Myosotis, a plant to remember.
Myosotis is a large genus (around 50 species) of low-growing herbaceous plants that thrive near the edges of little pools of water or in a wet, loamy soil. They can be found in every inhabited section of the earth.
Myosotis is a member of the Boraginaceae family, which also contains Borago (Borage), Heliotropium (Heliotrope), and Pulmonaria (Lungwort). It has lanceolate (long, narrow, pointy at the apex) to oblanceolate (longer than broad, pointed at the apex, rouneed at the base), sessile (stemless), brilliant green leaves that alternately oppose on a creeping, stolon-like stem. Leaves may grow to be 4-6″ long and 34″ wide. The stem branches profusely and roots at any leaf node. Flowers are borne on a stalk that unrolls as it grows, thus the name scorpioides, which means “tail of a scorpion.” Flowers are five-petaled, blue or pink, and approximately 14″ across. The seeds are tiny, black, and gleaming.
Only two Myosotis species are known to be tolerant of standing water. They are known as M. laxa, which is endemic to the majority of North America, Chile, Europe, and Asia (I saw it in Mono Lake in California); and M. scorpioides, a plant native to Europe and Asia that has become naturalized in North America (I have seen it in southern Michigan). M. M is smaller than laxa. scorpioides, which grows to barely two-thirds the size of M. The blossoms are a lighter shade of blue on Scorpioides. In any event, its appealing and recognizable blue blossoms are an old-time favorite among gardeners and have inspired ages of poetry, music, and art. However, for our needs, they provide virtually year-round beauty and delight around the edges of our ponds, streams, and waterfall weirs.
HOW THEY GROW?
Myosotis is culturally undemanding, but you couldn’t have told me otherwise when I first had M. scorpioides. I couldn’t grow it for the life of me. I had to learn it twice or three times before I got it correctly. Then something occurred. I planted some in Rancho Santa Fe’s small, artificial stream, amid the boulders that covered the bottom and sides of the stream for its entire length. Because the stream lies in direct sunlight, the stones had been covered with algae and calcium deposits and were rather unsightly. Within a few months, the Mysotis had grown to the point that the stones were completely covered with plants, obstructing the flow of the stream and almost emptying the pond. We carved a path through the plants, and the plants look nice virtually all of the time with no upkeep. Since then, I’ve had no issue growing the plant in a variety of locations and under a variety of circumstances. It’s strange how that works at times.
I’ve discovered that the best technique to grow Myosotis is to position it in a location where water runs through the roots. The plants may be started on a bed of soil but should be encouraged to spread out into the stream. Fountain basins have shown to be excellent Myosotis containers. These basins unavoidably collect debris from above and from the pond. This is generally rather unattractive and may support luxuriant colonies of various algae. Myosotis and other plants will thrive just as well as algae in the collected muck. The plants may be started from seed. As the new root system develops, it collects fine debris from the water and creates its own substrate. The plants will rapidly fill the basin and hang down in floral masses that are sure to attract attention. Of course, the plants must be cut on a regular basis, and the buildup of detritus means that the root system will ultimately pile up to the point where the plants are no longer in the water but are kept above it by the debris underneath. I have to dig it all out and start over once or twice a year to replenish the planting, but this is a tiny price to pay for such a show.
One of the benefits of Myosotis is that it can grow in or out of the water, making it an ideal plant for the edge of a pond or stream. Volunteer seedlings have appeared amid the flowers in the garden, many feet away from the pond where it was initially placed. On the other hand, as long as it is anchored on the pond’s edge, it will grow in a floating carpet across many feet of open water. It looks great when combined with Rotala rotundifolia, Mimulus purpurea, or young Water Cress.
When old flowers and plants are ready to bloom, they must be removed from the colony. This keeps the overall appearance fresh. As previously indicated, it is best to remove it altogether or to severely trim it once or twice a year to enable it to regenerate. This is particularly true if it has been gathering fine particles from moving water. It is often carved out in chunks and transferred to other parts of the garden. Plants that are left in the basin or stream will regrow fast. It is beneficial to feed it 14-14-14 Osmocote on a regular basis. This supplements whatever it gets from the pond’s water and maintains it looking its best.
Propagation is also simple. If plants are permitted to generate seeds, they create a great quantity of them. Seeds may be planted in sand or a mixture of sand and peat. The seeds germinate fast, and the seedlings develop swiftly as well. Cuttings root easily in water, and root ball divisions thrive in their new environments.
Aphis are pests that may be controlled with a variety of methods, including ladybugs, lacewings, and different sprays. Mealybugs and Whiteflies may be a nuisance in old, crowded stands.
M. scorpioides and M. scorpioides Laxa are wonderful plants that will provide the pond owner with hours of entertainment. They are low-maintenance and give practically year-round color in our temperate environment. It is difficult to think of a plant that is more suitable for both novice and experienced pond owners.