A forget me not

Alpine Forget-Me-Not

True forget-me-nots (Myosotis scorpioides) are popular in mixed borders and shade gardens where their sky blue flowers are a sure sign of spring. It’s nice to know there is also an alpine species that adds just as much beauty to the rock garden.

Description of alpine forget-me-not: The alpine forget-me-not is a dainty perennial that blooms in early summer. The flowers are essentially identical to the true forget-me-not and in the same shade of true blue, but alpine forget-me-nots are borne on shorter stalks (about 6 inches high). The plant has small tufted leaves and a loose papery sheath at the base of the stems. Ease of care: Moderately easy.


Growing alpine forget-me-not: The alpine forget-me-not does well in both sun and partial shade. It requires a gritty soil that retains moisture.

Propagating alpine forget-me-not: By division or seed. It should be allowed to self-sow since it is rather short-lived and could almost be considered a biennial.

Uses for alpine forget-me-not: The alpine forget-me-not looks most at home — and also grows best — in crevices and scree gardens, or rock gardens.

Alpine forget-me-not related species: Woodland Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) is often erroneously sold as M. alpestris. Woodland forget-me-not requires moderate shade and rich, moist soil to grow well; it is not a good choice for the well-drained soils of most rock gardens. It is an annual or biennial plant and readily self-sows. The flowers range in color from blue to pink and white.

Scientific name of alpine forget-me-not: Myosotis alpestris

Want more information? Visit the following articles:

  • Rock Garden Plants: Learn which flowers and plans work best in rock gardens.
  • Gardening: Want gardening basics – start here with our guide to gardening.
  • Rock Gardens: We answer all your questions about rock gardens.
  • Garden Types: Learn about the various types of gardens, and which is right for you.

Plant of the Week

Myosotis asiatica range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis asiatica). Photo by Edna Charmaine Delmatier.

Alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis asiatica) habitat. Photo by Charmaine Delmatier.

Alpine Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis asiatica)

By Charmaine Delmatier (2014)

Alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis asiatica; synonyms: Myosotis alpestris, Myosotis alpestris ssp. asiatica, Myosotis sylvatica var. alpestris) is a native perennial to the north-western states and provinces of the United States and Canada. It was designated the state flower of Alaska in 1949 and thought to represent perseverance; a quality which characterized Alaska’s first pioneers. Usually located in moist mountainous areas on wooded slopes and grassy meadows, it is restricted to elevations in subalpine and alpine environments, between 7,500 to 10,000 feet. As a limiting factor to most high-altitude plants, its growing season is short; generating flowers and setting fruit must occur between June and September.

A weak slender stem supports a terminal cluster of tiny bright blue flowers which are no wider than 6mm. The five flower petals are fused into a narrow tube, which then flatten into a face of five rounded lobes. The deep blue petals are contrasted with a bright-yellow center, which give forget-me-nots their special attractive appearance. The flower spikes often uncurl like a scorpion tail with the youngest flowers blooming on the upper surface towards the terminal end.

The taxonomy and classification of the Borage family (Boraginaceae) is currently under review by the Flora of North America and associated taxonomists, therefore exact numbers and accepted nomenclature for individual plant species and genera are subject to change. For our purposes, we will recognize the genus Myosotis worldwide has a range of 150 to 200 plant species. Flowers range in color from blue to pink to white and are small, no wider than one centimeter. They are usually flat-faced, five-lobed, and grow in a cluster and are revealed as the scorpioid cyme unravels. Leaves are single, simple, and lance shaped, attached alternately up the stem. Their root systems are generally diffuse. As the plant matures, tulip-shaped fruiting structures (pods) develop along the stem, first at the beginning of the coil, then towards the newer terminal end of fresh flowers.

Most species of Myosotis have coarse hairs. The coarseness is due to its cystoliths; a hard-mineral deposit of silicon dioxide and calcium carbonate which occur in the epidermal cells. This feature is responsible for most skin irritations hikers and gardeners obtain when brushing against these seemingly attractive and delicate flowering forbs. However, it is a beneficial adaptation for distribution; the fruiting pods can easily attach themselves to animals or hikers passing by, or even an enthusiastic gardener, and be shaken loose elsewhere to germinate. As there are several seeds contained in each pod, Myosotis can generate new plants and populations quite easily. In some species, as they age, a change in color will occur from red to blue due to an increase in anthocyanins. It is suggested that this is the signal for pollinators to cease because the reservoir of pollen and nectar is depleted.

