Potted forget me not

May 2002

Forget-me-not as a Potted Plant
By Meriam Karlsson

During the Victorian period, flowers were associated withemotions, strengths or moral qualities. Several legends in the naming of theflower forget-me-not suggest everlasting friendship, remembrance and eternallove. These correlations are still strong, and forget-me-not is often requestedto acknowledge, celebrate or commemorate romance, appreciation orcompanionship. Forget-me-not is also the state flower of Alaska and, therefore,generates additional local demand from many visiting tourists, hotels, restaurantsand public establishments.

Forget-me-not is a familiar plant to gardeners and has beengrown for years in borders or groundcovers. The flowers are less than one inchin diameter and open in succession on a curled spike or cyme inflorescence. Aseach flower withers, a seedpod is left behind. The curled flower spikesresemble the shape of a scorpion and sometimes the common name “scorpiongrass” is used instead of forget-me-not. The delicate flowers are usuallyblue with a lighter eye. Flowers in white or soft pink occur naturally and arealso available.

The scientific genus name of forget-me-not is Myosotisbecause the leaves in some species look a lot like the ears of a mouse. TheMyosotis species are biennial or perennial and grow naturally in moist, shadedor partly shaded areas. True forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides) is ashort-lived perennial, while the most commonly cultivated species is thebiennial garden or woodland forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica). The gardenforget-me-not has leaves that are 2-3 inches in length and grows to a height of6-12 inches. Myosotis alpestris is similar to M. sylvatica, and it is difficultto distinguish the two species. Seeds of forget-me-not are sold under bothnames, although most M. alpestris is likely M. sylvatica.

Forget-me-not as a cut flower is best-suited for smallfloral pieces, miniature nosegays, corsages or chaplets for the hair. Othermarketing opportunities include flowering potted plants. Seed is available forvarious cultivars such as ‘Snowsylva’ (white),’Rosylva’ (pink), ‘Bluesylva’ (mid-blue), Bobo series(blue), ‘Compindi’ (deep blue), ‘Indigo’ (blue),’Miro’ (mid-blue), ‘Musik’ (deep blue) and’Victoria’ (azure blue). Bluesylva and Victoria have, under ourgrowing conditions, been naturally compact with profuse flowering. The Boboseries and Indigo have longer-flowering shoots than Bluesylva but still makenice plants in 4-inch containers. Compindi and Miro are short, ball-shapedplants with heights of six inches, while Musik grows to a height of 10 inches.Snowsylva and Rosylva are suitable to meet the demand for white and pinkforget-me-nots.

Propagation and early development

Germination takes 8-14 days at 68-72° F. Information onlight requirements for germination varies in the literature; we have hadexcellent germination of uncovered seed under approximately 500 foot-candles(fc) for 16 hours each day. A cold treatment or vernalization significantlypromotes or is unconditionally required for flowering in biennials and manyperennials. Most herbaceous perennials sense vernalization at temperaturesbetween 32 and 45° F. For low temperatures to be effective, plants need toremain active; therefore, low light is required during vernalization. Asuggested level is 25-50 fc. The minimum required period of vernalizationvaries from a few days to several weeks and depends on species, cultivar andphysiological age of the plant.

Cold treatment

Seeds of several cultivars (Bobo series, Indigo andVictoria) were germinated, and seedlings Á were grown at 68° F,approximately 500 fc (100 µmol m-2s-1) for 16 hours and fertilized fromthe first true leaf stage with 100 ppm nitrogen from a complete fertilizercontaining micronutrients. The plants were transplanted into 4-inch pots filledwith a peat-lite medium. Six weeks after seeding, the temperature was droppedto 42° F. Irradiance was 100-125 fc (20-30 µmol m-2s-1) for 16 hours daily.To determine the vernalization requirement, plants were moved from 42° Fafter three, six, nine or 12 weeks. Recommended environmental conditionsfollowing the cold treatment are similar to those of pansy production. Plantswere, therefore, moved to 60° F, 16 hour day length and 750-800 fc (8.6 molday-1m-2). Increasing the fertilizer rate following the cold treatment to150-200 ppm nitrogen is expected to be beneficial.

