What are Forget-Me-Not Flowers?

Myosotis, popularly known as forget-me-nots or scorpion grasses, is a genus of flowering plants in the Boraginaceae family. The common name forget-me-not was first used in English by King Henry IV of England in 1398, and it was derived from the German Vergissmeinnicht. Myosotis species can be found in temperate regions of both the northern and southern hemispheres. According to genetic evidence, the genus originated in the northern hemisphere. With roughly 60 recognized species in western Eurasia and approximately 40 confirmed species in New Zealand, the genus has two centres of species distribution.

Forget-Me-Not Flowers
Forget-Me-Not Flowers

Forget-me-not flower is a simple but beautiful spring flower that blooms in frothy blue clouds at the front of borders and along sidewalks. The five-petaled flowers have a diameter of 1 cm or less, flat-faced, and are commonly blue, pink, yellow, or white in colour with yellow centres. The beautiful blooms erupt from May through October in long, hairy stems that can grow up to 2 feet in length. Forget-me-not plants are commonly found near riverbanks, brooks, streams, and other sources of water because they enjoy humid and moist growing environments.

Growing and Caring for Forget-me-nots

Some people wish to grow forget-me-nots from seed. To grow them from seed you can sow forget-me-not seeds straight outside in May or June, or indoors in May, June, and September. Scatter seeds and layer with compost if sowing under a cover. Grow forget-me-nots in moist, well-drained soil in a sunny or shady position. Make sure the circumstances for germination are ideal; you can use a heated propagator if necessary. Prick out and pot on seedlings once they are large enough to handle. The following year, flowers will bloom. Planting forget-me-nots with other shade-loving plants can create a lovely arrangement.

Forget-Me-Not Flowers
Forget-Me-Not Flowers

As with most native wildflowers, the forget-me-not flower is very low-maintenance. Forget-me-nots thrive in shaded, wet environments such as fields, meadows, woodlands, and coastal forests, where they spread like wildfire. This is because forget-me-not flower self-seeds easily, allowing more of the wildflower to grow and bloom in shaded areas where the small seeds may fall.

While the forget-me-not flower is lovely in many arrangements, the free-seeding plant can be invasive and take over places where other plants are intended. This seemingly harmless little plant can outcompete other plants in your garden and pose a threat to native plants beyond your garden. Because of this, forget-me-not is on the invasive plant list in several states. In fact, it is regarded as a harmful weed in the Midwest United States.

Forget-Me-Not Flowers
Forget-Me-Not Flowers

Controlling forget-me-not plants once they have escaped their borders can be difficult. To care for forget-me-not flowers will almost certainly mean removing these plants from undesirable locations. So if you do not want the plants to spread too far, make sure to pull them up before they set seed. Forget-me-nots can be pulled easily, or you can hoe or plough the soil to get rid of them. This is a great approach to keep little groups of forget-me-nots under control. If you do not remove all of the roots, the plants will quickly resprout. The seeds are housed in little, tulip-shaped pods along the stalk of the flower. When brushed against, the pods can gradually fall off and stick to clothing, leaving the little seed within to germinate elsewhere. To harvest the seeds, place a sheet of paper under the stems and shake the seed pods onto the paper.

Forget-me-not Varieties

There is a broad range of Myosotis species, but the one that most people is familiar with is Myosotis sylvatica or woodland forget-me-not. The classic forget-me-not is a biennial that grows in clumps and blooms in late spring with the classic blue flowers. While Myosotis sylvatica is non-toxic and safe to keep in the yard with little children, some forget-me-not variety can be poisonous or mildly toxic.

Forget-Me-Not Flowers
Forget-Me-Not Flowers

Another variety is the Myosotis scorpioides or water forget-me-not. They are an important perennial for wildlife ponds, especially along the borders and in shallow water. Tadpoles and newts lay their eggs in the leaves, which provide a safe haven for aquatic larvae like tadpoles. Plants should be pruned after flowering and clusters should be divided every few years.

Other varieties include Myosotis arvensis, Myositis ‘Blue Ball’, Myositis alpine, Myositis stricta, among others. The field forget-me-not, Myosotis arvensis, is an annual forget-me-not with blue and pink spring flowers that can last into autumn. The rosettes of leaves can sometimes survive the winter. Myosotis ‘Blue Ball’ is a cultivar that grows up to 15cm tall in compact mounds, with the typical blue flowers blooming in the spring and early summer. Myosotis alpestris, often known as alpine forget-me-not, is the county flower of Westmorland, England, and the state flower of Alaska, USA.

Forget-me-not Meanings and Significance

Forget-me-nots represent remembrance and many aspects of remembering in plant iconography. Because the symbolism of the forget-me-not is centred on memory, it can be very dear for individuals dealing with family members who have Alzheimer’s disease. It is used as an icon by the Alzheimer’s Society to promote awareness of the condition and provide assistance to caregivers.

Alzheimer's Society
Alzheimer’s Society

Forget-me-not can also mean sincere and everlasting love, remembrance during farewell, a bond that endures the passage of time, happy memories, commitment, and loyalty in a relationship. It also symbolizes the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, which began in 1915.

Because the most common name for this flower was coined by the Germans, there is a legend about two lovers who first saw the beautiful blue blossoms while wandering along the Danube River. The man picked the flowers for the woman, but he was carried away by the river, telling her not to forget him as he floated away.

Although unproven, some claims that forget-me-not has health benefits, while others make the flowers into tea. Forget Me Not Flower Tea is a caffeine-free beverage with a subtle, grassy flavour. The forget-me-not tea is noted for its vibrant purple blossoms, and its ability to lower blood pressure, calm nerves, improve skin health and promote peaceful sleep.

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