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Heartleaf Brunnera

Brunnera macrophylla

Low-growing heartleaf brunnera boasts clouds of sky blue flowers from early to midspring that look just like forget-me-nots (hence the nickname false forget-me-not”). This plant is also grown for its striking heart-shape green foliage that when silvered is almost iridescent in the right light. As an added bonus, the foliage is so hairy that it’s avoided by deer and rabbits.

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Light:

Part Sun, Shade

Type:

Height:

1 to 3 feet

Width:

12 to 30 inches

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

3-8

Propagation

garden plans for Heart-leaf brunnera

Colorful Combinations

Heartleaf brunnera's blue blossoms and shapely, often variegated leaves make this plant a favorite in the shade garden. Choose a standard brunnera for its handsome solid green leaves that partner well with other more brightly hued plants. Or seek out a variety with variegated foliage to add color and pattern beneath the canopy of other taller plants, shrubs, or trees. The leaves of 'Dawson's White' are grayish green with creamy white borders. The leaves of 'Hadspen Cream' boast creamy yellow margins. 'Diane's Gold' features early leaves of gold that change to chartreuse. Since the introduction of 'Jack Frost' in the early 2000s, shimmering heavily silvered green leaves have become a popular option to explore. All of these leaf forms make stunning backdrops to brunnera's dainty blue or white blossoms in spring.

See more of the best silver-leaf plants for your garden.

Heartleaf Brunnera Care Must-Knows

Heartleaf brunnera adds color and interest to the landscape with little effort—as long as you meet its needs in the beginning. Plant brunnera in a shady spot with organically rich, well-drained, evenly moist (but not soggy) soil. When grown in a cool, shady environment, brunnera can tolerate occasional droughts as long as it receives supplemental waterings during the extended ones. (Silver-leaf varieties handle heat and humidity better than specimens with leaves of other colors.) Promptly remove unsightly foliage and spent flower heads to maintain a plant's good looks. Cut back badly damaged plants to encourage regrowth and improve their health overall. In ideal soil conditions, heartleaf brunnera will spread very slowly via underground rhizomes to create large clumps of plants—in a similar fashion to hosta. 

Brunnera's tolerance to sun exposure varies depending on leaf type and color. Some varieties—such as the above-mentioned 'Dawson's White'—benefit from some morning sun that promotes colorful foliage and a greater number of flowers. Some silver and gold varieties lose a little luster in full shade, taking on more of a green appearance. In cooler climates some varieties (especially green ones) can thrive in full sun as long as they are well watered. Brunnera may struggle in regions with hot, humid summers. In other words, pay attention to the variety or cultivar, and site accordingly.

Try our favorite spring-blooming woodland flowers in your landscaping.

New Innovations

Brunnera's popularity has taken off with the introduction of silvered varieties like 'Jack Frost' that gleam in the shade and resist scorching in sunny locations. Plants in the pipeline include new compact varieties that look great in containers.

More Varieties Of Heartleaf Brunnera

'Jack Frost' Brunnera

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' offers 3- to 5-inch-wide silver leaves with narrow green edges and veins. It is more heat tolerant than other heart-leaf brunneras. Zones 3-8.

'Looking Glass' Brunnera

This variety of Brunnera macrophylla is silver all over with leaves that cup downward. The silver foliage makes its blue flowers stand out. Zones 3-8.

Variegated Brunnera

Brunnera macrophylla 'Variegata' develops bold splashes of white edging on its leaves, which make its forget-me-not blue flowers appear to float on clouds. Zones 3-8.

Plant Heartleaf Brunnera With:

Bleeding heart
It's easy to see the origin of bleeding heart's common name when you get a look at its heart-shape pink or white blooms with a protruding tip at the base of the heart. They grow best in partial to full shade in moist, well-drained soil. Some types bloom only in spring and others bloom spring, summer, and fall, provided temperatures aren't too high.
Primrose
Take a walk down the primrose path and you'll never look back! Primroses are a classic cottage flower and are popular with collectors. They covet the hundreds of different primroses available, especially some of the tiny rare alpine types.Many are staples of cottage gardens and rock gardens, while others provide spring color to damp places, rain gardens, and bog gardens. Their basal rosettes of oval leaves are often puckered or are very smooth. The colorful flowers may be borne singly or rise in tiered clusters, or even spikes. Provide humus-high soil that retains moisture and some shade for best results.
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