More Than One Kind of Forget-Me-Not: Wildflower Wednesday

– Posted in: Native/Invasive
10 comments

I have grown forget-me-nots for many years. I even got them to naturalize a bit in the secret garden at our old house. At our new house, I noticed some forget-me-nots intermixed with hostas growing alongside the garage. The hostas loved it there in spring but looked pretty sad in summer’s heat, so I dug them up and moved them to shadier–or at least moister–spots.

The fact that some forget-me-nots went along with them didn’t concern me at all. Yes, they self-sow where they are happy. Yes, they look ratty after they are done blooming–many plants do. They are not hard to pull up if they are in the wrong place.

But these forget-me-nots were different. Last year they were everywhere, including beds where no hostas were planted. They exploded into bloom in every garden bed as soon as spring was well under way.

Field forget-me-not, Myosotis arvensis

Field forget-me-not exploded into every available garden space, but wasn’t as pretty.

But I started to feel that they weren’t as pretty as I remembered them. There wasn’t as much blue for the amount of space they were taking up. The flowers, in fact, seemed really tiny. Was I imagining it?

No.

As you can see in the picture at the top of this post, I finally came across the more familiar forget-me-not and put the two flowers side by side. The flowers of this new forget-me-not were tiny. It was not my imagination that they didn’t look as nice.

The forget-me-not commonly grown in gardens is Myosotis sylvatica. You can buy seed from Botanical Interests or Renee’s Garden and probably just about any place that sells flower seeds. They are biennial and the first year make a rosette of leaves, then bloom like crazy the second year. This means you need to plant seed two years in a row in order to have forget-me-nots every year.

garden forget-me-nots Myosotis sylvatica

The “good” forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica)

I believe this other forget-me-not is Myosotis arvensis. According to Go Botany, field forget-me-not “can aggressively fill in around buildings and unused garden spaces.” Yes, that is exactly what has happened. Now I want to evict this plant from my garden. The problem is, I can’t tell it apart from the “good” forget-me-not until it blooms and I see that the flowers are tiny. Then I have to pull them before they set seed. And of course there are lots of other garden chores demanding my attention and I know not every plant will get pulled. It will be a long battle.

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”

Disclosure: Some links to seeds are affiliate links, which means I will earn a small commission if you purchase seeds after clicking through.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern June 2, 2015, 8:31 am

Huh, never knew! I tend to have Myosotis Sylvatica whiteout even trying and they bloom every year. I tend to just cut them off and throw the leggy seed stems where I might want some more. I do have some pink and white but all the flowers seem to be the same size. I love that brunnera has very similar flowers – the two should tango.

Donna@Gardens Eye View June 1, 2015, 6:58 pm

Well this clears up a mystery for me as to why my forget me nots grow wild and look so leggy…now I can pull them and not feel bad and seed in some real ones.

commonweeder June 1, 2015, 12:17 pm

I’ve gotten forget-me-nots at a local plant sale, but I seem to always weed them out the following year. Only a few escape here and there. I haven’t seen any of the small ones.

Owen M. May 31, 2015, 5:12 pm

Never tried to grow forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) & they may look small but; they are pretty. I am ready to make a two year commitment for that bloom. Thanks for sharing.

Sue Anderson May 30, 2015, 6:18 pm

We used to have both varieties at our old house. When we moved 2 years ago, not a single one came along with the 60+ plants that we moved. Last fall I planted seeds that did not come up, so yesterday I bought more seeds plus a plant at a church plant sale. I am sure it is the not-so-good type, but now I hope to have a little blue out there next spring.

Frank May 30, 2015, 7:06 am

So that’s what that plant is. I thought they were just some slacker forget me nots who just didn’t have decent blooms. I’ve been ripping them out, but like you say, they’re nearly identical until the day you notice they’re just not all that pretty!

Sofia May 30, 2015, 6:04 am

Amazing ones. Such a pity we don’t have them here in Israel.

Mark May 29, 2015, 9:21 pm

I tried to grow Myosotis a couple decades or so ago and thought I was failing because they never came back. No idea they were a biennial. This was when I was an obsessive weeded. Coincidence?

I hope you can get a handle on that comparatively forgettable little flower. It’s pretty but when one knows the other one your concern is understandable.

Kathy Purdy May 29, 2015, 10:12 pm

You are correct; biennials are not good plants for obsessive weeders. At least, not until they learn to recognize seedlings better. And I agree, there are worse weeds, ones that don’t pull up easy. I just feel a bit betrayed, tricked by that impostor. This is the type of thing that happens to gardeners who are not obsessive weeders.

Pat Webster May 29, 2015, 7:30 pm

Relax, Kathy. If a few ‘bad’ forget-me-nots remain and set seed, so what? Just pull them up when you are passing by and enjoy whatever happens the following year. Even a small ‘not-so’blue’ blue is nice to have.