Inula Royleana
Midwest Gardening
Brunnera

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Brunnera, hosta-like foliage with forget-me-not flowers

Brunnera is a slow spreading perennial with foliage that remains lovely throughout the growing season.  Delicate forget-me-not-like flowers rise above the foliage in slender stems in early spring.  Moist soil is required and is perfect in a woodland garden if there is not too much competition from dense mature trees.  Although Brunnera is quite tolerant of average soils, enriched soil will encourage robust growth, healthy foliage, and better blooming   Brunnera spreads slowly by creeping rhizomes and from self seeding, the variegated forms spreading most slowly.  Brunnera is best planted in autumn.  Once established, little care is required other than supplemental watering and light feeding.  When nutrients are not available to Brunnera the leaves turn yellow.  The color change is difficult to correct once the natural frosting, veining, or variegation is lost.  Life span can be expected anywhere from 3-10 years.

 

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’
Brunnera 'Jack Frost' by Henry10

  • Common Name: Siberian bugloss, Brunnera-Heartleaf, False Forget-Me-Not
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  12-16”
  • Spread:  12-18”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Shade to part shade
  • Water Requirements:  Average to moist, will not tolerate consistently dry conditions.
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers consistently moist, organically rich soil.  Will tolerate average soils.  Prefers acidic soil but will tolerate neutral to slightly alkaline.
  • Growth Habit:  Neatly mounded clumps
  • Bloom Time: April to May
  • Bloom Color: Intense sky blue
  • Bloom Form:  Dainty forget-me-not-like flowers that rise above the foliage on airy, 18” branched stems.
  • Foliage:  Heart shaped rough textured leaves 3-5” wide.  Young leaves are elliptical.
  • Fragrance:  None noted
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant.  Occasionally bothered by slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Apply liquid fertilizer in spring and early summer.  Side dress with organic compost or composted manure.
  • Maintenance:  Allow foliage to over winter to protect the rhizomes, clean up old foliage in spring.  Additional winter mulch is suggested in cold climates, and a summer mulch will help keep roots cool and moist in hot periods.  Remove spent flower stalks after blooming if a neat appearance if preferred.
  • Other:  Divide when the plant begins to deteriorate in the center, replanting the young outer clumps and discarding the center.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

‘Jack Frost’ has become a very popular introduction.  The heart shaped leaves are frosted silver, veined and edged with mint green, creating a crackled appearance.  The leaves are upward and outward facing, allowing maximum display of their dramatic color and texture.  The shimmering silver will light up dark corners of a shade garden.  Vivid blue sprays of blooms appear above the foliage in mid to late spring.  Cut the sprays of star-like flowers to add a lovely touch to a spring bouquet.

It is an easy Brunnera to grow and will do well in most shady conditions with the exception of consistently dry.  In heavily wooded areas, competition for soil moisture may adversely affect ‘Jack Frost’.  Plant at the edges of a woodland garden to make supplemental watering easier.  This is a great perennial for small spaces, as an underplanting, massed as a ground cover, or for containers.  And why not incorporate into north side foundation plantings where the wonderful foliage can be appreciated up close  ‘Jack Frost’ is an excellent addition to a silver and white garden, or contrasted with blue-green foliage plants. The foliage clumps are dense and full, so when planting in groups space 18 - 24” apart so ‘Jack Frost’s’ lovely mounded form is not hidden.  ‘Jack Frost’ is an interesting alternative to hosta.

‘Jack Frost’ will tolerate more heat and sun than most other variegated Brunnera but it hot regions, afternoon shade will help prevent leaf scorch.  Full shade is best in hot zones.  Morning sun is best in cold zones.