Unfortunately, as a popular accent in many gardens for their showy deep blue flowers, some forget-me-nots have escaped as a non-native to wetlands and riverbanks. The true forget-me-not, also known as scorpion weed (Myosotis scorpioides), brought to the United States from Europe is becoming a nuisance by its aggressive invasive tendencies. But there is a simple field test to distinguish the aggressive weedy-like scorpion from our high-altitude forget-me-not; the type of hair on its calyx tube. The hairs on alpine forget-me-not are uncinate (with hooks at the tip of each hair) and are spreading, where the hairs on the scorpion weed are appressed and straight.

Used for its therapeutic properties, forget-me-nots can be used as an astringent in poultices for wounds to tighten tissues. Some contain volatile oils which have been claimed to serve as a diaphoretic to induce sweat and act as an antidote for various poisons.

For More Information

  • PLANTS Profile – Myosotis asiatica, alpine forget-me-not
  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Myosotis asiatica

This small blue flower, with a yellow eye, is the charming forget me not flower, and is quite a common wildflower in the Himalayas. Its a small flower, usually only a few millimetres across. Legend has it that in medieval times, a knight and his lady were walking along the side of a river. He picked a posy of flowers, but because of the weight of his armour he fell into the river. As he was drowning he threw the posy to his loved one and shouted “Forget-me-not”. This is a flower connected with romance and tragic fate. It was often worn by ladies as a sign of faithfulness and enduring love. It is a low softly-hairy perennial, with rather short dense clusters, about 1 cm across, of true blue flowers with yellow eyes, at branch-ends. The clusters elongate after flowering. Flowers have rounded spreading petals, and tube longer than the silvery-haired, narrow-triangular sepals. Basal leaves are rather clustered, inverted-lanceshaped 4-8 cm, distinctly or indistinctly stalked, stem leaves are narrower, linear-oblong, stalkless. Stems are upto 20 cm, branched only in the inflorescence. Alpine Forget-Me-Not is found in the Himalayas, from Pakistan to Bhutan, at altitudes of 3000-4300 m. Flowering: June-August.

Forget Me Nots

Forget Me Nots flowers are generally biennials, but there are some varieties that can be perennial.

The varieties that are biennial will generally be easy to maintain over the years as they tend to self-sow, so propagation is not a problem once you establish them in your garden.

These are highly recommended and extremely popular shade flowers, and with good reason.

Among the most popular varieties there is velvet forget-me-not and hairy forget-me-not plants.

There are a great many varieties of Forget Me Nots, and you can find a lot of differently colored flowers.

Some of the popular colors are white, blue or pink, and the centre can be yellow or white, depending on the species.

The plants themselves are very attractive to look at, forming low mounds that can be between six to ten inches tall – of course this varies from species to species. The flowers shoot up above the mounds like little stars.

Soil and Water

Remember that Forget Me Nots are woodland plants and so need the general characteristics of woodland if they are to thrive.

Provide them with rich soil to simulate the rich soil of a forest floor that is continually enriched with falling leaves.

I’ve found that leaf compost really works best for this purpose, but other forms will do as well, just so long as they’re rich in the organic matter these plants favor.

Make sure the soil is moist, but not wet and soggy – remember that these plants are native to forests, not marshes. Mulch is highly beneficial, and indeed absolutely necessary. The best time to apply mulch is in Spring and Fall or Autumn.

Rich organic mulch will protect the roots, hold in moisture, and keep the plant cool.


Forget-me-not is best grown from seed, and the seeds are best planted in the fall – if you plant them at this time, the plants will brighten your garden with their blossoms with the coming of the next Spring.

Generally you should sow the seeds from six to twelve inches apart.

One nice idea is to surround the bulbs in your garden with these seeds – the combination of flowers will be very interesting and attractive – the best flowers to combine these with are daffodils and tulips.

Remember that Forget Me Nots are used to the cool of a forest floor, and that they can die in a hot Summer.

However, you shouldn’t worry if this happens – remember that this is a self sowing species, and will set it’s seeds before the plants die out – they will actually return the same Fall, when temperatures fall to more bearable levels.

Of course if you are an inexperienced gardener, you might try planting these interesting plants as seedlings, which is by far the most reliable method.

Obtain the young Forget- Me -Nots, or buy online and have them shipped to you, and then plant them the recommended distance of between six and twelve inches apart.

As they self-sow, you should have no problems once the plants establish themselves.

The more experienced gardener, on the other hand, may actually choose to prevent these plants from re-seeding, instead growing them year after year.

Care of the Forget me Nots

It is easy to treat some leaf diseases – all you have to do is cut the leaves a bit. I usually cut them just about two inches back.

This isn’t a problem and will not damage the look of the plant – indeed, the leaves grow back very soon, but it is an effective way of dealing with leaf diseases.


