1264 Cynoglossum amabileCommon Names: Chinese forget-me-not,Chinese hound's tongue Family: Boraginaceae (borage Family)
Chinese forget-me-not is bushy little plant that gets around 18-24 in (45-60 cm) tall and a foot (30 cm) or so across. The stem is covered in short, stiff hairs and so are the lance shaped, dull green, alternately arranged leaves. Basal leaves are 2-8 in (5-20 cm) long and attached with winged petioles; cauline leaves are smaller (2-3 in; 5-8 cm long), and attached directly to the stem. Flowers are usually a clear sky blue but in some strains may be white or pale pink. They are borne profusely on terminal one sided cymes that curl downward. Individual flowers are tube shaped with five spreading lobes and only a quarter inch (8 mm) across. The fruits are tiny burrs or “stick-tights”, suggesting the common name for some other members of the genus: beggar’s lice.
‘Firmament’ is small and compact and sports fuzzy grayish leaves and dark blue flowers. It is the cultivar most commonly available. ‘Blue Showers’ is a taller cultivar that may be hard to find nowadays.
Cynoglossum amabile is native to temperate zones in eastern Asia, where it grows in meadows and grasslands. It has become established in a few parts of the northeastern US, but has not been considered to be a pest.
Light: Grow Chinese forget-me-not in full sun to light shade. In warmer climates, some afternoon shade is desirable. Moisture: Chinese forget-me-not likes a soil that is moist, but still well drained. They do not do well in heavy, clayey soils and are at their best in soils that are not overly fertile. Too much nitrogen in the soil may cause them to grow too tall, flop over, and produce excessive leafy vegetation at the expense of flowers. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 8 . Chinese forget-me-not usually is grown as an annual although technically it is a biennial that lives for two years. It does best in temperate climates, and is not well suited for hot, humid climates, where it may die back in summer to regain its composure in the cool of the autumn. Propagation: Seed should be sown in situ in spring or (in milder climates) in fall. Cover lightly with a quarter inch (6 mm) or less of soil. Germination is usually within a week or ten days for seed sown in spring; fall sown seed germinates the following spring. Normally, Chinese forget-me-not will self-seed with vigor, and may even become too numerous.
Chinese forget-me-not is a biennial, but one that typically blooms in its first year from seed. The slow growing Chinese forget-me-not graces us with abundant sprays of pretty blue flowers that bloom over a long period in late spring and summer. Use it in mixed borders, annual flower beds and along garden paths. The self-seeding Chinese forget-me-not is very well suited for naturalizing in meadows and informal flower gardens. This is an easy plant to grow and one that will reward the beginning gardener within mere weeks of planting. Chinese forget-me-not is beautiful as a cut flower in arrangements, but is not especially long lasting.
The flowers of Chinese forget-me-not are very similar to those of the American forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica, which is in the same family. Chinese forget-me-not was a common component of old fashioned cottage gardens and sometimes can be found still blooming merrily years after the original gardener has moved on.
Steve Christman 6/23/16