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Brunnera Macrophylla Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Siberian Bugloss”

Our Guide to Brunnera Macrophylla - Everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing and caring for “Siberian Bugloss”
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Want to enrich your plant family with a one-of-a-kind ornamental plant this year? Well, this is your chance to become more familiar with your future best friend! Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the irresistible Brunnera macrophylla a.k.a. Siberian bugloss including how to plant, water, and propagate it.

Brunnera macrophylla is an absolutely adorable and low-demanding species of flowering plants in the Boraginaceae family. In cultivation, this flower goes by many common names, such as the Siberian bugloss, Large-leaf brunnera, False forget-me-not, or Heartleaf. It is native to several regions of Eastern Europe and Asia.

It is safe to say that every respectable gardener should have at least one Siberian bugloss in his or her collection. These plants come along with numerous varieties to choose from, but some of them are more eye-catching than others. The most popular cultivars include ‘Alexander’s Great’, ‘Diane’s Gold’, ‘Hadspen Cream’, ‘Jack Frost’, ‘Langtress’, ‘Looking Glass’, ‘Silver Charm’, and ‘Variegata’.

About Brunnera Macrophylla

  • Although all Brunnera macrophylla varieties deserve recognition, only the variegated cultivars ‘Jack Frost’ and ‘Hadspen Cream’ have gained the prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
  • Based on the latest chromosomal genetic evidence, some believe that Siberian bugloss plants may reflect the ancient flora of the forests around the Black Sea.
  • Siberian bugloss plants belong to the Brunnera genus that contains exactly 3 accepted species of flowering plants. They are the key species of this genus. The other two species are Brunnera orientalis and Brunnera sibirica.
  • These flowers are pretty versatile and can bring to life any dull spot from your garden or home. They make for excellent additions to woodland gardens, beds, borders, naturalized areas, ponds, streams, or containers. They are also great ground covers.
  • Some people use the roots of Siberian bugloss to make a natural red dye. Their roots, leaves, and flowers can also serve as a tasty food source. They are not poisonous to either humans or animals.
  • Brunnera macrophylla plants play a big part in traditional medicine thanks to their herbal properties. Many folks used them as a treatment against issues like inflammation, phlebitis, cuts, bruises, coughs, and bronchitis.
  • All Brunnera cultivars can be wonderful companions to other nice-looking species of plants, such as Carex ‘Aurea’, Daffodils, Epimedium, Euphorbia, Fern, Great Masterwort, Hellebore, Heuchera, Hostas, Lily of the Valley, Sneezeweed, or Tulip.
Brunnera Macrophylla
Brunnera Macrophylla

Brunnera Macrophylla Features: An Overview

  • Siberian bugloss plants are hardy herbaceous perennials that can reach from 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm) in height and 2 to 3 feet (60-90 cm) in width.
  • Brunnera macrophylla plants emerge from rhizomes that can store water. They have a tidy, clump-forming overall growth and come with a relatively slow growth pace.
  • Their foliage consists of simple, rough, hairy, and heart-shaped leaves at the base with smaller, elliptic upper leaves. The large basal leaves measure about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter and display several shades of green, silver, or yellow.
  • The leaves of Siberian bugloss plants grow on slender stems and remain attractive throughout their growing season. In general, they also have cream or white markings, exhibiting a showy and hypnotic variegated pattern.
  • Brunnera macrophylla plants usually bloom for eight to ten weeks, starting in early to mid-spring. During this period, they produce airy, branched racemes that rise elegantly above the foliage and contain sprays of star-shaped blossoms.
  • Their delicate flowers have a white centre and five petals that can appear in various tints of bright blue. They look very similar to those of the related Forget-me-not plants.
  • Once their blooming period has come to an end, typically in summer, Siberian bugloss plants bear dry and brown fruits called schizocarps. When ripe, their fruits split into many single-seeded parts.

Growing Brunnera Macrophylla

What makes Brunnera macrophylla plants one of our favourite ornamentals is their ability to adapt to a wide diversity of environmental and growing conditions. In fewer words, these flowers are very easy to deal with in the long term. Once you understand their particular demands, you will have these friendly companions by your side for as long as you secretly dream of.

