If one flower was every unforgettable, it’s the purple forget me not. This flower is famous for the delicate flowers with yellowing coloring on the throat. When you grow them under the correct conditions, you’ll get prolific bloomers that flower from spring until well into the summer months. In addition to the rich blue and purple hues these flowers introduce to your garden, they’re very rich in symbolism and history.
Purple Forget Me Not’s Rich History
The purple forget me not has a fun origin story behind the name. According to lore, there was a knight who was walking with his lady beside a river one night. He was holding a bouquet of flowers in his hand as a gift to his lady. However, because he was wearing heavy armor, he fell into the river. As he fell, he threw the bouquet at his lady and shouted “forget me not!”
If you look at the religious legend from Christianity, the purple forget me nots were originally created by Jesus Christ when he was a child to ensure that all future generations could see him and his mother Mary as he was sitting on her lap.
Forget me nots are very popular flowers that work well to fill in borders or gardens to help attract pollinators to the area. Forget-Me-Not by John Munt / CC BY-NC 2.0
Easy Growing Tips And General Care
Currently, you can choose from 74 species when it comes to this flower, and you can find them growing all over the world. A lot of the purple forget me nots are popular garden plants because they introduce splashes of color to the landscape. A lot of these flowers range from pale to bright blue, but some have pink, white, or purple flowers. Some even mix blue and pink in the same plant when they bloom.
These plants are usually biennials, and it will take them two years from when you plant them to complete their growing and flowing cycle. They start producing seeds in the second year. They die back when the winter frost comes along in some planting zones, and they resprout when the spring weather comes along. Once you have purple forget me nots in your garden, you won’t have to reseed them.
Certain varieties of this plant like Myosotis scorpioides are hardy in zones five through nine, and Myosotis alpestris is hardy in zones three to nine. The striking purple forget me nots are an excellent addition to garden beds and borders. These smaller plants love to be in partial shade, but they can tolerate full sun in cooler areas. During the hotter summer months, they have to have a bit of shade in the afternoon heat.
So, this makes them great bedding plants were much taller plants can cast shadows on them and shade them. Since they are originally a forest plant they like organic, rich soil that is moist but not soggy. The best time to plant them is in the early spring months if you hope to see pretty purple flowers the following year. If you pick a good spot for them, you’ll get flowers starting in May and going to October.
One thing to keep in mind with purple forget me nots is that they can easily take over your garden if you don’t manage them correctly. A lot of gardeners allow this flower to sow themselves to keep the patch growing year in and year out, all of this seed can mean that you find yourself pulling purple forget me nots out of areas where you don’t want them growing.
This plant is a classic option for your garden, and they won’t be overshadowed by showy and big blooms like roses. Even though they’re smaller, they can have a big presence in your garden.
Symbolism of Purple Forget Me Not Flowers
These humble flowers come with a very rich history to them when it comes to symbolism and meaning. You may hear this flower referred to as the lasting symbol of remembrance, and it has played a huge role in Europe and America in the past few decades. There are several common meanings behind purple forget me not flowers, including:
- Ever-lasting connection
- Fidelity and loyalty in the relationship
- Profound affection between two people
- Remembrance and memories between two people
- Undying and true love
These plants make very pretty bouquets, and they go wonderfully with a huge range of blooms to help fill in bouquets. Forget-me-nots by Dave Gunn / CC BY-NC 2.0
10 Types of Purple Forget-Me-Nots
Even though there are many varieties of forget me nots found around the world, most of them come from Asia and Europe. Each variety offers special features, color, characteristics, and sizes that set them apart. Below, we’ve picked out 10 popular and pretty purple forget me not flowers to consider adding to your garden.
1. Alpine Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis alpestris)
Better known as Scorpion Grass, this purple forget me not is part of the Boraginaceae family. You’ll usually find it growing throughout Britain in damp woodlands, meadows, or in basic rock formations. The Alpine Forget Me Not is a very short-lived biennial, or it can be a very hardy biennial that will produce leaves that form a pretty lance shape with stunning bluish-purple tinged flowers. They also come with contrasting bright yellow centers. The flowering period for this plant starts in the early spring months and goes throughout the summer to fall.
One interesting fact about this purple forget me not is that the flower is actually Alaska’s state flower, and it’s the country flower of Westmorland. It grows best when you plant it under full or partial sunlight, and it’ll get roughly eight inches tall to a foot tall at full maturity. Ideally, it’ll be in a place that offers well-draining soil that is either loamy, clay, or sandy.
