Friday, June 1, 2012
The conditions under which this plant grows naturally tell us something about the conditions under which it will thrive. First, it grows in open conditions. This means that full shade in our climate is not its preferred habitat. When I first obtained this plant, many years ago, I tried to grow it in full shade, and it did not do well there. Nor does it like competition from tree roots. This probably stems from its love of moisture.
Second, even though it does not like full shade, it is from a mostly cloudy climate, and it does not like hot baking sun, either. I tried growing it in a part of my garden that got all day sun, and on those one or two days a year when it actually got hot here on Bainbridge Island, the plant wilted. Although it recovered as soon as it cooled down, I would not recommend a hot site for this plant.
Third, Myosotidium hortensia likes good rich soil that is well drained, but always moist. I have grown it in parts of my garden that consist of sand and compost, and it did well there. I have also grown it in parts of the garden that didn't have sand, but that were nonetheless enriched with lots of compost, and it did well there, too. Where I would not plant it is in waterlogged soil nor in hard clay soil.
Fourth, it is important that you not let the plant get too dry. When I finally figured out how to grow these, I had probably 20 or 30 plants in different parts of my garden. Then, several summers ago, I had to be gone much of the summer, and my garden did not receive much attention and I did not water it at all. This, coupled with an extra cold winter, lead to the demise of all but one of my plants.
Fifth, these plants are like caviar to slugs, so be sure and use some kind of slug bait. I use Sluggo.
I have seen recommendations on the internet for using seawater or seaweed with these plants. I have never done that and don't think it is necessary.
You may wonder how I got so many plants of this since they are hard to come by here. The old and greatly missed Heronswood Nursery which used to exist near us in Kingston, Washington, carried this plant and that is where I got my first plants. I have also seen it offered one or two times in local nurseries, but that is not a usual occurrence. In any event, after I got a few plants, and they were doing well in the garden, they self sowed. Mostly they seemed to come up best in areas that stayed moist, such as at the edge of the bed and the grass. They came up in late winter or early spring. That tells me that if you can get fresh seed and sow it immediately and keep it moist and not too hot, the seeds should germinate. If fact, I have ordered seed from both New Zealand Tree Seeds, www.nzseeds.co.nz and from Jellito, www.jelitto.com and have had them germinate well with this treatment.
Myosotidium does well in pots, particularly if it is kept well watered, protected from slugs, and well fertilized.
I have been growing this plant in my garden for about 15 years, and I have to say it is well worth the trouble to grow it well. It is cold hardy here, does not need any kind of protection in the winter, and, provided the conditions are met for growing it well, does quite well here.