Forget Me Nots are biennials for the most part, although there are some that are perennials. Biennials re-seed themselves readily so you will always have these wonderful flowers for shade in your garden.

There blooms are white, pink or blue with either white or yellow centers. The flowers rise above the low mounding foliage 6 to 10 inches tall depending on which species you sow.

These shade lovers thrive in rich well drained soil. Mulch with good compost with organic material, once in Spring and again in the Fall.

Sow your seeds in Fall so that they will bloom for you in the Spring. Plant them about 6 to 12 inches apart. A great idea is to sow your seeds all around your bulbs for Spring, tulips and daffodils especially. They compliment each other nicely. If the Summer is particularly hot they may die back, after setting seed for the fall, when they will return.

There are some diseases of the leaves which can be taken care of by cutting them back to about 2 inches and they will be back in no time at all.

Water Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis scorpioides) are the most common and are easily divided as their stems root as they creep along. Often they will re-bloom later in the year.

Besides tulips and daffodils, astilbes, hostas and cardinal flowers are great companions.
Don’t forget to keep these shade tolerant plants well watered.


Water Forget-me-­not

Myosotis scorpioides

  • Name also: True Forget-me-not
  • Family: Borage Family – Boraginaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Rhizomatous.
  • Height: 15–50 cm. (6–20 in.). Stem ascending–erect, sometimes bristly, with runners, hair flush with surface, base rooting.
  • Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), 6–12 mm (0.24–0.48 in.) wide. Corolla blue, fused, wheel-shaped, 5-lobed, protuberances in throat of tube. Calyx fused, narrowly campanulate (bell-shaped), 5-lobed, lobes equilaterally triangular; hairs flush with calyx; Calyx approx. 5 mm long in fruiting stage. Stamens 5, filaments fused with calyx-tube. Gynoecium fused, single-styled, body longer than calyx. Inflorescence a scorpioid cyme, extending to become racemose; all flowers without subtending bracts. Flower-stalk hairy, after flowering around same length as calyx.
  • Leaves: Basal leaves stalked, stem leaves alternate, short-stalked–stalkless, stalk winged. Basal leaves usually withered by flowering time. Blade lanceolate–obovate, sometimes almost linear, with entire margin, both sides with hair flush with surface.
  • Fruit: 4-parted schizocarp. Mericarps egg-shaped, glossy, brown, approx. 1.8 mm long.
  • Habitat: Shores, springs, ditches, damp meadows, rich swamps. Sometimes an ornamental.
  • Flowering time: June–August.

The forget-me-nots’ generic name Myosotis is Ancient Greek and means mouse-ear, which the small, hairy, round-tipped leaves undoubtedly in some fashion resemble. Water forget-me-not’s species name scorpioides on the other hand means scorpion-like, and is a reference to its inflorescence, which resembles the form of a scorpion’s tail.

Water forget-me-not is very diverse, and the species has been a difficult nut to crack for botanists. In Finland it has been divided into three variations: var. scorpioides, which grows in all of Finland except northernmost Lapland, var. praecox, which grows on coastal meadows by the Sea of Åland and the Gulf of Finland, and sometimes a third variation (var. laxiflora), whose habitat is not so well known. The variations differ from each other with respect to the hairiness of the stem and the size of the calyx lobes, corolla and carpel. Water forget-me-not is big for its species and therefore quite easy to identify. It looks very much the same as M. nemorosa, a rare plant whose hairs at the base of the stem and on the lower leaves grow downwards. Both are shore plants that favour continually damp soil. M. nemorosa is a rarity on shore-side meadows and flood-influenced forests in eastern Lapland; water forget-me-not’s gentle blue flowers are on the other hand common beside streams and ditches, even in dense cane-grass.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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Forget-me-nots are cute biennial or perennial flowers depending on the variety and on the climate.

Forget-me-not facts not to forget

Name – Myosotis
Family – Boraginaceae
Type – biennial or perennial

Height – 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – rather rich and cool

Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – March to May

Often used to spruce up rocky ground, edges and flower beds, it is a plant that is self-sowing and sometimes turns invasive.

Planting forget-me-not

For them to bloom in spring, it is recommended to plant perennial forget-me-nots (Myosotis salvatica for example) in fall.

Use a blend of garden soil, soil mix and if possible organic soil conditioner.

It is perfectly possible to plant during springtime and that’s even required for annual and biennial varieties.

As for the sowing, opt for sowing directly in the plot starting from the month of May and over the entire summer season.

  • Forget-me-not loves sun-covered spots as long as they don’t get too hot.
  • The ground must stay cool, drain well and must be enriched on or before planting.
  • In waterlogged, poorly draining soil, forget-me-nots might not survive the winter.

