How to Grow Brunnera

Brunnera macrophylla

Brunnera produces sprays of small blue or white flowers nestled among handsome, coarse leaves in spring. The blooms look like tiny forget-me-nots.

Brunnera is a hardy perennial that make a good ground cover.  It grows and flowers best in dappled shade in hot summer regions. In cool-summer regions it can be planted in full sun.

Brunnera goes dormant during droughty weather but will reappear the following spring. Brunnera readily self-sows.

Plant Brunnera beneath high-branched trees or in the shade of shrubs.

Brunnera blooming in spring

Get to Know Brunnera

  • Plant type: Rhizomatous perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 3 to 8
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -35°F (-37°C); plants go dormant during droughty weather.
  • Height and width: Grows to 18 inches (45cm) tall
  • Foliage: Dark green, ovate to heart-shaped leaves 3 to 4 inches (7.6-10cm) wide; variegated forms are available
  • Flowers: Airy clusters of tiny clear blue forget-me-not flowers
  • Flower colors: Blue with yellow centers; white flowers appear rarely
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Uses: Informal ground cover under deciduous trees; filler between newly planted evergreen shrubs
  • Common name: Brunnera, Siberian bugloss
  • Botanical name: Brunnera
  • Family name: Boraginaceae
  • Origin: Eastern Europe and Northwest Asia

Where to Plant Brunnera

  • Plant Brunnera in dappled shade in hot summer regions; plant in full sun in cool-summer regions.
  • Plant Brunnera in humus-rich, well-drained, moisture-retentive soil.

Brunnera Uses to Companions

  • Grow Brunnera in shade or woodland gardens and waterside plantings.
  • Good companions for Brunnera include Bergenia, Doronicum, Geum, Thalictrum, Trollius.

When to Plant Brunnera

  • Set Brunnera outdoors in spring or autumn.
Siberian bugloss, Brunnera macrophylla
Siberian bugloss, Brunnera macrophylla

Planting and Spacing Brunnera

  • Space Brunnera 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) apart.

How to Water and Feed Brunnera

  • Keep the soil evenly moist for best flowering.
  • Fertilize Brunnera with an all-purpose fertilizer in spring.

Brunnera Care

  • Remove faded flowers and foliage.
  • Avoid disturbing the roots.

Brunnera Pests and Diseases

  • Brunnera is usually pest free.

Brunnera Propagation

  • Brunnera freely self-sows once established.
  • Brunnera seeds germinate in 4 to 12 weeks at 60°F (16°C). Seeds can be difficult to germinate; freeze them before sowing.
  • Divide clumps in autumn.
  • Take root cuttings in late winter or early spring.

Brunnera Varieties to Grow

There are three species in the genus only the following is planted in gardens:

  • Brunnera macrophylla, Siberian bugloss: Grow 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) tall and wide; 6 to 8 inch long coarse, heart-shaped leaves; bears clusters of tiny blue flowers in mid to late spring; ‘Dawson’s White’ has creamy leaf edges. ‘Langrees’ has silver spotted leaves.

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