Time to flower and growth habit following the cold treatmentvaried both within and among cultivars. General trends were, however, similar,and flowers appeared faster after a longer cold period (see Figure 1, right).Increasing the cold from 3-6 weeks reduced time to flower by approximately twoweeks. Another three weeks of chilling reduced flowering time by seven moredays, and 12 weeks of chilling, yet another seven days. On average, 21 dayswere required at 60° F for the first flowers to appear after 12 weeks ofcold, and 49 days with three weeks of cold. These results suggest plants can bekept at cold temperatures for long periods and forced for special occasions andmarkets. Plants grown at 60° F without any chilling did not flower withinthe seven months of the study.

Light during cold treatment

Recent studies with herbaceous perennials suggest a coldtreatment at higher irradiance will more efficiently induce flowers in somespecies than the recommended 100-150 fc. Plants were grown at 42° F and 100fc (one mol day-1m-2) or 900 fc (10 mol day-1m-2) during a 16-hour day. As acomparison, plants were also grown at 60° F and 100 or 900 fc. After sixweeks, all plants were grown at 60° F and 900 fc until flowering.Snowsylva, Rosylva and Bluesylva were included in this experiment.

Increasing the irradiance during the 42° F phase from100 to 900 fc did not result in faster or more efficient flowering. Earliestflowering at 60° F was observed for Snowsylva after 15 days following thesix weeks at 42° F and 100 fc. Bluesylva and Rosylva required 3-4 more daysto first open flower. For plants exposed to the higher irradiance during coldtreatment, flowering was delayed 8-10 days in all three cultivars. With theexception of limited sporadic flowering, plants kept at 60° F and 100 or900 fc did not flower.

The number of shoots and flowers was higher at 100 fc ratherthan 900 fc during the cold treatment. Bluesylva and Snowsylva producedapproximately 30 and Rosylva 20 flowering branches per plant using the 100 fcand 42° F environment. In contrast, the branch number decreased to 18 forBluesylva and 12 for Snowsylva and Rosylva when 42° F was combined with 900fc. The flower cymes and stems, however, were sturdier, and the plants morecompact with higher irradiance during the low temperature exposure. Keepingquality and duration of flowering may, therefore, vary depending on conditionsduring the cold treatment.

Plant management

Pinching the top growing point to release apical dominanceinduces branching and more flowering shoots. Since the effect of pinchingvaries from one plant species to another, experiments are required to determineproper timing, procedure and scheduling. Forget-me-not Compindi and Musik werepinched either immediately prior to or at the end of the 6-week exposure to42° F. Time to flower and number of flowering shoots were recorded at longdays and 60° F following the cold treatment.

The number of branches per plant increased to between eightand 12 with either a pinch prior to or at the end of the cold treatment.Without a pinch, plants produced, on average, 3-4 flowering branches. Pinchingplants at the beginning or end of the 42° F exposure generally resulted infaster flowering compared to intact plants. The faster flowering wasunexpected, as pinching is known to slow overall rate of growth and floweringin most other plant species.

Conclusion

Initial studies on the opportunity to produce forget-me-notas a flowering potted plant are promising. For best plant development andflowering, day length, temperature and light condition following the coldtreatment still need to be evaluated. Consumer acceptance of locally producedflowering potted forget-me-not has been overwhelming. The demand for specialoccasions and the scarce availability suggest consumers are willing to pay apremium price for flowering potted forget-me-not.

Meriam Karlsson

Meriam Karlsson is professor of horticulture at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She may be reached via phone at (907) 474-7005 or E-mail at

Potted Forget-Me-Not Care: Growing Forget-Me-Not Plants In Containers

Growing forget-me-not in a pot is not the typical use for this pretty little perennial, but it is an option that adds some visual interest to your container garden. Use containers if you have limited space or if you want to grow forget-me-nots indoors.

