Don’t Forget This Streamside Plant

Published on May 22, 2008

aquatic_streamside_pond_plant_forgetmenot
It’s a beauty, Forget Me Not (Myosotis scorpoides).

A plant that I absolutely love to use in a water garden is a low-growing groundcover that is hard to forget. For use as a border plant or a waterfall filter plant I recommend Forget Me Not (Myosotis scorpoides) as a top choice. There is hardly an easier plant to grow and the diversity of possible uses makes this one of the best selections for the margin of the water garden.

The most common form is the light blue flowering version, with some nurseries offering white and pink variants. The more vigorous blue Forget Me Not is my choice simply because blue is such an under-used color in the landscape. The display of diminutive blue flowers is like a frosting of color on the dense carpet of emerald green foliage. Especially at home in the cool running water of a waterfall or streambed the roots of this plant make a great addition to the natural biological filtration of the water garden. The tiny but numerous fibrous roots literally teem with beneficial bacteria in the highly oxygenated water of a waterfall.

Planting is a breeze with the Forget Me Not; it’s as easy as rooting a plant in a glass of water. Only this time the glass of water is your pond. Plants are grown as container grown plants, cells and bare root stem cuttings. For waterfall and streamside plantings the unrooted stem cuttings are best. Simply stick the stem (or several stems at once) under a rock along the edge of the waterfall and nature takes care of the rest. The stems are usually 6-8 inches in length, but mid-summer stem cuttings may be much longer. A soft pinch shortens the stem length and encourages branching. Don’t worry about pinching of the flowers; the Forget Me Not blooms so vigorously that you’ll soon have flowers again on a more dense plant. Occasional pinching throughout the summer helps keep the plant growth dense and in bounds.

In the planting method where stems are inserted in the stonework, no soil is necessary. The new roots will capture soil particles as they flow through the streambed, eventually making a mat of roots filled with fine silt-laden soil and fish waste. The fish waste becomes plant food and is no longer algae food. No additional fertilizer is ever used in a streambed or waterfall planting.

Planting along the edge of the pond can be done the same way, but soil can be added in planting zones the same way any other aquatic plant is grown. Planting pockets in the stonework are filled with a good grade of clay-loam topsoil before inserting the cuttings or cell-grown plant. If a larger container grown plant is to be installed, plant the entire root ball in the shallow part of the planting zone. A Forget Me Not prefers very shallow water, ranging from wet feet to a couple of inches of water over the soil surface.

Planting in soil allows you to fertilize if you desire. Often the plant gains enough nutrition from the water and requires little additional fertilization. If needed, insert a single fertilizer tablet into the root ball every month or two during the growing season.

In hot climates, Forget Me Not often goes semi-dormant unless it is planted in a running stream. As soon as cooler temperatures return, the plant will return to a more lush growth pattern.

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Due to its preference to cool and even cold-water conditions, Forget Me Not is a perfect choice for planting around the edge of a natural cool water spring. The carpet of growth will naturalize along the stream for a delightful border of blue flowers all summer.

Trim dead flowers as often as needed. Since they are such tiny flowers, wait until most of the flowers along a stem are spent, then give the plant a haircut with pruning scissors or sharp hand pruners. Trimming of the flowers stimulates more flower production and additional branching of the stems.

For a great all around plant choice the diversity of places this plant grows make the Forget Me Not a plant you should not forget!

Source: Pond & Garden Lifestyle May/June & July/August 2008

About the IWGS

The International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society is a non-profit, international resource for education, research, conservation and networking, dedicated to the water garden community, professional and hobbyist alike. For information, please call 540-337-9344 or email me at execdirector@iwgs.org. See us also on the web at www.iwgs.org.

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