Brunnera macrophylla is often mistaken as being a Myosotis - Forget me Not - as the flowers are quite similar. Quite understandable, for both are members of the same family - Boraginaceae.
Brunnera is low-growing herbaceous perennial and as hardy as they come. It prefers shade and damp if available, and will repay you with vivid blue flowers held aloft of the carpet of foliage.
An added attraction is the fact that it flowers in early or mid spring. Blue is not a common flower colour in the early months of the year and Brunnera is quite happy to brighten up a dark corner in a bed or at the foot of a wall, or the woodland walk.
Other than brightening up a dark or shaded area, is good for ground cover planting, and soon spreads via underground rhizomes. It is not invasive as such; just a good carpet forming plant. It is in full leaf in mid spring and up the job of smothering emerging weed seedlings.
(This is where those botanical plant names come in handy, because it tells us that this plant - Brunnera macrophylla has large leaves (which it does, in relation the size of the plant overall). 'Macro' = large and 'phylla' = leaves. So, that's the end of the Greek/Latin lesson.)
It is also suitable for planting in a shade area of a shrub bed, as long as it has access to adequate soil moisture. It does not like direct sunshine, but will tolerate if watered well when the leaves collapse.
It is nice to be able to present you with a plant that really is low maintenance. It appreciated a light mulch in the autumn after the foliage has died off. This is simply to keep the soil organic level up, and help retain the moisture to which Brunnera are so partial.
In hot summers, if the ground dries out and the large leaves begin to collapse, then give them a good soaking. A light spray is no good. Really dampen the soil. Brunneras do not however like waterlogged soil; conditions.
Brunnera – when it reaches its full height in late spring – is rarely taller than 12in (30cm) though the flowers will extend a bit over the top of the foliage. The spread of a single plant will be around 2ft – 60cm after two years of growth in ideal conditions.
As well as all the attributes listed above, the Brunnera is virtually problem free, though if planted in a hot dry area – against our advice – it may be subject to powdery mildew in late summer.
Brunnera can be raised from seed. This is best bought from a reliable seed source, rather than trying to collect and save your own seed, for the seed is best sown in early spring. A cold greenhouse, or cold-frame being the ideal propagation area.
The ordinary green form – Brunnera macrophylla – can also be propagated from root cutting taken from the plant in middle to late winter. Don’t attempt the variegated form this method, because they rarely succeed.
The plants can also be divided in early spring – just as the growth starts to emerge.
Brunnera macrophylla – basically green foliage and our main subject matter.
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Betty Bowring - Similar to above, but with white flowers and is quite a prolific bloomer.
Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ has green leaves with silver mottling. The flowers are lighter blue than the type.
Brunnera ‘Dawson’s White’ has wide silver white margins to the leaves – which are lighter green than the type. The flowers are also lighter blue.