Container Grown Forget-Me-Nots

Forget-me-not plants in containers is not how most gardeners use this perennial flower. It is more typically used in perennial beds, as a border, or to fill in space around other plants. It self-seeds and spreads without being weedy, so it is a great choice for an area that needs filling, especially a shady area.

Container grown forget-me-nots can do just as well as those in beds and borders, and there are several reasons to go with a pot instead of a bed. If your garden space is limited, for instance, you may want to add containers with flowers. Containers with forget-me-nots and other flowers are great for sprucing up a patio or screened porch. And, of course, you can always grow these flowers in pots to enjoy them indoors.

How to Grow Forget-Me-Nots in a Container

Potted forget-me-not care is important because these native perennials are adapted to growing outside in certain conditions. You’ll have to recreate those conditions in a container and take care in choosing a location for it.

First, choose a pot that has drainage holes. Your forget-me-nots will need moist soil, but not soggy soil. Don’t cram them into the container either. They need space or the plants could develop mildew. With light, basic potting soil and good drainage, find a spot for your plant that will be adequately warm. Forget-me-nots do well in shade, but full sun is fine.

Water your potted forget-me-nots often enough that the soil stays moist but not soggy, slightly less during the winter. Pinch off dead flowers after they are spent to encourage new blooms. Fertilizer should not be necessary unless your plant isn’t growing well or you see some yellow foliage.

If you find the right spot for your forget-me-not in a pot, and give it just a little bit of care, it should thrive year after year. Alternatively, you can keep the pot blooming all summer by replacing the forget-me-not when it is done blooming with a summer annual.

How to grow forget-me-not

Forget-me-not, or Myosotis, is a humble but glorious spring flower, which appears in frothy blue clouds at the front of borders and at the edges of paths. It complements other spring flowers, making a great backdrop for taller tulips or wallflowers, and naturalises easily for wilder-style plantings. It can also look great in a window box or container.

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Browse our handy guide tor growing forget-me-not, below.

Where to plant forget-me-not

Forget-me-not growing with hosta

Grow forget-me-not in moist, but well-drained soil in a sunny or shady spot. Planting forget-me-not alongside other shade-loving plants, such as hosta, pictured, can make for an attractive display.

Growing forget-me-not from seed

Planting forget-me-not

Sow forget-me-not seeds directly outdoors in May or June, or indoors in May, June and September. If sowing under cover, sprinkle seeds and cover with compost. Use a heated propagator or a warm windowsill to create the right conditions for germination. Once seedlings are large enough to handle, prick out and pot on. Flowers will appear the following year.

Propagating forget-me-not

Forget-me-not will self-seed easily. Either allow them to spread naturally or lift new seedlings and replant where you choose.

Myosotis: problem solving

There are no pests that target myosotis, but foliage can be prone to powdery mildew or downy mildew after flowering.

Care and maintenance

Most myosotis varieties are biennial, meaning they self-seed freely. Pull up the plants before they set seed if you don’t want them to spread too profusely.

Myosotis varieties to try

Water forget-me-not Advertisement

  • Myosotis scorpioides – the water forget-me-not is an essential perennial for wildlife ponds, either for the edges or in shallow water. It provides shelter for aquatic larvae such as tadpoles, and newts lay eggs in the leaves. Cut back plants after flowering and divide clumps every few years
  • Myosotis sylvatica – the classic forget-me-not is a biennial that grows in clumps with the classic blue flowers appearing in late spring. A biennial, Myosotis sylvatica, will self-seed freely, and produce flowers reliably most years
  • Myosotis arvensis – the field forget-me-knot is an annual forget-me-not, with blue and sometimes pink spring flowers that sometimes continue until autumn. The rosettes of leaves will sometimes overwinter successfully
  • Myosotis ‘Blue Ball’ – this cultivar grows in neat, compact mounds, to a height of 15cm, with the characteristic blue flowers appearing in spring and early summer
  • Myosotis ‘Bluesylva’ – a low, spreading biennial cultivar, the blue flowers have a yellow eye that fades to white
  • Myosotis alpestris ‘Victoria’ – with soft pink, blue and white flowers, this has a long flowering period

Can I plant Forget-me-not indoor in June-Junly?