2. Broadleaf Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis latifolia)
This purple forget me not plant is a native to the northwestern portion of Africa, but it’s also been introduced successfully to the United States on the west coast. In the United States, this plant is very popular along the Pacific coastline in central and north California. It falls into the Myosotis genus, and this comes under the Boraginaceae family.
The broadleaf version of this plant will usually produce leaves that have a nice oval shape, and they are one of the largest sizes at the woody base on the plant’s stem. This plant will grow very easily in several habitat types, including moist soils, distrubed areas, and in shaded forest gardens.
The flowers you’ll get on this purple forget me not are tubular in shape, and it’s common for them to have pink coloring mixed with the purple, and they can get up to a centimeter wide. The stems offer a woody base with a layer of white, rough hairs. This plant’s inflorescence initially looks like an elongated cluster that is very compact when they first sprout, but it gradually opens up and gets looser as the growing season goes on.
3. Changing Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis discolor)
This variety of purple forget me not is native to Europe, but it’s now been introduced to eastern and western parts of the United States. It grows in a large range of habitats, but it loves distrubed areas like along roads. This is an annual or perennial growing herb that will get between 10 and 50 centimeters high at full maturity.
You’ll typically get slender and tall erect growing systems that can be branched once in a while. It gives you leaves that can come in a range of shapes, including lance and oblong-shaped. The leaves are usually four centimeters long and a centimeter wide. You’ll usually get a coating of small, soft, and straight hairs on them.
The flowers this purple forget me not produce are a very stunning cream or yellow initially, and they’ll fade to a pretty pink shade before turning to a purplish-blue. This is why many people call it the changing forget me not flower since it’s changing colors constantly until it matures. The flowers also get arranged in a series of tiny curved or coiled spots at the top of the stem.
4. Early Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis ramosissima)
This is a medium-sized but slender purple forget me not. It’s a slightly hairy plant that will get between two and five centimeters tall as it grows. It is best planted in open and dry habitats, and the flowering period begins in early April and goes until June. It is believed to originally have started in Britain, especially in the more extreme north region.
As with other types of purple forget me not flowers, this one also belongs to the Boraginaceae family, and it’s technically classified as an annual herb. It has a dark brown, short main root to it. If you see it growing in the southern portion of Finland, the plant offers bright purple sprays, particularly on rocky outcrops or hilly fields in the spring months.
On their own, the flowers will only get a few millimeters across, but when they grow in massive clumps, they can turn a whole landscape a striking bluish-purple color. The leaves on this flower are basal, and they typically grow on a lanceolate or rosette stem. It’s common to see oblong-shaped, unstalked leaves.
There are many types of forget me nots that come in a range of bright colors with soft green foliage. Forget Me Not by John Munt / CC BY-NC 2.0
5. Field Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis arvensis)
This purple forget me not flower falls into the Borage family, especially the one that is native to Europe and Asia, the Boraginaceae. Additionally, you can now find this plant growing in northern and eastern North America as it’s been introduced here.
This plant is typically an annual or biannual, and it can also be a perennial herb. It will get between 4 and 16 inches high at full maturity under the correct growing conditions. It will give you corolla bluish-purple flowers in a fun funnel shape that usually get fused together and five lobed. The leaves of this plant are staked basal leaves, and you’ll see stalks hat have wide wings on them.
The popularity and success of this purple forget me not plant is widely due to the flexibility it displays because the seeds have the ability to wait to sprout for 30 days and then start germinating when the surrounding environment is favorable and ideal for strong growth. However, it’s not nearly as flexible when it comes to soil conditions, and you find it growing on rocky surfaces, like in a vegetable garden.
6. Lapland Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis decumbens)
This purple forget me not plant species is in the Myosotis genus, and it’s a member of the Borage family. It’s another perennial herb that will get between 6 and 16 inches tall at full maturity. The stem you’ll get on this plant is ascending-erect, and this means that it’s branched and has hair-spreading flush at the surface.
As the name suggests, this plant grows in the northern portion of Finland, and some of the most favorable growing conditions include in broad-leaf forests, stream banks, springs, and birch woodlands. One big thing each of these preferred habitats have in common is that they are tangled, wet thickets that are virtually impossible to get through.
