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Guide to Growing Siberian bugloss (Heartleaf Brunnera, Great / False forget-me-not)

Brunnera macrophylla (Syn. Anchusa myosotidiflora) is a hardy perennial that blooms in the spring, and is often grown for its striking foliage.

It is commonly known as Siberian buglass, Heartleaf Brunnera, or Great / False forget-me-not, and is a member of the 2000+ strong Boraginaceae (Forget-me-not) family. The plant is native to Siberia, and the Caucasus region of Eurasia.

As it does not grow aggressively, it is not usually considered an invasive species in countries that it is not a native of. It is a very easy to grow, low maintenance plant.

It is an ideal plant to grow in the following kinds of gardens: shaded; woodland; cottage. It makes excellent ground-cover, and as it likes shade, it is ideal for growing beneath other plants such as shrubs. It can also be grown as part of a flowerbed or in a border.

Closely related species that are grown in the garden include Borago officinalis (Borage); Echium vulgare (Vipers' bugloss); and Myosotis scorpioides (True forget-me-not).

Brunnera macrophylla Variegata
Brunnera macrophylla Variegata by Sonya.

Commonly grown varieties include Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'; 'Variegata' (Dawson's white); 'Hadspen Cream'; and 'Langtrees'. Most of these varieties are distinguishable by cream or white markings on their leaves.

Brunnera macrophylla Description Brunnera macrophylla Variegata Description

Brunnera is a hardy herbaceous perennial that grows in a clump (cultivars may be bushy) and reaches an height of 30 to 45 cm (12–18 inches), and has a spread of up to 60 cm (24 inches). It will take at least two years for the Brunnera macrophylla plant to reach full size.

Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost
Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost picture by Patrick Standish.

The leaves are cordate (heart-shaped), approximately 15 cm (6 inches), and are dark green or silvery-grey in the spring/summer; though varieties such as Variegata and jack frost also have white/cream markings, and Langtrees has speckles of silver.

Bloom time: Small flowers appear in delicate sprays from the middle of spring for about nine or ten weeks, are an intense blue.

Siberian bugloss
Siberian bugloss flowers: photograph by Dan Century.



Growing Brunnera macrophylla

Brunnera macrophylla Growing Guide

  • Grow in zones 3–8 in shady or partially shady areas. Will perform poorly if not grown under full shade in warmer regions.
  • Brunnera macrophylla Prefer a moist soil (with good drainage) that is fertile and hummus-rich.
  • Sow seeds (covered) in the summer. Space plants about 20 to 40 cm (10–20 inches) apart, or grow singularly.
  • Very easy to care for. Water regularly to maintain moist soil (but do not saturate the soil).
  • Plants are not overly susceptible to pests and diseases.
  • Although plants self-seed and may appear in other areas of the garden, it is easy to control by weeding; self-seeding can be avoided by dead-heading flowers once they have finished blooming.
  • Divide every four to six years to maintain vigour. It is not necessary to cut back or remove dead leaves from plants, but doing so will tidy up the plants and encourage renewed leaf growth and sometimes a second bloom.
  • Propagate from root cuttings in the winter, by division in the spring; or allow to self-seed (but not  Brunnera macrophylla cultivars, as they will not stay true from self-seed).

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