Brunnera macrophylla

The spring displays of Siberian bugloss light up shady areas.


While many gardeners grow pulmonaria for their silver-splashed leaves and forget-me-not flowers in spring, for sheer springtime impact the smart money these days is on Siberian bugloss or great forget-me-not, Brunnera macrophylla.

These stout, clump-forming or slightly spreading deciduous perennials have heart-shaped leaves, and like pulmonaria are covered in airy sprays of long-lasting forget-me-not blossoms in shades of blue and white. Although pulmonaria come in a wider range of colours, brunnera is resistant to the mildew that blights many varieties of pulmonaria after they have peaked. In the wild brunnera comes from the Caucasus, growing in cool woods and other moist, shady places.

As a plant it has impact, especially in its silvered and variegated forms, which also look good in pots located in a shade spot, where other sun-lovers would struggle. It grows wild in the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe, growing in cool woods and other moist, shady places. Likewise in cultivation it likes cool, moist, shady conditions where it will thrive in a wide variety of soils, even heavy clay. They generally struggle in sun, where the variegated forms easily scorch, although some of the thicker leaved varieties such as ‘Silver Heart’ will tolerate stronger light as long as the soil remains moist. They are generally easy to grow and long-lived plants. To propagate them simply lift and divide in autumn.

Trim back tatty leaves in late winter before new foliage emerges and remove spent flower stems to keep the plant looking neat where it will remain a real asset in the garden.