The flowering period for this purple forget me not starts in July and goes to the end of August, and it produces wheel-shaped flowers that have a funnel-shaped mouth with protuberances.
7. Strict Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis stricta)
Native to Eurasia, this is also called the Blue forget me not flower, but it’s now been widely introduced to North America and New England today. As with most purple forget me nots, it’s part of the Borage family and the species Boraginaceae. It has a short taproot, and it’s an annual herb.
This plant is smaller, and it’s common to get between two and eight inches tall at full maturity with a very erect stem that branches out from the base. It also has hooked hairs on the surface. The flowers feature a fun rectangular shape to them, and they’re usually funnel shaped with a very pale coloring.
This plant is very familiar to people as it holds a solid reputation as being a symbol of love and friendship. Out of the entire forget me not family, this also holds the distinction of being one of the earliest blooming plants. You’ll typically find it growing on rocky outcrops. The habitat of this purple forget me not range from distrubed fields to sandy soils.
8. Tufted Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis laxa)
You will hear this purple forget me not referred to by many other common names, including the Small Flower Forget Me Not and the Bay Forget Me Not. You’ll mainly find it growing in the northern portion of the Northern Hemisphere, and it likes to grow in various habitats, including moist and wet soil conditions. This particular plant is usually native to the pound, seepages, and stream banks in North America. The habitat is usually more aquatic and terrestrial, and you find it in wetlands.
This plant gives you a range of stunning flowers that comes in a huge color spectrum, including purple, red, and blue. The leaves are usually very simple, often unlobed or lobed, but leaflets never separate into them. The flowers usually form tight clusters called racemes, and they curl very tightly at the flower’s tip. The clusters of flowers will open up very gradually in succession, and the flowers’ tips will unfurl and elongate.
9. Water Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scorpioides)
This is a herbaceous perennial purple forget me not that is native to the moist meadows and steam banks of Eurasia. You can find it in several New England states and in North America in wet areas. The habitat of this plant ranges from marshes and wetland margins to rivers and lake shores.
This is a perennial wildflower that grows between 6 and 10 inches tall at full maturity, and it has a medium-colored stem that is very hairy. It loves to grow in moist to wet conditions in full or partial sun exposure. It also has a great ability to adapt to ordinary garden soil as long as you keep it moist. The soil will also have to be a simple loam or a clay-loam for it to thrive.
This plant gives you clusters of flowers called racemes that are between 2 and 10 inches long, so they’re on the bigger side. Each flower has five petals or so, and the sepals or petals usually get infused into a cup or tube shape.
Forget me nots do very well in moist environments, and they thrive around ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers on your property. Forget-me-nots by Dave Gunn / CC BY-NC 2.0
10. Wood Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica)
Better known as the Woodland Forget Me Not, this purple forget me not is a very short-lived herbaceous perennial. It originated in Asia and Europe, and it is part of the Boraginaceae family.
It’s a hairy and tufted spring flowering plant that is very easy to grow as long as you have it in moist, well-drained, but organically rich soil. It loves to be in full sun to partial shade to grow fully, and it gets between 5 and 12 inches tall. The plant will give you very beautiful, bright, purple, white, or pink flowers that have white or yellow eyes that are very striking.
The flowering period for this purple forget me not starts during the middle of spring and goes through mid-summer. Bumblebees and butterflies enjoy the nectar that this plant produces at this time. It’s also famous for being something that is very low maintenance, and it’s extremely versatile since it does well in banks, borders, rock gardens, and as an under planting for your shrubs.
This variety has hairy, oblong green leaves that get between one and three inches long. It’s easy to maintain this plant and keep it healthy, and it resists a huge range of pests, including deer and rabbits.
