Forget-Me-Not: Growing, Care Guide and Symbolism

Forget Me Not


Plant Type: perennial
Family: Boraginaceae
Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Watering: moderate
Colors: Bright blue
Size: Up to 1 foot tall
Hardiness Zones: 3-8
Soil Type: Sandy, Loamy, Clay
Soil pH: Mildly acidic to mildly alkaline
Propagation: by dividing and cuttings
Toxicity: not toxic

Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) is a charming, easy-to-grow perennial flower that add a touch of beauty to various garden landscapes. Often found in woodland gardens, cottage gardens, rock gardens, and even as potted plants on patios, these delicate flowers are known for their pleasant appearance and low-maintenance nature. Adaptable to cool weather and moist soil conditions, forget-me-nots offer a pop of color as gardens awaken from their winter slumber.

Commonly grown from seed, forget-me-nots are usually treated as biennials or short-lived perennials, with seeds sown directly in the garden during summer or early fall to produce vibrant early-spring blooms. These plants are not only admired for their aesthetic appeal but are also notable for their resilience, as they can withstand the presence of rabbits and deer while attracting butterflies to the garden.

The forget-me-not holds a special place in history and culture, with connections to royalty as seen through its association with Princess Diana’s favorite flowers. A memorial garden dedicated to the late princess, located at Kensington Palace, showcases these charming blooms as a tribute to her memory. As a versatile and symbolic plant, the forget-me-not continues to captivate gardeners and nature enthusiasts alike.

Forget-Me-Not Plant Details


Botanical Classification

Forget-me-nots belong to the genus Myosotis, which is a part of the family Boraginaceae. The most commonly cultivated species is Myosotis sylvatica, also known as the woodland forget-me-not. This species is native to Europe and parts of South Asia, including Bhutan, India, and Nepal, where it grows in woodlands, forests, and rocky areas.

Myosotis Flowers

Myosotis flowers are admired for their true blue color, although they also appear in pale purple, pink, and white shades. The blooms are small with a diameter of about 0.3 to 0.4 inches (8-10 mm) and usually feature a yellow or white eye in the center. They grace gardens from April to May, attracting butterflies and adding charm to informal garden borders, mixed containers, and naturalistic settings.

Forget-me-not Leaves

The leaves are simple, green, and ovate with a slightly hairy texture. They are typically 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.5 cm) long and grow opposite each other along the stems. When the plant is well cared for, the foliage remains lush and contributes to the plant’s rounded shape.

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, forget-me-nots can serve various landscape functions, as they are versatile plants. They can be utilized as a ground cover, potted plant, or planted in cottage gardens, woodland gardens, and rock gardens. Forget-me-nots are hardy plants, thriving in USDA zones 3-8, and can tolerate growing conditions ranging from full sun to part shade with medium moisture requirements.


Forget-me-nots, part of the Boraginaceae family, are admired for their colorful blooms and versatile landscaping uses. They thrive in USDA zones 3-8, tolerating varied growing conditions.

Symbolism and Significance

Forget-me-not flowers hold a rich symbolism, often linked to remembrance, love, faithfulness, and devotion. These delicate blue flowers serve as a symbol of true love and respect, making them a popular choice for bridal arrangements and significant life moments.

Historically, the Victorians used forget-me-nots to express their devotion and commitment. They valued the flower not only for its remembrance of those who had passed away but also as a declaration of love between the living.

In addition to their romantic connotations, forget-me-nots also represent fidelity and commitment in relationships. They carry a promise to always remember a person, which makes them a thoughtful gift to communicate one’s dedication and loyalty.

These symbolic meanings may vary slightly in different cultures, but the core theme of remembrance and love remains consistent. For instance, the Alpine forget-me-not has been designated as the Alaska state flower, symbolizing the state’s indelible ties to its people and natural beauty.


Forget-me-nots symbolize remembrance, love, faithfulness, and devotion, often used in bridal arrangements and significant life events. They represent commitment and loyalty across various cultures.

Care and Maintenance


Sunlight Requirements

Forget-me-nots thrive in full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. In regions with hot summers, it is advisable to provide some afternoon shade to protect the plants from extreme heat.

Watering Forget-Me-Not

These plants prefer consistently moist soil and can even tolerate wet conditions. Some species can grow in standing water, making them suitable for marginal water gardens. Ensure that the soil is not soggy, and water deeply whenever the top three inches feel dry during warmer months. When the plants are dormant in winter, reduce watering to about once or twice a month.