Siberian bugloss plants usually grow at their best in shady locations. They can also do just fine in full sunlight if you provide them with lots of moisture. Prolonged periods of direct light exposure, however, can burn the variegated leaves of your plants. Likewise, extremely sunny conditions may cause these plants to go dormant when it is not necessarily their time.

In terms of temperatures, Siberian bugloss plants are typically winter hardy in the USDA zones 3 to 8. Still, these buddies will perform best in those regions with cool summers and average temperatures of 50 to 60 °F (10-15 °C) all year round. In areas with hot and humid summer months, it is wise to grow your plants in partial to full shade or indoors if possible.

Although Siberian bugloss plants do not encounter many pest problems, aphids or slugs can bother them from time to time. If the intruders are left to their own devices, the problem may get out of control and will also affect the overall health of your plants. In case of infestation, you must handpick the pests and apply neem oil or insecticidal soap to prevent any future visits.

Brunnera macrophylla, Live Plant, From Amazon

Planting Brunnera Macrophylla

Brunnera macrophylla plants will grow in almost any type of soil as long as it is rich in humus and nutrients. Young specimens will benefit from supplemental organic matter and mulch, helping them become established faster and grow at their best. These flowers cannot tolerate dry soils but will thrive in substrates that come with excellent drainage.

If you manage to plant your Siberian bugloss companions in rich soil, your work here is done! As long as their growing medium is neither dry nor too poor, these plants do not need additional fertilizing. For plants grown in poor soils, however, you should apply an organic liquid fertilizer twice every year in spring and summer.

During their active growing period, usually in spring, regular pruning can help your plants look fresh and tidy. All you have to do is trim the older leaves off to make room for new, healthy growth to emerge. Make sure you do not cut your plants back to the ground level in the autumn because their leaves will protect the crowns throughout the winter.

Siberian bugloss plants have a tendency to self-seed, becoming pretty invasive in their surroundings. You can prevent this from happening by deadheading their blossoms once they begin to fade. Deadheading is also a nice method to promote new flowering during their blooming season.

Watering Brunnera Macrophylla

The only time you have to worry about how often you should water your Brunnera macrophylla plants is during their first year of growth. In general, young specimens require more water than those mature and established ones. Because of this, we recommend you water your new plants regularly to maintain their soil constantly damp.

Once these flowers have settled in their new environment, they become fairly tolerant of drought for long periods. However, this does not mean that you should absolutely forget about your plants! They are big lovers of moisture, thus will benefit from a nice drink whenever their top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch.

Siberian Bugloss leaves
Siberian Bugloss leaves

Propagating Brunnera Macrophylla

Not enough Brunnera macrophylla specimens to fill your garden with? Say no more! You can have more of these gorgeous flowers by propagating them through division or seeds. Now bring your courage, some nice gardening tools, and let’s get the job done!

The easiest and quickest method to propagate your Siberian bugloss plants is division. Due to their short-lived nature, the division is also a good way to keep them around for a longer time. It is best to repeat this process once every three to five years in early spring.

First things first, you should simply dig up as many established clumps as you want. Secondly, divide the rhizomes into healthy sections and transplant them into their new spots. See? Nothing too difficult or out of the ordinary. But do not forget about your friends or family members, because all of them surely want one superb baby plant for themselves!

Even if Siberian bugloss plants self-seed with no effort on your part, the seedlings usually do not grow true to the parent. But this should not stop you from having a little fun once in a while! Especially when the rewards can always come with pleasant surprises.

If you would like to collect the seeds, you must first remove the nearly-dried flowers from your plants. After this process, allow the blossoms to dry completely in a paper bag. The seeds will generally fall off by themselves once the flowers dry. From now on, all you have to do is sowing the seeds in fresh soil and give them several months to develop into healthy seedlings.

In Conclusion

Cute, easy-going, and everlasting – the perfect combination that always wins the heart of every gardener out there in one way or another! Siberian bugloss plants are hard to resist once you get to know them better. Take a leap of faith and do not hesitate to share your exciting experience with us in the comment section!

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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