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January 22nd 2014

FLOWER FOCUS: Chinese Forget Me Not’s

Written by
Floret

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Cynoglossum amiable (or) Chinese Forget Me Not’s are one of the most adorable, delicate, treasured spring flowers that we grow. They are very similar in appearance to the old fashioned Forget Me Not’s you’ll find growing in woodland spots of the garden but this particular type makes a far better cut flower crop for a number of reasons.

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First, Chinese Forget Me Not’s can be grown as an annual crop unlike the traditional biennial types which require a year or more to properly bloom.

Second, they have nice tall, sturdy stems that often reach 18″ or more. Perfect for bouquet work and solid bunches to the floral design trade.

Lastly they are extremely productive! As long as you keep on top of harvesting and don’t let the flowers run to seed, they will bloom for up to 6 weeks. I’ve had good success extending the flowering window by sowing two plantings of seed, a month apart so when the first crop finishes, there is another just coming into bloom.

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Seed is a little tricky because it needs to be super fresh. Even though the packet always says that the germination rate is 85%, I’ve never had anywhere near that level of success. For me it’s more like 40-50%. So keep this in mind when ordering seed and get 2-3x as much as you’ll want in the long run.

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I sow 2-3 seeds per plug and grow them in either 128 or 200 cell trays. Seeds are lightly covered with soil, watered deeply and then set on the 68-70* heated table until sprouting.

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There are two blue varieties on the market, ‘Blue Showers’ and ‘Firmament’. For the tallest stem length you’ll want to track down ‘Blue Showers’ for sure. There is also a darling pink variety called ‘Mystic Pink’ which has a much higher seed germination rate than the blues and its stems often reach a solid 2ft. I grow both in abundance.

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It’s ideal to get seeds going as early as possible because Chinese Forget Me Nots are a little slow to start and also thrive in cooler spring weather. I sowed ours last week and will follow with another round at Valentines. Seed for both colors can be found at Ivy Garth Seed and Plants. If you’re a home garden,’Firmament’ (the slightly shorter blue variety) can be found at Stokes.

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I usually tuck our first crop into the hoop house and the second wave out into the field. Plants are spaced 9×9″ apart and are grown in pre burned landscape fabric to help keep the early spring weeds at bay.

As always, if you have any questions, be sure to leave them in the comment section below.

Happy planting!

61 Comments

  1. James Palacios on

    A neat trick I learned a short while ago from a friend could be used to boost the germination rate of the seeds up to around 60%-70%.

    What you do is slightly dampen a paper towel with water, place the seeds on one half of it, fold the second half over the seeds so that they’re between the two halves, then place the now “wrapped” seeds, in a ziplock bag with some air left in.

    From there, you place the bag in a sunny spot, which will enable the bag to naturally condense from the paper towel, and check in every few days for germination.

    When I did it this way, 33 of the 65ish seeds germinated, and I still had more do so in the following days.

    Reply
  2. Amanda on

    Hello! New to all of this. My son and I are planting multiple plants. The Chinese forget me nots have Started sprouting leaves about a week ago and are doing great but I am curious when they usually start to bud or show actual flowers? Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Jenna Shinn on

    When do you harvest from the field? And how long is vase-life?
    I had a great germination rate as well with the seeds you recommended..
    thank you

    Reply
  4. Lara on

    Growing these for the first time this year, had excellent germination rate- wahoo! Curious if they should be pinched, and if so at what height and how much? Thanks so much!!

    Reply
    • Team Floret on

      Hi Lara,
      Forget Me Not’s don’t need to be pinched as they grow, but be sure to pinch off their old flowers, to inspire new growth. Happy to hear you had a great germination rate!

  5. Carol Taylor on

    How do I dry these flowers? Will they keep there shape and color?

    Reply
  6. Carol Taylor on

    Hello,
    To dry these beautiful flowers,
    Should they be be hung in a dark dry place?
    Do they retain there shape and color?

    Much obliged,
    Carol

    Reply
  7. Emily on

    Do you know if these are invasive? Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Welcome spring with these hardy annual flowers - Floret Flowers on

    […] Chinese forget-me-nots (Cynoglossum amabile): This unique crop is worth considering both because of their delicate flowers and the fact that they can be successfully grown as annuals. Best known for their blue hue (like ‘Blue Showers’, above left) they also come in a lovely soft pink color,(‘Mystic Pink’, above right). Be sure to get new seed every year since freshness is vital to good germination with this crop. Also, sow twice as many as you’ll need because germination can be quite irregular. Read my past Flower Focus post on this great flower. […]

    Reply
  9. Radhika on

    I have no idea about these flowere..will these grow in india ?

    Reply
    • Team Floret on

      Hi Mechel– No, the Chinese Forget Me Nots are not considered edible. Happy gardening!

  10. Lori on

    Can you tell me how tolerant they are of hotter regions? I’m in zone 7b, close to zone 8. Hot summers. Plant in partial shade, or morning only sun? (I have a few seedlings to try this year; haven’t yet put them out.)

