Forget-Me-Not: Plant Care, Growing Tips, and Symbolism

These beautiful blue blooms are fast growers in the garden

forget-me-not flowers

The Spruce / Kara Riley

Forget-me-not is valued for its attractive flowers. While the blooms are usually blue, other colors do exist. A bonus feature is that the buds preceding the blooms are pink, so you get two colors for the price of one. These plants are herbs historically used as an astringent to treat wounds and some medical conditions.

A short plant (often just 5 inches at maturity) with a medium growth rate, forget-me-not has hairy stems. The five-petaled flowers grow in cymes with a single flower on a central stem surrounded by additional blooms on branching stems. Although small (3/8 inch), they provide a good color display because they're numerous. It can grow in the sun or shade, depending on the region. It grows best in a shady spot in southern, warmer climates with high sun.

Technically a short-lived perennial, most treat forget-me-not as a biennial, sowing seed in midsummer and enjoying the blooms the following year. It is easy to care for and requires deadheading if you don't want it to overgrow in an area. This plant reseeds readily; it is considered invasive in several states.

Common Names Forget-me-not, woodland forget-me-not, ornamental forget-me-not
Botanical Name Myosotis sylvatica
Family Name Boraginaceae
Plant Type Biennial
Mature Size 1 ft. tall and wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Moist, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral, alkaline
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Flower Color Blue, white, yellow, pink
Hardiness Zones 3-8 (USDA)
Native Area Europe
closeup of forget-me-not flowers

The Spruce / Kara Riley

forget-me-not patch

Federica Grassi / Getty Images

forget-me-nots in bloom

mikroman6 / Getty Images

Forget-Me-Not Meaning and Symbolism

The word "Myosotis" in the species name comes from Greek words meaning "mouse ear." The plant's foliage has short, pointed leaves resembling mouse ears. A forget-me-not variety, Myosotis scorpiodes, also has a unique common name, "scorpion grass," for its flower clusters that curl like a scorpion's tail.

Forget-me-nots are a popular bridal flower for their symbolism. They historically symbolize true love, respect, fidelity, and devotion.

Forget-Me-Not Care

Forget-me-not is a versatile plant. It's tolerant of rabbits and deer, draws butterflies, and can serve various landscape functions. For example, it can be used in the yard as:

However, since it does spread on its own, care should be taken to prevent self-seeding in areas where you want a carefully controlled garden. To accomplish this, deadhead spent blooms and any seed heads that form to stop the unwanted spread.

Warning

Because it reseeds readily, forget-me-not is invasive and considered a noxious weed in the Midwest, one of the U.S. regions where it has naturalized.

Light

In the North, you can grow it in full sun or partial shade. At the southern end of its range, give forget-me-not afternoon shade. The more sunlight it receives, the more water it will need.

Soil

This plant grows best in rich, consistently moist, well-drained soil.

Water

Forget-me-not tolerates wet soil. At the very least, it needs to be grown in soil kept evenly moist.

Temperature and Humidity

With a range that covers six USDA zones, forget-me-not withstands both heat and cold well, However, due to its susceptibility to powdery mildew disease, it isn't recommended for areas with intensely hot, humid summers.

Fertilizer

Fertilize forget-me-not with compost or with a general-purpose fertilizer annually. For the amount of fertilizer to use, follow product label instructions.

Types of Forget-Me-Nots

The Myosotis genus contains a number of species other than Myosotis sylvatica, including:

  • Small-flowered forget-me-not (Myosotis stricta)
  • Broadleaf forget-me-not (Myosotis latifolia)

There are also cultivars of Myosotis sylvatica that give you more options for color, plant size, or flower size:

  • Blue Basket: taller; deeper blue flowers
  • Music: flowers larger and deeper blue
  • Pompadour: compact growth habit; pink flowers
  • Snowball: white flowers
  • Ultramarine: smaller plant; deep blue flowers
  • Victoria Blue: compact growth habit
  • Victoria Rose: pink flowers
  • Victoria White: white flowers

Pruning

The key to its display value is massing several plants together and letting them get as big as possible because the flowers, although pretty and numerous, are small. For this reason, there's a disincentive to cutting back forget-me-not stems. However, if you wish to curtail reseeding, deadhead the flowers.

Propagating Forget-Me-Not

Forget-me-not reseeds all on its own. It will multiply over time. Once you introduce it to your garden, you'll have it for many years (unless you actively suppress it). If you want to propagate it, take advantage of this fact by digging up some of the plants that have spread from the original and transplanting them to other areas in spring. Space them 10 inches apart.

Grow Forget-Me-Not From Seed

Forget-me-not plants are grown easily from seed, as evidenced by the plant's ability to reseed and spread. You can introduce this spring bloomer into your garden in the following way. Buy a packet of seed by early summer. Select a spot in the garden, and prepare the soil by raking it to loosen it and smooth it out. In midsummer, broadcast the seed across the surface. Water lightly afterward and often enough to keep the soil moist. Seedlings will pop up by fall; blooming will occur the following spring.

Overwintering

Forget-me-not is cold-hardy. Unless you're trying to grow it north of zone 3, you don't need to take measures to winterize it.

How to Get Forget-Me-Not to Bloom

Its flowers are only 3/8 inches across, but it produces lots of them. It blooms for several weeks during April and May.

Provide rich, consistently moist soil for the longest blooming period and the most flowers. Forget-me-not, as a biennial or short-lived, reseeding perennial, re-blooms annually with minimal care.

Common Problems for Forget-Me-Not

Garden pests leave forget-me-not alone. But it is susceptible to two diseases:

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is that light-colored, powdery covering on a plant's leaves. Seldom fatal, it does temporarily ruin the appearance of plants. Minimize it by avoiding overhead watering.

Rust

Rust produces pustules that break open and release orange spores on the leaves undersides. But you're more likely to notice the yellow spots it causes on the top part of the foliage. Like powdery mildew, it thrives in damp environments and is best prevented by avoiding getting foliage wet.

FAQ
  • How long can forget-me-not live?

    Forget-me-not dies back every year, but it self-seeds very well, so your patch of forget-me-not could last for decades with proper care.

  • Does forget-me-not like sun or shade?

    Forget-me-nots grow best in cooler regions in full sun or partial shade. If growing in warmer, sunnier regions, it should be planted in a shadier spot.

  • Do forget-me-not flowers come back every year?

    Forget-me-nots are a perennial, coming back year after year. You can also grow it like a biennial, planting seeds in mid-summer to enjoy the flowers the following year. It also reseeds itself, making it easier to return annually.

  • Do forget-me-not flowers spread quickly?

    Forget-me-nots spread easily by self-seeding. If not deadheaded, it can overgrow. It is listed as an invasive plant in several states, including Alaska, Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Alpine Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis asiatica). U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  2. True Forget-Me-Not.University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

  3. Myosotis sylvatica. Missouri Botanical Garden.

  4. Forget-me-not (Myosotis). The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.