Pruning and caring for forget-me-not

Remove wilted flowers regularly. This is called deadheading. Since flowers last a few days, deadheading your forget-me-not twice a week is perfect.

Once all the flowers and leaves have wilted away, it’s possible to remove airborne portions of the plant that tend to look ungainly. This will prepare space for newer, fresher flower scapes.

Watering forget-me-not

  • In spring, you can water if it doesn’t rain for a long time.
  • Provide for regular watering for plants growing potted or in garden boxes.
  • Over the summer, water often during the warmer weeks.

Learn more about Myosotis

This cute little perennial bears nice blue bunches of flowers.

It will find a place in your flower beds, along edges or on rocky terrain.

Forget-me-not can also be included in pot arrangements and garden boxes to flower any balcony and terrace.

Care is effortless and its growth is quick. Forget-me-nots bloom abundantly all spring long.

Let a few flowers go to seed and the patch will keep growing every year!

Smart tip about forget-me-not

No need to water too much because forget-me-nots don’t really need a lot of water.

Forget-me-not remembered on social media

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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Forget-me-not flower cluster by Jacob W. Frank (also on social media) by Denali National Park and Preserve ★ under © CC BY 2.0
Blue, pink and white Forget-me-not by Jochen Spieker ☆ under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Forget-me-not flowers, some spent by Shanthanu Bhardwaj ☆ under © CC BY-SA 2.0


Common Name



  • Sun
  • Shade
  • Groundcover
  • Rockery

Flowering Season

Summer, Spring


This genus of around 100 species of annuals, biennials, and perennials of the borage (Boraginaceae) family, is found almost worldwide. They are found in a range of habitats, and are particularly fond of waterside locations and areas with damp soil. Their natural affinity with damp soils means that they are well suited to planting around pond edges and woodland gardens. They also make excellent subjects for rockeries and groundcovers. The common name of forget-me-not has various supposed origins, including the German legend of a lover who, while gathering the flowers, fell into a river and cried ‘forget-me-not’ as he drowned.


Most forget-me-nots are small tufted plants with simple, blunt, lance-shaped leaves that are sometimes greyish and often covered in fine hairs. Their 5-petalled flowers are tiny but quite showy as they are usually borne in sprays on short branching stems. Most bloom in spring and early summer, and the flowers are usually white, cream, pink, or various shades of blue and mauve.


These plants are very easily grown in any position, be it in a sunny or shady position, as long as it remains moist during summer. Alpine species benefit from a gritty free-draining soil but the others aren’t fussy. Some species can become invasive. The perennials may be propagated from seed or by careful division in late winter. Raise the annuals from seed sown in spring.

Gardening Australia suggests you check with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of any plants for your particular area.

© Global Book Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd from Flora’s Gardening Cards


Forget-me-nots have sky blue flowers, which combine well with the colors of many spring bulbs and wildflowers.
Joey Williamson, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

A few years ago a friend, who was a native Alaskan, gave us a seed packet of alpine forget-me-nots (Myosotis alpestris) that she purchased on a visit back to her home state. We really didn’t think that a plant that flourishes in such a northerly region of the US would tolerate the heat and drought of South Carolina. However, we were pleasantly surprised!

Forget-me-nots are members of the borage family (Boraginaceae), whose members predominately have true blue flowers, such as Virginia bluebells. These beautiful, low growing biennials will self-seed in the garden, but they are not considered invasive. Seed are planted in spring or late summer for an eye-catching bloom the following spring (late March through mid-April). They combine well with spring blooming bulbs, such as yellow jonquils and daffodils.

Alpine forget-me-nots grow and flower from 5- to 8-inches tall, with clumps from 8- to 10- inches in diameter. The sky blue flowers are 1/4- to 1/3-inch in diameter, each with a yellow or white eye.

Myosotis alpestris is the state flower of Alaska, where it has naturalized in alpine and subalpine meadows in full sun. Here in South Carolina, the forget-me-nots will perform best if given morning sun and afternoon shade to reduce the exposure to late day heat. They do prefer somewhat moist and well-drained soil that has a pH of 6.1 to 7.5, which likely duplicates the meadow soils on the slopes of Alaska.

Forget-me-nots are biennials and self-seeders, so clumps will slowly spread in the garden. Joey Williamson, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Because of their short height, they are best placed in the front of flowerbeds and borders. Forget-me-nots are wonderful additions to part-shade woodland gardens and flower the same time as foamflowers (Tiarella species) and bleeding hearts (Dicentra species). Although they self-propagate by seed, new plants form relatively close to the original plants. Deer and rabbits do not feed on forget-me-nots. Not many annual or perennials have true blue flowers, so forget-me-nots make a nice addition to a mixed border garden.

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