten, especially Myosotis latifolia, the broadleaf forget-me-not, and Cynoglossum amabile, the Chinese forget-me-not, which isn’t an actual forget-me-not.
Q: Are forget-me-nots poisonous to pets?
A: Myosotis sylvatica is the safest plant to grow if you have pets. It’s mildly toxic if eaten in large quantities. Other varieties are considered toxic and aren’t safe around pets.