Brunnera Information – Care and Maintenance

Basic information about Brunnera.  Includes Origin, Growing & Cultivation, Common Pests & Diseases, Interesting Facts & Uses,  and Garden Design Tips.

Brunnera Origin

brunnera Jack Frost 8bThe botanical name, Brunnera, was given to honor the discoverer of this plant, Samuel Brunner, a Swiss botanist in the 1800s.

Brunnera has 2 common names, False Forget-me-not (it is related to the true forget-me-not, and the flowers are similar) and Siberian Bugloss (the genus Brunnera is placed in the Bugloss (Boraginaceae) family).

This plant is native to the Caucasus region.

Growing and Cultivation

brunnera Looking Glass 6b (1)Brunnera prefers partial shade and consistently moist, neutral to slightly acid soils.  While it doesn’t like to have ‘wet feet’, it will quickly fade out and die or go dormant in dry, hot conditions.  May go summer dormant even in shade if soil is too dry.  The variety ‘Jack Frost’ is the most heat and humidity tolerant.

Common Pests and Diseases

Brunnera is fairly pest and disease resistant.  The only pest it is susceptible to sometimes is foliar nematodes.

The syptoms generally appear in midsummer and present as triangular brownish-black blotches between veins of the leaves; they can become dry and burned-looking.  To diagnose, you can pick a few leaves, shred them and put them in a jar full of room-temperature water for 12-24 hours.  If present, nematodes will exit the leaves and show up in the water and can be seen with a microscope.  They’ll look like tiny translucent roundworms swimming around.  Since they feed inside leaves, it is difficult to treat.  They can spread to nearby plants, so it is recommended to dig up and destroy any infected plants (do NOT put on a compost pile!).

This plant is both deer and rabbit-resistant; they prefer not to eat it.

Interesting Facts and Uses

brunnera Alexanders Great 1bThe flowers are similar to forget-me-nots and attract butterflies and bees, making this a good addition to pollinator-friendly gardens.

The straight species, Brunnera macrophylla, as well as the variety ‘Jack Frost’ have received the UK Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ was also chosen by the Perennial Plant Association to be their Perennial Plant of the Year in 2012.

Garden Design Tips

brunnera Looking Glass 1b (1)Brunnera is a stunning addition to a shade garden; its large-leaved, often heavily silvered foliage complements a wide variety of other more delicate shade perennials – ferns, Astilbe, bleeding heart, Heuchera, carex, and helleborus all look lovely.  This plant can also be a great addition around water features and can be used with planting of spring bulbs like daffodils.  Often used in place of or in addition to Hostas in places heavily frequented by deer.


To purchase Brunnera varieties, please visit our Shade Companion Plants Page.