Soil Preferences

Myosotis thrive in well-drained soil. To prepare the planting area, till the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches (15-20 cm), removing any rocks or debris. Enrich the soil by adding organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure, and mix it thoroughly.

Temperature and Humidity

These plants can withstand a wide range of temperatures, covering six USDA zones. They can endure both heat and cold well. However, in areas with intensely hot, humid summers, their susceptibility to powdery mildew could be an issue, making them less suitable for such regions.


Fertilization is essential for healthy growth. For both in-ground and containerized plants, use a balanced fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep a closer eye on soil moisture when growing forget-me-nots in containers, as they tend to dry out more quickly.


Forget-me-nots tolerate sun and partial shade, prefer moist soil, and thrive in well-drained, enriched soil. They withstand various temperatures, require fertilization, and can be susceptible to powdery mildew.

Types of Forget-Me-Nots

Forget-Me-Not flowers belong to the Myosotis genus, which contains several species and varieties. They are known for their delicate beauty and symbolism. This section will explore some common types of Forget-Me-Nots.

Wood Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica) is a short-lived, herbaceous perennial plant native to Europe and Asia. It belongs to the Boraginaceae family and is also known as “woodland forget-me-not.” They bloom in colors like bright blue, pink, or white with white or yellow eyes from mid-spring to mid-summer. Wood Forget-Me-Nots thrive in moist, rich soil.

Small-flowered Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis stricta) is a more compact variety with smaller flowers. This species is known for its ability to withstand harsher conditions and is often found in rocky or sandy areas.

Broadleaf Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis latifolia) is another species with larger, more rounded leaves compared to other varieties. This type of forget-me-not is often found in open woodlands and meadows.

Water Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scorpioides) is a variety that naturally grows around wetlands, marshes, and along the shores of rivers and lakes. It produces blue, white, or pink flowers in clusters on long stems and can reach a height of around 10 inches.

There are also cultivars of Myosotis sylvatica that offer more options for color, plant size, or flower size. These cultivars are typically bred for specific gardening purposes or aesthetic preferences.

Each type of Forget-Me-Not has its own unique characteristics and growing requirements. Gardeners can choose the variety that best suits their garden conditions and personal preferences.

Planting Forget-Me-Nots


When to Plant

Myosotis can be planted in early spring, before they start to grow. They perform best in cool weather and in areas where summers are not excessively hot. Make sure to choose a time when soil temperatures are consistently above freezing.

Seed Preparation and Germination

To prepare forget-me-not seeds for germination, start by sprinkling the seeds on top of moist, well-draining soil. Cover the seeds lightly with a fine layer of potting soil or compost. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, during the germination process.

The seeds typically germinate within 7-14 days. They prefer moist soil and partial shade for optimal growth.

Transplanting Seedlings

Once the seedlings have reached 2-3 inches in height and have at least two sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted to their final growing location. Be sure to handle the seedlings gently to avoid damage to their delicate root system.

Choose a spot in your garden with organically enriched soil, regular-to-ample water, and partial shade. Good drainage is essential for forget-me-nots, as they prefer consistently moist but not waterlogged soil.

Spacing and Arrangement

When planting forget-me-not seedlings, space them 6-12 inches apart to allow for proper growth and air circulation. They can be used as ground cover, in woodland and cottage gardens, or in rock gardens. If you’d like to plant them in pots, use well-draining soil and containers with good drainage.

As they grow, pinch off fading blooms to encourage new growth and maintain a neat appearance. Keeping the soil consistently moist will help ensure healthy, robust plants.


Plant forget-me-nots in early spring with moist, well-draining soil and partial shade. Germinate seeds indoors and transplant seedlings when 2-3 inches tall. Space them 6-12 inches apart, ensuring good drainage.

Pruning Forget-Me-Not


Pruning forget-me-not plants serves a primary purpose of controlling their reseeding. These plants are known to reseed themselves readily, which can lead to invasiveness in certain regions. To ensure a healthier growth and avoid any excessive spread, it is important to properly prune the plants.

Before pruning, make sure to have clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors. This will help make precise cuts and prevent the plant from getting damaged. It is best to prune the plants during their blooming season, usually from late spring to early summer.

Here are some quick steps for pruning forget-me-nots:

  1. Identify the spent flowers, which are the ones that have already bloomed and started to fade.
  2. Using the pruning shears, carefully cut off the spent flowers just above the foliage. This process is called deadheading. Make sure to be gentle to avoid damaging the plant.
  3. Discard the spent flowers to prevent them from self-seeding.
  4. Keep an eye on the plant’s growth and appearance, and repeat the pruning process as necessary throughout the season.