 

Brunnera macrophylla ’Variegata’
Brunnera macrophylla 'Variegata' by sonya seattle

  • Common Name: Siberian Bugloss, Heartleaf Brunnera, False forget-me-not
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  12-16”
  • Spread:  12-18”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Shade
  • Water Requirements:  Requires consistently moist soil, short periods of dryness may be tolerated in full shade.
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers consistently moist, organically rich soil.  Will tolerate average soils.  Prefers neutral soil to slightly acidic soil.
  • Growth Habit:  Upright clump, somewhat mounded
  • Bloom Time: April through May
  • Bloom Color: Vivid sky blue
  • Bloom Form:  Tiny star shaped flowers in clusters on long branched stems
  • Foliage:  Deep green with bold irregular creamy white margins.  Crinkled texture.
  • Fragrance:  None noted
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant, occasionally bothered by slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Apply liquid fertilizer in spring and early summer.  Side dress with organic compost or composted manure.
  • Maintenance:  Allow foliage to over winter to protect the rhizomes, clean up old foliage in spring.  Additional winter mulch is suggested in cold climates, and a summer mulch will help keep roots cool and moist in hot periods.  Remove spent flower stalks after blooming if a neat appearance if preferred.
  • Other:  Divide when the plant begins to deteriorate in the center, replanting the young outer clumps and discarding the center.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

Brunnera ‘Variegata’ is a wonderfully distinct foliage plant, with very bold and irregular white margins creating a very splashy effect in the shade garden.   Occasionally a leaf my even be nearly all white.  Airy blooms float above the foliage on slender stems and last for weeks.  The blooms last longest in cooler climates.  Cut the sprays of star-like flowers to add a lovely touch to a spring bouquet.  After the bloom period, leaves grow rapidly and become very large.  This is a great perennial for small spaces, as an underplanting, massed as a ground cover, or for containers.  And why not incorporate into north side foundation plantings where the wonderful foliage can be appreciated up close

‘Variegata’ is best grown in full shade.  A few hours of direct morning sun in northern climates is tolerated if soil is sufficiently moist.  When dividing a variegated plant, make sure good size clumps are used for transplanting.  Pieces too small tend to revert to green with no variegation.

 

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Mr. Morse’
Brunnera Mr. Morse

  • Common Name: Siberian bugloss, Brunnera-Heartleaf, False Forget-Me-Not
  • Plant Type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  12-16”
  • Spread:  12-18”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Shade to part shade
  • Water Requirements:  Average but consistently moist, will not tolerate consistently dry conditions.
  • Soil Requirements:  Prefers consistently moist, organically rich soil.  Will tolerate average soils.  Prefers acidic soil but will tolerate neutral to slightly alkaline.
  • Growth Habit:  Neatly mounded clumps
  • Bloom Time: April to May
  • Bloom Color: Pearl white
  • Bloom Form:  Tiny star shaped flowers in airy clusters on 15” tall branched stems
  • Foliage:  Heart shaped rough textured leaves 3-5” wide.  Young leaves are elliptical.
  • Fragrance:  None Noted
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant.  Occasionally bothered by slugs and snails.
  • Fertilize:  Apply liquid fertilizer in spring and early summer.  Side dress with organic compost or composted manure.
  • Maintenance:  Allow foliage to over winter to protect the rhizomes, clean up old foliage in spring.  Additional winter mulch is suggested in cold climates, and summer mulch will help keep roots cool and moist in hot periods.  Remove spent flower stalks after blooming if a neat appearance is preferred.
  • Other:  Divide when the plant begins to deteriorate in the center, replanting the young outer clumps and discarding the center.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

‘Mr. Morse’ is very similar to ‘Jack Frost’ except it has white flowers, the only Brunnera that does not have blue flowers.  The dark green leaves are frosted with silver with the veining showing through.  The crackled finish adds intricate interest.  The overall effect is slightly more subdued than ‘Jack Frost’ foliage, appearing somewhat more green and less silvered.

‘Mr. Morse’ is easy to grow and will do well in most shady conditions with the exception of consistently dry.  In heavily wooded areas, competition for soil moisture may adversely affect ‘Mr. Morse’.  Plant at he edges of a woodland garden to make supplemental watering easier.  This is a great perennial for small spaces, as an underplanting, massed as a ground cover, or for containers.  Any dhy not incorporate into the north side foundation plantings where the wonderful foliage can be appreciated up close.  ‘Mr. Morse’ is a perfect addition to a white and silver garden.

Like ‘Jack Frost’, ‘Mr. Morse’ will tolerate more heat and sun than most other variegated Brunnera, but in hot regions, afternoon shade will help prevent leaf scorch.  Full shade is best in hot zones.  Morning sun is best in cold zones.

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