    Reply
  11. Judy Turnupseed on

    Also can I jus plant these in the flower bed with out seeding them?

    Reply
  12. Judy Turnupseed on

    I am planting these tomorrow after the rain ! My soil will b ready by then.they are a packet seeds I received after my mom passed! Thanks for the information ! Will these last through spring? Or even summer?

    Reply
  13. Al on

    I’m about to seed now. I know nothing of this flower just got a big bag of maybe 200 seeds
    Does it come back?
    Does it take over?
    Sun?
    Shade?
    Water?
    Lots of water?
    Help!!!!!!! Mom sent them..

    Reply
  14. Shalane on

    Ours seedling came up great but are falling over. Watered from base the first time on 3/1 when planted. Today is 3/10. Watered lightly Day 7. Soils is still damp by getting drier. We had under humidity dome. I removed today thinking the humidity was too high. Bells of Ireland seem to be doing the same thing. Both are about 1-2.5″ tall now.

    Reply
  15. Linda Q on

    I was just looking at this post to see if these would continue to flower after cutting and I got my answer. I have to add that I sowed double the amount of seeds per your instructions and they all came up! The seeds of course came from Floret?

    Reply
  16. Carmen Lelea on

    how do you keep them pink ?I had few bunches that were pink colour and they changed to blue. Could the soil be my problem?

    Reply
  17. Katie Reed on

    Hi! You had mentioned the poor germination on these seeds – I bought some from your shop and sowed them in trays, and transferred them to a dark dark (but well ventilated) closet. I had close to 100% germination after 5 days! I immediately put them under lights and they have been doing very well.
    Actually, all the seeds I’ve purchased from you have done quite well, so it’s either the high quality seed, the total darkness, luck, or a combo of the three.

    Reply
    • Floret on

      Great! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  18. Vanessa on

    Hello! Not sure if you’ve answered this before but you often mention “flower preservative”. What do you use and is it organic? Thanks!

    Reply
  19. Jump start spring by starting these flower seeds now - Floret Flowers on

    […] Cynoglossum/Chinese forget-me-nots are a unique crop worth considering both because of their delicate flowers and the fact that they can be successfully grown as annuals. Be sure to get new seed every year since freshness is vital to good germination with this crop. Also, sow twice as many as you’ll need because germination can be quite irregular.  Read my past Flower Focus post on this great flower. […]

    Reply
  20. Mara - The Farm at Oxford on

    Erin, started my cynoglossum today and had to come find this old article to see germ tips! seeded twice as much just in case, so thankful you have these old posts, lady! xo.

    Reply
  21. Flower Lover on

    I am New to reading these but this website is amazing!!!! I’m on this website to find more about the Chinese Forget-Me-Nots one….Im from China. 2……This is for a project

    Reply
  22. Renee on

    I have beautiful plants I started from seed last spring, they are about 6 inches, but no flowers? What can I do? thanks for any suggestions, r

    Reply
  23. Emily on

    Do these flowers pair well with others, or do they take over? I don’t think the container I have is big enough for my baby blues, so I’m thinking of mixing them in to a flower bed where I plan to plant a wildflower seed mix that I found at the store..

    Reply
  24. Angela on

    Hi Erin,
    Thanks you, as always, for all of your detailed info! I’m looking for specifics on post harvest handling for these babies. I harvest when it’s cool outside and put them right into the cooler. Later that day or even the next I use them in bouquets, but they seem to wilt pretty quickly. Do you put them in the cooler or back of the garage? Sear the ends? any other special tricks??
    Thanks!!

    Reply
  25. Cindy on

    Erin, how cold hardy are these? Can they go into the hoop house early with my Snaps? or wait until after our last frost. Thanks!

    Reply
  26. Val Schirmer on

    Got Blue Showers from IvyGarth and sowing 1/2 of them today! Pinks are on back order. Going to grow first bunch in crates cool greenhouse and 2nd group outside. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  27. Elaine on

    Thanks for all the information; I sowed my first batch of seeds this weekend and am hoping to do another in two weeks.

    As the owner of an independent Houston flower shop, we are constantly looking for someone who can supply us with Chinese forget me nots. Let me know if you know of a supplier!

    Thanks for the great post.

    Reply
  28. Robin on

    I love these too, grew last year but had a terrible time keeping them hydrated. They crashed in every bouquet I put them in at the market. They crashed in the vase on my table too. I cut into flower preservative water. Do you do anything special with these post harvest?

    Reply
  29. VillageRat on

    I am new to reading your posts but am enjoying this greatly. I getting back in touch with a number of flowers I forgot about and many I was not familiar.

    Thanks!!!

    Reply
  30. tina on

    Hi, love these posts!
    I too have terrible trouble with the flowers wilting after harvest. I’ve only tried Firmament, though, maybe that’s it?

    Reply
  31. Siri on

    Thanks for this, I had totally forgotten that these babies come in pink! I just ordered some from a place called Pase Seeds – never tried them before but they have a lot of single colors in things that I thought were only available in the UK. Found Centaurea ‘The Bride’ there as well, and a pink agrostemma. Methinks this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship!