By regularly pruning forget-me-not plants and removing spent flowers, their growth will be more controlled while encouraging the production of new blooms. This will maintain the plant’s overall health and appearance while keeping it within its desired boundaries.


Prune forget-me-nots to control reseeding by deadheading spent flowers during their blooming season. Use clean, sharp pruning shears and repeat as necessary to maintain healthy growth.

Propagating Forget-Me-Not


Forget-Me-Not flowers can be propagated through various methods, such as dividing the rhizomes, stem cuttings, or simply allowing the plant to self-seed. This section will briefly outline these different propagation methods to help you successfully expand your Forget-Me-Not garden.

1. Dividing Rhizomes
Propagate true Forget-Me-Not plants by dividing their rhizomes in early spring. This process involves gently digging up the plants and separating their root systems into two or more sections. Each section can then be replanted in another area of your garden, allowing the plants to multiply.

2. Stem Cuttings
During summer, Forget-Me-Not plants can also be propagated using stem cuttings. To do this, carefully cut the stem of a healthy plant, ensuring that there are at least two leaf nodes on the cutting. Remove the bottom leaves, dip the end of the cutting into a rooting hormone powder, and plant it in a pot filled with moist, well-draining soil. With proper care, the cutting will develop roots and can be transplanted into your garden.

3. Self-seeding
Forget-Me-Nots are known for their ability to self-seed prolifically. If left undisturbed, the plant will spread its seeds, thereby producing new plants without any intervention. To encourage self-seeding, allow the flowers to fade and keep the soil moist. Over time, you will notice an increase in the number of Forget-Me-Not plants in your garden.


Propagate forget-me-nots by dividing rhizomes, taking stem cuttings, or allowing self-seeding. Each method helps expand your garden with proper care and suitable conditions.


Forget-me-nots are known for their ability to overwinter well, enabling them to withstand colder climates and bloom during the spring season. Their cold-hardy nature allows them to survive in zones up to zone 3 without needing any special winterizing measures.

When growing forget-me-nots in pots or containers, overwintering can be successfully managed by placing the pots into an unshaded cold frame with a southerly exposure. This protects the plants from harsh winter conditions while still allowing them to receive enough sunlight.

The key to successful overwintering is ensuring proper care for the plants during these colder months. Here are some important tips:

  • Make sure the pot has drainage holes, as forget-me-nots need moist soil but not overly saturated conditions.
  • Give the plants adequate space in the container to prevent mildew or other diseases from developing.
  • Use a light, basic potting soil that provides good drainage.
  • Position the container in a location with sufficient warmth and sunlight.


Forget-me-nots overwinter well in colder climates. For potted plants, use an unshaded cold frame, ensure drainage, give adequate space, and provide light, well-draining soil with ample sunlight.

Companion Plants for Forget-Me-Nots


When planning a garden with forget-me-nots, it is important to consider the companion plants that will complement their beauty and growth.

Recommended Companion Plants

Forget-me-nots are versatile plants that can enhance the beauty of various types of gardens. Here are some companions that grow well with them:

  • Daffodils: With their vibrant yellow color, daffodils provide an attractive contrast to the blue hues of forget-me-nots.
  • Tulips: Available in a variety of colors, tulips can be used to complement or contrast the shades of forget-me-nots.
  • Ferns, Hostas, and Heuchera: For shady areas, combining forget-me-nots with ferns, hostas, or heuchera creates a stunning display of varied foliage.
  • Rock Cress: This prolific bloomer forms a low mat of color in late spring and summer, making it a perfect pairing with forget-me-nots.
  • Wild Ginger and Columbine: These understory plants are excellent companions for forget-me-nots in woodland gardens, providing additional ground cover and floral interest.

Plants to Avoid

Although forget-me-nots generally get along well with other plants, there are a few types that might hinder their growth or compete with them for resources. It is recommended to avoid planting forget-me-nots with the following:

  • Aggressive Spreaders: Plants that spread rapidly and have a tendency to take over the garden, such as mint or bishop’s weed, can crowd out forget-me-nots and inhibit their growth.
  • Water-Hogging Plants: Forget-me-nots prefer evenly moist soil. Avoid planting them next to plants that require excessive amounts of water, which could lead to overwatering and root rot.
  • Highly Competitive Plants: Some plants release chemicals that can inhibit the growth of nearby plants, such as black walnut trees. Avoid planting forget-me-nots close to these species.

