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.
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.