How to Plant, Grow and Care For Forget-Me-Nots

Written by Hannah Miller. Reviewed and Fact Checked by Elizabeth Smith. Published to Spring Plants. Updated: 19th February 2023.

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For me, forget-me-nots are the ultimate companion or backdrop plant and I’ve used them to create wonderful displays with many single-stem spring plants, such as tulips and alliums.

Low-growing, with hundreds of tiny flowers, I’ve always found this popular plant incredibly easy to grow and largely pest-free.

Key plant details:

  • I’ve always grown from seeds, sown directly in the garden but you can buy plugs from many garden centres.
  • Most are short-lived perennials that are grown as biennials, some are sold as annuals.
  • Mine self-seed readily.
  • Looks stunning in pots and window boxes too.
  • In my garden, they bloom in April, May and June.
  • Prefers a shaded or part-shade location.

Size

Height: Up to 30cm (12″)

Spread: Up to 30cm (12″)

Location

Borders, beds, containers, woodland, under taller plants

Sunlight

Prefers shade, part shade and dappled sunlight but may cope with full sun in the UK

Hardiness

US zone 3-9 and hardy in all parts of the UK.

Water & Feed

Keeps seeds moist until germination. Top up with compost or other organic feed once per year in the spring

Companions

Goes very well with taller, single-stemmed spring plants such as tulips and alliums

Planting

Grow seeds outdoors in the spring or autumn to see flowers the following spring

Flowering

April, May and June in the second year after sowing

Blue forget-me-not groundcover plants
Closeup of forget-me-nots

The Best Varieties

I’ve experimented with a few different varieties over the years, and here are the ones I recommend:

Myosotis sylvatica – This is the classic forget-me-not, and as spring approaches, a low-growing carpet of tiny flowers will appear. I’ve used this extensively as groundcover below taller plants and under trees, this deciduous forget-me-not has never disappointed me and is the perfect spring companion for dozens, if not hundreds, of plants.

Myosotis scorpioides – Also known as the water forget-me-not, this variety is at home right at the edge of ponds and I’ve seen gardeners use it around water features where it hides pond liners, pipes and cables. It can also provide much-needed shelter for tadpoles, newts and other aquatic larvae.

Myosotis alpestris – This alpine forget-me-not sits perfectly at home in large rookeries and on slopes; I’ve seen the pink variety sold in the UK, and it makes a change from the popular white and blue plants.

How to Grow Forget-Me-Nots in the UK

How Do Forget-Me-Nots Arrive?

I’ve only ever grown forget-me-nots from seeds and have always found them easy to get going in my garden.

Where is the best location to sow forget-me-nots?

In my garden, forget-me-nots have struggled in strong sun so more recently I’ve been growing them in a spot with a bit of dappled shade.

I’ve seen them thrive in these places:

  • Shade.
  • Partial shade.
  • Dappled shade.
  • Under tree cover.
  • Under larger shrubs.
  • Under taller spring single-stem plants.

Will forget-me-nots survive the winter?

Forget-me-nots are winter hardy in the UK and will survive the cold winter months.

I usually grow them as biennials that self-seed and spread easily. From my experience, many won’t flower at all in year 1 but will do so in year 2, after which they usually die off.

Based on my testing and experimenting, you may find that forget-me-nots struggle in the hottest parts of the UK during unusually hot weather conditions.

Are forget-me-nots evergreen or deciduous?

Forget-me-nots lose their leaves in the winter, some or all of the stems will also die back, but the roots will survive and sprout new stems the following year.

What soil conditions are best for forget-me-nots?

I’ve found that well-drained, slightly moist soil that is fairly fertile is best.

When and how should forget-me-not seeds be planted?

The best time to sow the seeds is in the spring for flowering the following spring (year 2).

I’ve had good results by sprinkling the seeds over fertile, fine soil in part-shade or dappled sun and covering with 5mm of very fine soil. In my garden, germination takes 7-14 days.

I usually thin the seedlings out to 25cm by whipping out any weak ones.

Which pests and diseases affect forget-me-nots?

I’ve never had any issues with bugs, slugs or diseases and as far as I know, very few other pests affect forget-me-nots. They may suffer from powdery mildew, although I believe this is unlikely.