Common Pests and Diseases for Forget-Me-Not

Forget-me-not plants are generally resistant to pests, but they might still face some issues related to insects and diseases.

A common pest affecting forget-me-nots is aphids. These tiny, sap-sucking insects can damage the plant’s leaves and flowers. To control aphids:

  • Use insecticidal soap or neem oil
  • Spray water on the plant to dislodge them

Several diseases may also affect forget-me-not plants:

  1. Powdery mildew: This disease appears as a light-colored, powdery substance on the plant’s leaves. It is rarely fatal but can temporarily ruin the appearance of the plant. To minimize powdery mildew, avoid overhead watering and ensure adequate air circulation.
  2. Rust: Rust is another fungal disease affecting forget-me-not plants. Properly space the plants and regularly remove dead plant material to prevent it.
  3. Botrytis blight: This fungal disease causes brown spots on leaves and stems. Prevent it by avoiding overhead watering and providing good air circulation around the plants.
  4. Crown rot: Caused by soilborne fungi like Sclerotium delphinii, crown rot affects the plant’s lower stem near the soil. This issue may occur in damp conditions or heavy soils. Improve soil drainage and take care not to overwater the plants to avoid crown rot.

Common Issues with Forget-Me-Nots

Myosotis flowers with bee

Although forget-me-nots are generally low-maintenance plants, they can be prone to certain problems. Understanding these issues can help gardeners maintain the health and beauty of their forget-me-not plants.

One of the most common issues with forget-me-nots is fungal infections. Powdery mildew, caused by the Oidium or Erysiphe fungi, results in a powdery-white coating on the leaves, stems, and blossoms. Other fungal problems include leaf spots, rust, and downy mildew. To prevent and manage these issues, ensure the area has adequate air circulation, remove dead plant matter, and treat with a fungicide such as mancozeb or thiophanate-methyl when signs appear.

Forget-me-nots have a tendency to self-seed, causing new plants to appear in unexpected areas of the garden. There are two ways to handle this problem:

  • Cut off seed heads and discard them in the trash before they disperse their seeds
  • Remove new plants every spring when the ground is moist and the plant is easy to pull out

When planting forget-me-nots, gardeners should be mindful of the plant’s preferred growing conditions. These plants thrive in moist, well-draining soil and prefer partial shade. Ensuring that forget-me-nots receive the proper amount of sunlight and water can help prevent diseases and promote healthy growth.


Forget-me-nots can face fungal infections and self-seeding issues. Ensure proper air circulation, remove dead plant matter, and treat with fungicides when necessary. Manage self-seeding by cutting seed heads or removing new plants.


Can you plant forget-me-nots in the fall?

You can plant forget-me-nots (Myosotis) in the fall, though the optimal time for planting is from spring to August for blooms in the following season. Sowing seeds in early spring may even result in flowers by fall. If you don’t mind waiting a full season for blooms, planting the seeds in the fall is also a viable option. In this case, the plants will yield flowers one year from the upcoming spring, allowing them to establish strong roots and grow into vigorous, blooming plants.

Is forget-me-not a perennial or annual?

Forget-me-nots can be both annual and perennial, depending on the species. The most common forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica, is a biennial or short-lived perennial, while Myosotis scorpioides, also known as water forget-me-not, is a true perennial. Some species, like Myosotis arvensis, are annuals. Regardless of the type, they often self-seed, giving the impression of being perennial due to continuous growth and flowering.

Do forget-me-nots prefer sunny or shady conditions?

Forget-me-nots prefer partial shade to full shade conditions, although they can tolerate some sunlight. They thrive best in moist, well-drained soil with dappled or filtered sunlight, making them suitable for woodland gardens or shaded borders.

Are forget-me-not invasive?

Forget-me-nots can be somewhat invasive in certain conditions, as they self-seed prolifically and can spread rapidly in favorable environments. However, the extent of their invasiveness depends on the specific species and the region in which they are grown. It is important to check local guidelines and choose non-invasive species or cultivars to minimize any negative impact on native plant communities.

Should you cut back forget-me-nots after they bloom?

It is a good practice to cut back forget-me-nots after they finish blooming. This helps to prevent the plants from becoming too leggy and encourages a tidier appearance. Additionally, cutting back the plants can help control their self-seeding and spreading tendencies. After blooming, you can either remove individual flower stalks or trim the entire plant back to about half its height. This also allows for other plants in your garden to take center stage as the growing season progresses.

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