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Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica) make excellent indoor container plants, requiring little care to maintain their gray-green foliage and clusters of tiny, light-blue flowers that appear throughout spring and early summer. The plants perform best in moist but well-drained soil. So a light, standard potting mix works well. Because Forget-Me-Not require plenty of air circulation, grow each plant individually in its own 12-inch/-30 cm-diameter container with bottom drainage holes. The plants are pest-resistant and even grow in nutrient-poor soil. So fertilizing them isn’t necessary. Forget-Me-Not is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8.

Growing Conditions and General Care

Place Forget-Me-Not in a south or east-facing window, where they receive full or partial sunlight.

Water the soil deeply when its top 3 inches (7.5 cm) feels dry to your touch, watering until the water drips through the bottom of the pots. Don’t allow the plants to stand in water. Reduce watering to about once or twice each month in winter, while the plants are dormant. Resume normal watering in spring.

Remove the plants’ spent, or old, flowers, at their stems, pinching them off with your fingernails. Throw away the removed flowers. Removing spent flowers encourages new blooms to form.

Photo via 99roots.com

Fertilize the Forget-Me-Not once each month only if their leaves appear wilted or yellow or the plants grow very slowly during spring or summer. Mix 1 teaspoon of 5-10-10, water-soluble fertilizer with 1 gallon of water, and use the mixture to fertilize the plants in place of one watering session, applying only the amount you normally would use to water the plants. Don’t fertilize during winter while the plants are dormant.

Trim off all dead foliage and dead stems throughout the growing season as well as during winter after the plants die back. Use pruning shears or scissors for the task.

Propagation

If starting off Forget-Me-Not and other Myosotis plants indoors then start about 2 months in advance. The seeds of Forget-Me-Not should be sown in vermiculite. It will take from one to four weeks to germinate at 64 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 20 degrees Celsius) in the dark. It is necessary to water the Forget-Me-Nots from below to stop them rotting. Once seedlings are ready transplant into the garden and grow about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) apart.

Pests and Diseases

Insects and disease are not too common. If problems arise, treat early with insecticides or fungicides as appropriate.

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Forget-Me-Not

A bed of spring bulbs — such as tulips or daffodils — underplanted with forget-me-nots is a sight to behold. Biennials native to cool, moist areas of Europe and northern Asia, they are usually grown as annuals.

Description of forget-me-not: Forget-me-nots are small plants seldom reaching more than 12 inches in height and an equal diameter. The tiny flowers are clustered together in racemes at the top of plants.

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Growing forget-me-not: Forget-me-nots relish cool, moist weather with sun or partial shade. In Zones 8, 9, and 10, seeds can be sown in the fall where plants will bloom in the spring. When planting in the spring, plant as soon as the soil can be worked. When plants have finished blooming, replace them with summer annuals. Forget-me-nots will reseed, but seedlings in colder climates will not bloom until late spring or summer.

Propagating forget-me-not: By seed. For early bloom in cold climates, seed indoors in January, planting seedlings outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked. Seeds germinate in 8 to 14 days at 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to cover seeds; they need darkness to germinate. When removing plants that have bloomed, shake the ripened seeds onto the ground where you want blooming plants the next spring.

Uses for forget-me-not: Plant forget-me-nots in masses for best results. They’re suited for rock gardens, as an edging, or in the front of a border. Try them in window boxes and patio planters with spring bulbs. Grow forget-me-nots in meadows, along stream banks, or by ponds.

Forget-me-not related varieties: Indigo Compacta is a darker-colored selection that stays smaller than most varieties. Blue Ball is a compact form with bright blue flowers. White Ball is similar in form but has white blooms, Victoria Mixed combines blue-, white-, rose-, and pink-flowered forms.

Scientific name of forget-me-not: Myosotis sylvatica

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