    Reply
  32. calida grymaloski on

    i love the little blues!! i just thought i should share with you my germination success. i’ve been getting near 90 percent from seed purchased from Germania. i’m not at all trying to rub anything in your face here by the way ;)
    they get started in mini soil blocks in our germinating chamber and come up in 3 days! super fast! maybe i just lucked out with some fresh seed from Germania. also it could be that they prefer germinating in a mini block recipe of just peat and compost. i hope i’m not jinxing this years crop by saying all of this!!

    Reply
    • Floret on

      Fantastic tip, I’m going to try Germania and mini blocks. Thanks!

  33. Angie on

    Erin,
    I’ve had trouble with wilting Cynoglossum. What is your post harvest handling program for them? I usually harvest them in the morning and put them directly into the cooler. When I take them out, they’re often limp? Any tricks you have would be appreciated.

    Best,
    Angie

    Reply
  34. Wendy @ Holme Flowers on

    I have ordered a lot of packets, thanks Erin tried last year to grow this but was a little unsuccessful. I think that may have had something to do with us giving up too early. I love these flowers, so soft and meadowy! With your fab advice we will succeed thank you.

    Reply
  35. Melissa on

    I look forward to these every spring. Thanks for the tip on the pink variety, been wanting to add them this year but was having trouble finding them!

    Reply
  36. Andrew on

    Erin, forgive me if you’ve mentioned this before (I looked and couldn’t find it) How do you burn your ground cover? Gas torch? At 9 x 9″ that’s a LOT of holes!

    Reply
    • Floret on

      I use a propane torch with a trigger. It’s pictured in the Icelandic Poppy post.

      YES, it is a TON of holes! I can burn 300ft of fabric in a little more than an hour though so it is possible to get pretty quick : )

      Let me dig up a copy of the article I wrote about it and I’ll email it to you.

  37. Sajina sunil on

    Erin,
    You have a lovely way of sharing knowledge. I am enjoying all your posts.
    Sajina

    Reply
  38. Jamie on

    Which size of brewer do you have Erin?

    Reply
    • Floret on

      We have a 25 gal brewer from Growing Solutions

  39. Leslie Gesner on

    E,
    What do you mean by pre-burned landscape fabric?
    LG

    Reply
    • Floret on

      We take 6ft. wide pieces of landscape fabric and burn small holes every few inches that our transplants are planted into. It helps cut down on weeding.
      If you look at the most recent “this moment” photo you can see some in the greenhouse.

  40. Cindy on

    Oh Erin, you are making narrowing down my seed choices so difficult! These look perfect to go with my beautiful spring peonies.

    Reply
  41. Amelia Amish on

    thank you so much for doing the flower focus series it is fabulous! love the pictures.

    Reply
  42. Rachel @ Alaska Stems on

    Erin ~ these posts are fantastic, and I was excited this morning to see Cynoglossum pop up in your flower focus series. It grows great up here, but I’ve struggled with dropping petals and short vase life in the past few years. This fall when I pulled it out I decided that I was done growing it. I’ve been bummed since it really is so lovely, both in form and color.

    What is your experience with post-harvest care and vase life?

    Thank you again!
    -Rachel

    Reply
    • Floret on

      The flowers do drop after they’ve opened but I get pretty solid vase life. We harvest before any seeds are present on the stems and get about a week from them. Maybe you’re picking a tad too late?

  43. Terri on

    I love blue flowers…ANY blue flower!

    Reply
  44. Shanti on

    I love this flower!
    I just wanted to share a tip – I had poor germination the first year I grew these, like you said Erin. Once I stopped picking the flowers, they went to seed (very quickly) and I saved some seed. It really only took another few weeks in the ground to get dry seed. The ones I saved came up like 80-90% the following year. So if you are frustrated by low germination, the trick might be saving your own to get the freshest seed for best germ.

    BTW I am loving this flower focus series. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Floret on

      Shanti, awesome tip! Thank you!

      Soooooo happy you’re liking the Flower Focus series : )

  45. Veronica Roth on

    I love forget-me-nots but always get stuck with the not so lovely self seeding type in every garden I’ve ever had! One year the Alzheimers society sent along some lovely seeds for a donation and I’ve been growing those since.

    Reply
  46. Chandin on

    I’ve been on the fence with forget me nots, this post pushed me over! Cute little flowers in the early spring? Yes please!

    A non-forget me not question: how do you brew your compost tea? I’ve been looking into different methods and want to do what’s best for my tiny garden! Do you add the fish directly in or compost it first?

    Thanks so much! I love your blog!!

    Reply
    • Floret on

      I have a professional brewer from Growing Solutions and use all of their products. Here is a great step by step tutorial so you can see the overall idea. I will dig into this topic here soon because it is a HUGE key to our plant health. For a tiny garden you could just use the homemade 5 gal. bucket brewer method (google it) and add some fish emulsion to your final brew before spraying on the plants.

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