How To Grow And Care For Forget-Me-Nots
Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) is a woodland ground cover that blooms blue flowers high above the green foliage in the spring. It is commonly used among the spring-blooming bulbs but can be grown in containers, woodland areas, borders, and cottage gardens. The species has blue flowers, less than an inch wide, with five rounded petals and a white or yellow central eye. Buds are pink so there is a two-tone, blue/pink appearance. However, there are pink and white flowered cultivars as well.
Easily grown from seed, this perennial is known for self-seeding and looks great when grown in masses. In the South, the plant is not considered a noxious weed or invasive plant, but it is in some Midwestern states. Forget-me-not plants are deer-resistant, and the flowers attract bees and butterflies.
Common Name: forget-me-not, wood forget-me-not
Botanical Name: Myosotis sylvatica
Plant Type: Perennial
Mature size: 6-12 in. tall, 6-12 in. wide
Sun Exposure: Partial, Shade
Soil type: Moist but well-drained
Soi pH: Neutral to Acidic
Bloom Time: Spring
Flower Color: Blue, Pink, White
Hardiness zones: 3-8 (USDA)
Native Area: Europe
Forget-me-not is a spring-blooming, herbaceous perennial plant. It needs shade from the afternoon sun or a very light, dappled shade. It prefers moist but well-drained soil, high in organic matter, typical of a woodland. Often this plant is grown with spring blooming bulbs but forget-me-not plants are also used in the border as a bedding plant, in drifts under trees, and containers. Because it is grown in soil high in organic matter, it does not need to be fertilized nor should it need supplemental watering, unless in a container. It will die down in the winter and come back in the early spring. This plant produces a lot of seed pods and is known for increasing by seed.
Forget-me-nots need morning light and afternoon shade or light shade.
Use well-drained, moist soil, high in organic matter (think woodland).
This plant should not need supplemental watering.
Temperature and Humidity:
A cool season plant, forget-me-not thrives in the spring but may die back a little in the summer with the heat.
No need to fertilize.
Types of Forget-Me-Nots
There are cultivars of Myosotis sylvatica:
The Victoria series is a compact type with blue, rose or white flowers.
The Sylva series is compact with blue, rose, and white flowers.
Blue Basket is taller with a deeper blue.
Pompadour is compact and rose pink.
Snowball has white flowers.
Ultramarine has dark blue to lavender flowers.
There are other Myosotis species that are not grown for the garden in the South. However, there is one called true forget me not or water forget me not (Myosotis scorpioides) that has similar blue flowers but grows in a different environment. It prefers very wet soil, near ponds or streams. In fact, it can grow in shallow water, about 3 inches deep. This is a summer bloomer and is difficult to find commercially. It is not as cold hardy as M. sylvatica and is not invasive or a noxious weed in the South but may be in some Midwestern states.
Because forget-me-not self-seeds quite readily, it is advisable to deadheaded or prune, as in shear, the flowering stalks to prevent seed dispersal. Do this after its spring flush of blooms and before the summer when you can easily see the seed pods.
Forget-me-not plants can be propagated by division. The best time is after its spring flush of blooms, after you have deadheaded it, which would be early summer. Loosen with a garden fork around the perimeter of the plant. Then lift with hands and shake or wipe the soil off to see how best to divide. Divide so you have root as well as foliage and replant. Water to get established.
How to Grow Forget-Me-Not from Seed
Forget-me-not is easy to grow from seed, either collected from already established plants or a purchased packet of seeds. You can either start seed indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost date, under lights; or outside in the garden 1 to 2 weeks before the last spring frost or late summer/early fall for bloom the following year.
To start seed indoors under lights
In clean seed starting trays (with drainage holes), add moistened seed starting mix. Sprinkle the seeds on top and press to make contact with the moist mix.
Place under grow lights or fluorescent tubes, leaving lights on for 14 to 16 hours per day. The lights have to be adjustable. They should be only a few inches away from the plant.
Mist with water frequently so seeds do not dry out. It is important that they do not dry out when they begin the germination process because germination will stop if allowed to dry and the seeds cannot be “revived.”
As the seed germinates and grow, you may have to adjust lights to continue to be only a few inches away from the plant.
As the seedling grows, you can water or mist less often because the roots have formed and are able to obtain water from a lower depth in the mix.
Thin the seedlings, which is to reduce the number in order to create space for the rest. Cut the weakest seedlings with nail or manicure scissors at the base. This will make room for the strongest. Best to cut, do not pull seedlings out as this will disrupt the rest of the seedlings.
When the last spring frost has passed, you can move outside to harden off. Harden off by putting in the shade first, protected from heavy rains and winds. Gradually move to the garden bed or container.
Water to establish the plants.
To start seeds outdoors, prepare the soil first, making sure it is high in organic matter, loose, weed free, and moist (water first). Sprinkle seed on top and press to make contact with the moist soil. Water again and water until established.
Forget-me-nots are very hardy plants that become dormant in the winter, so nothing needs to be done to overwinter the plants.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Forget-me-nots are generally pest resistant, but they may get aphids which will suck out the sap. You can spray water on the plant to dislodge them or spray with an insecticidal soap. There may get slugs which you can lift and put in a container of table salt or sprinkle the plants with iron phosphate.
They are susceptible to a few fungal diseases such as rust, powdery mildew, and leaf spot. Powdery mildew makes the plant look like it is coated in a white powder, rust causes red/orange spores on stems and leaves, and leaf spot is characterized by dead or dying spots on the foliage. One can use a sulfur-based fungicide or prevent by not watering at night or overhead. If this happens in the summer when the plant is already struggling because of the heat and humidity, it is best to prune the foliage off and trash (the plant should come back next spring). Another fungal issue is crown rot, web-like fungal growth at the base of the plant, which will kill the plant. For this it is best to remove the plant.
Common Problems with Forget-Me-Nots
The most common problem is that forget-me-not plants self-seed and new plants appear in other areas in the garden. There are two ways to handle this: 1) cut off seed heads and put in the trash before they are allowed to disperse their seeds; and/or 2) every spring, when the ground is moist, and the plant is emerging, just pull the young unwanted plants and put in the trash.
The second most common problem is that by summer, the plant has ceased blooming, and the foliage becomes unsightly and brown. Either trim the foliage back or let other plants cover the unsightly foliage.
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Read the original article on Southern Living.