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How to care for your forget-me-nots so they don’t take over your garden

If you’re looking for a dainty, lovely flower to use as a ground cover in your garden, you can’t go wrong with forget-me-nots. Prolific as they are petite, they make the perfect additions to cottage or woodland-style landscape designs. Forget-me-nots aren’t difficult to grow — in fact, they may grow too well, if anything. To learn how to care for these delicate blooms and keep their growth in check, keep reading.

Forget-me-nots in a cup

What are forget-me-nots?

Consisting of about 50 different flowers in the Myosotis genus, forget-me-nots are hardy in zones 5 through 10. They can be white or pink, but they are most commonly blue with yellow centers and five petals. When mature, they stay relatively small at around 5 inches tall. Attractive to butterflies and bees, they’re fast-spreading plants, growing in clusters that can quickly take over as they self-seed and bloom for months.

Brunnera siberian bugloss flowers

How do you plant forget-me-nots?

Starting forget-me-nots is easy, and you can plant them in your garden or grow them in a container. About 10 weeks before the last frost, you can start your flowers indoors. Alternatively, you can also wait until the last frost has passed to sow them directly outside. The advantage of growing forget-me-nots in containers is that you limit their fast spread. If you place your forget-me-nots in planters, choose a plastic pot for optimal water retention.

In either case, sprinkle two to three seeds per inch of soil. Once the last frost has passed, you can harden your forget-me-nots and bring them out into the garden.

Ladybug on forget-me-not

How do you care for forget-me-nots?

Forget-me-nots are easy to grow, but they won’t coast by on total neglect. Here are a few tips on forget-me-not care for lovely blooms throughout the growing season.

  • Light: These cheerful flowers generally do well with partial afternoon shade. However, if you live in a northern region, your forget-me-nots may do well in full sun. When you grow them in containers indoors, keep your forget-me-nots in bright light next to a southern or eastern window. Remember, the more light your forget-me-nots receive, the more water they’ll appreciate.
  • Water: When they’re not used for garden landscapes, forget-me-nots grow next to marshes and riverbanks, so they do well with consistent watering in homes and gardens. They like well-draining but moist soil and tolerate wet feet. During the growing season, water your forget-me-nots when the top 3 inches of soil feel dry to the touch — this may be as much as three to four times per week at the height of the growing season. That said, you probably only need to water your flowers once or twice a month during the winter.
  • Temperature: Forget-me-nots can do well in both cold and hot conditions. However, their sweet spot is in the 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit range, so providing them shade in the summer months is ideal.
  • Fertilizer: These dainty blooms don’t require nutrient-rich soil to do well. In fact, you only need to feed them twice throughout the growing season. If your foliage looks yellow or wilted, you can increase your fertilizing cadence to once a month, using a 5-10-10 fertilizer to boost your flowers.
Forget-me-not flowers

What should you do with forget-me-nots after flowering?

Do forget-me-nots come back every year?

Forget-me-nots are quick growers and are even considered invasive in some areas. You won’t forget forget-me-nots: They come back every year if you live somewhere where they’re perennial, which is typically zones 5 through 11. Note that hardiness may, of course, depend on the flower variety and where you live. Usually, however, they’re biennials, displaying most growth during their second year after planting. Even annual varieties can come back after the winter because forget-me-nots self-seed and can grow again in the spring. If you have forget-me-nots setting seeds in your garden, it’s unnecessary to plant them again the following year.

Do you cut back forget-me-nots?

After your forget-me-nots bloom, clean them up by pinching back spent flowers. To control forget-me-not growth, you can pull them up or deadhead them before they self-seed to keep them from spreading. You can also cut them down to the ground to clean them up if you have a perennial variety — get lovely cut flowers while tidying up around your garden!

Forget-me-nots are some of the easiest flowers to grow, which makes them ideal for bloom novices. The caveat is that you’ll want to water them consistently during the hotter months and make sure to prune them back if they start to spread profusely. With a careful eye on these two factors and other planting conditions, you’ll be able to appreciate lovely blooms every growing season.

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