More details about powdery mildew can be found here.

When do forget-me-nots flower and how long for?

The soil should be kept moist until the seedlings have matured and during dry spells.

I’ve never fertilised forget-me-nots beyond a mulch of compost, manure or leafmould once per year in the spring.

Are there any special water and fertiliser requirements?

The soil should be kept moist until the seedlings have matured and also during dry spells.

There is no need to fertilise forget-me-nots but a mulch of compost, manure or leafmould once per year in the spring will be of benefit.

Are forget-me-nots toxic or harmful to humans and pets?

Myosotis latifolia and Myosotis scorpioides are mildly toxic, but the more common plants are rated as safe for humans, pets and animals.

2 x Marginal Plants - Including a Pot and Compost - Live Water Plant Aquatic Pond Lake Marginal (Myosotis - Forget me not)
Gift Republic GR130033 Forget Me Not Grow Me, 7.0 cm*9.0 cm*8.5 cm
2 x Marginal Plants - Including a Pot and Compost - Live Water Plant Aquatic Pond Lake Marginal (Myosotis - Forget me not)
Gift Republic GR130033 Forget Me Not Grow Me, 7.0 cm*9.0 cm*8.5 cm
2 x Marginal Plants - Including a Pot and Compost - Live Water Plant Aquatic Pond Lake Marginal (Myosotis - Forget me not)
2 x Marginal Plants - Including a Pot and Compost - Live Water Plant Aquatic Pond Lake Marginal (Myosotis - Forget me not)
Gift Republic GR130033 Forget Me Not Grow Me, 7.0 cm*9.0 cm*8.5 cm
Gift Republic GR130033 Forget Me Not Grow Me, 7.0 cm*9.0 cm*8.5 cm

How to Care For Forget-Me-Nots After They’ve Finished Flowering

I’ve found caring for forget-me-nots to be easy and trouble-free. I’ve removed some from areas of my garden by pruning the flowers before they had the chance to set seed, and I’ve encouraged the fallen seeds to germinate by treading them into the soil and keeping the soil moist.

I always add a layer of organic material/compost mulch in the spring, but apart from this and occasionally checking for diseases, I’ve found they require little attention.

Forget-Me-Not Companion Plants

I’ve been mixing and experimenting with plant combinations for years, consider these six spring plants that I feel well with forget-me-nots.

Also consider:

8 Quick Tips For Growing Forget-Me-Nots

I asked qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith to give us 8 tips for anyone wishing to grow forget-me-nots for the first time.

Here’s what she told us:

  1. The best time to plant seeds is in the spring, and while autumn planting is possible, the plants may struggle.
  2. Avoid sowing seeds in summer as the conditions are too hot, and you may lose most of them.
  3. While forget-me-nots can be grown as standalone plants, they are usually added as groundcover under taller plants or to add a splash of colour to ferns or hostas.
  4. Forget-me-nots prefer shade, light shade or dappled sunlight but I’ve seen them do well in full sun in cooler parts of the UK.
  5. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, at least until the seedlings have matured.
  6. Don’t forget that the biennials (which is most of them) won’t flower in the first year, and most will die off after flowering in year 2.
  7. Leave the dead flowers in place to self-seed and spread or prune off the flowers to prevent the plant from spreading.
  8. Remove any plants that show signs of powdery mildew on the foliage.

Problem Solving

Forget-me-nots suffer from few diseases, and I’ve never had issues with pests.

The biggest problem forget-me-nots face is the summer temperature – from my experience, I feel they are more likely to die from the hot weather in a heatwave than anything else.

If your plants die off or perform poorly, consider moving them to a cooler, shaded part of the garden with moist but not soggy soil.

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This guide was reviewed and fact-checked by qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith.

Explore: Elizabeth's profile and qualifications.

Meet The Author: Hannah Miller

Hannah is a keen gardener who grows organic fruit and vegetables in her Surrey garden and is moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle. 

She is also the proud grower of a dahlia and herb garden.

Hannah worked for the NHS for 12 years but also has a level 3 qualification in horticulture and is currently studying for her level 4.

More About Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller

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