Forget-Me-Not Plants - Information On Growing Forget-Me-Nots

Blue forget-me-not flowers
(Image credit: Tom Meaker)

Long revered for their sentimental value and symbolism, forget-me-nots are among the most recognizable garden flowers. So much so that the common name “forget-me-not” is often used to refer to one of several species of Myosotis plant.

While some forget-me-not plants are a much-welcome addition to the home garden, others have a reputation for their aggressive and invasive growth habit. Learning more about each type of forget-me-not will be key in making certain that flower beds are not overrun with unwanted invasives. Myosotis scorpioides, also known as “true” forget-me-not, is of special concern.

Quick Facts about Forget-Me-Nots

Botanical name - Myosotis scorpioides

Height - 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)

Spread - 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)

Sun exposure - Full Sun, Part Shade

Soil requirements - Neutral, Wet

Hardiness zones - USDA Zones 5-9

When to plant - Spring, Fall

Recognizing The Forget-Me-Not Flower

The true forget-me-not flower (Myosotis scorpioides) grows on tall, hairy stems which sometimes reach 2 feet (61 cm) in height. Charming, five-petaled, blue blooms with yellow centers explode from the stems from May through October. Flower petals are sometimes pink. Forget-me-not plants often grow near brooks and streams and other bodies of water, which offer the high humidity and moisture that is desirable to this species.

The perennial forget-me-not flower spreads easily, freely self-seeding for more of the wildflower to grow and bloom in shady spots where the tiny seeds may fall. Forget-me-not flower care is minimal, as with most wildflowers. Forget-me-not plants grow best in a damp, shady area, but can adapt to full sun.

Is Forget-Me-Not Invasive?

Determining whether forget-me-nots should be planted in the garden will depend upon where you live. The flowers are native to Europe and Asia, but have become so naturalized in the United States that people sometimes mistake them for native. They are anything but, however, and throughout much of the midwestern and southern United States, true forget-me-nots pose a great threat to both the backyard and local ecosystem.

Though many have labeled this non-native as an invasive, it has also been earmarked as a potential noxious weed. Noxious weeds are those which have been deemed as harmful or detrimental to natural habitats. Because of this, forget-me-not flower care will likely include removing these plants from unwanted spaces.

If you're looking for a safe alternative in the myosotis genus, try the Alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris). This plant has similar delicate blue flowers to its invasive cousin, but it is native to western North America, and is actually the state flower of Alaska.

Forget-Me-Not Care

If you absolutely must grow forget-me-nots, here are their care requirements.

Water & Light Requirements

When it comes to water, forget-me-not plants will prefer wetter-than-average soil. In fact, this species is known to thrive in soils which are muddy or remain waterlogged for extended periods of time. They are most often found growing near streams, or at the edge of ponds and other bodies of water.

Though the plants are able to survive in full sun, Myosotis scorpioides will grow best in shaded locations where they are able to receive dappled light, or are sheltered throughout the hottest parts of the afternoon.

The specimen is excellent for naturalizing a shady, woodland area. This location allows for the shade and moisture retention needed for optimum performance. Of course, if you have a shady pond or bog area in need of landscaping, this moisture-loving flower will do well there.

Propagating Forget-Me-Nots

In most instances, propagation by gardeners is not required in order for this plant to multiply. Forget-me-nots from seed are known to germinate readily, without additional care from gardeners. This self-sowing habit aids in the plant’s ability to spread rapidly throughout the garden, and ultimately, escape cultivation.

Forget-me-nots are also able to spread by the rooting of plant stolons, as well as their rhizomes. It is suggested that those who wish to grow true forget-me-not do so in containers, making certain to prevent the production and spread of seed.

Problems Growing Forget-Me-Nots

As noted, the invasive nature of this plant is especially problematic. It is not uncommon for forget-me-not leaves and stems to overtake established plantings of perennials. Native flora may also be in danger, as tangled masses of the plant form dense mats. Once established, large colonies of the plant can be immensely difficult to control.

In terms of disease, forget-me-not plants are considered to be quite robust. However, growers have reported consistent issues with common foliar diseases. Among these are mildew and rust, which may drastically decrease the overall ornamental value of the plant.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.

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