Quick Reference Guide for Purple Forget Me Nots
|Plant Type:||Herbaceous flowering biennial||Flower Coloring:||Blue, pink, white, and purple|
|Native To:||Eurasia||Water Needs:||Medium|
|Hardiness:||Zones 3 to 9||Maintenance:||Low|
|Bloom Time:||Spring to Summer||Tolerance:||Deer, drought, and rabbits|
|Exposure:||Full Sun/Part Shade||Soil Type:||Sandy, loamy, and clay|
|Spacing:||4 to 6 inches||Soil pH:||6.0 to 8.0|
|Planting Depth:||Seeds – Soil surface Transplants – depth of root ball||Soil Drainage:||Well draining|
|Height:||2 to 12 inches||Common Uses:||Beds, borders, and containers|
|Spread:||6 to 9 inches||Family:||Boraginaceae|
|Disease and Pest Issues:||Aphids, crown rot, powdery mildew, and rust||Species:||Sylvatica|
How To Grow and Care for Purple Forget-Me-Nots
Out of the hundreds of slower species available, purple forget me not plants are some of the most straightforward to care for and maintain because they’re technically wildflowers. Most diseases or predators aren’t attracted to this type of flower, and this is great news if you would like to plant them in your vegetable garden to help attract beneficial pollinators.
Since most of these flowers are perennials, they will come back year after year wherever you plant them. They will also propagate very rapidly, so you want to make sure you have enough space for them to grow.
This plant is relatively easy to propagate, whether you choose to use division or seed. Most purple forget me nots are biennial, and they grow from seeds and disperse in late summer and fall. They flower and disperse seeds the following year before dying off. But, since they self-seed, it’s easy to keep them coming back.
Even though most plants will only survive as a biennial, they can survive slightly longer as a very short-lived perennial, depending the the growing conditions and variety you pick out. Diving purple forget me nots every three or five years in the spring after they flower or in the early fall months will allow you to be successful. You should carefully dig up the root ball and pull the roots apart by hand to divide it.
This plant sets seeds during the heat of summer and it’ll self-seed, so this means that the plant will survive for years in your garden if you don’t deadhead them as soon as they finish blooming. The seeds get dispersed further by water and animals.
You can easily collect the seeds from your plants before they spread or buy them online or at a local nursery. Directly sow the seeds into your garden during the midsummer months. To prepare your soil, you’ll want to rake it to loosen it up and smooth out the surface before watering it lightly.
Broadcast your seeds along the soil’s surface or sow them individually roughly four inches apart. Seedlings will start to appear in the fall and your plants will bloom during the following spring. You can also start the seeds indoors eight to ten weeks before the last frost in small pots using a moistened soilless medium. Sow three or four seeds per pot and push them gently into the medium.
Keep your pots in a warm, dark location between 64 and 68 degrees F, and keep the medium moist at all times. The seeds will germinate within 14 to 21 days. Rather than watering them from above, try to set the pots in a dish of water and allow them to soak up water to prevent root rot.
You should start hardening them off when each seedling has two sets of leaves. You can transplant them right away after you harden them off, or you can wait to transplant them until the fall months. Any plants you transplant in the spring should bloom the same year, and ones you plant in the fall will start blooming the following spring.
Propagating these flowers is relatively easy, and they’ll self-seed once you get them in the ground and growing. Seedling by Kevin Doncaster / CC BY 2.0
Common Problems for the Purple Forget-Me-Not
Most garden pests will leave the purple forget me not alone. However, there are a few potential issues you have to be aware of with this plant, including:
Most diseases that attack the purple forget me not flower is from fungal pathogens that do well in humid and moist conditions. Crown rot is caused by soilborn Sclerotium delphinii fungi, and it turns into a huge issue in heavy soils or damp conditions. It attacks the lower portion of the stem right near the soil.
You’ll see crown rot as the brown rot that forms at the soil line and creeps slowly upwards. This rot will eventually girdle your plant, and the leaves will start to drop off and die due to lack of water getting through the stem. The disease spreads via splashing water and tools, and there is very little you can do to save the plant once crown rot takes hold. You should remove and dispose of the entire plant to stop it from spreading further.
You can prevent this disease from impacting your plants by putting them in very well draining soil, only watering them when it gets dry, and making sure the soil isn’t piled up against the plant stem.
This is a very light-colored, powdery covering that will appear on the plant’s leaves. It’s very seldom fatal, but it will ruin how your plant looks on a temporary basis. You can help prevent it by not overhead watering.
Rust will create pustules that will break open and allow orange spores to form on the undersides of your leaves. You’re more prone to notice yellow spots on the top parts of the leaves though. It thrives in more damp environments, just like powdery mildew. Avoid getting the foliage wet to avoid it forming.
We’ve touched on 10 pretty purple forget me not flowers and talked about how to plant, propagate, and care for them to ensure that they brighten up your garden for years on end. You can mix and match types to create a stunning color show in your garden in early spring and summer.