Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera Macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’)

Plant: Table of Contents

Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’)

Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’) is a delicate and striking perennial plant that is prized for its stunning silver-leaved foliage and delicate blue flowers. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about this captivating plant, from its cultural requirements and uses to its common pests and diseases. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a novice plant enthusiast, this article will provide valuable insights into the care and cultivation of Siberian bugloss, allowing you to make the most of this beautiful plant in your garden.

What is Plant: Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’)

Siberian bugloss, also known as Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’, is a herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the family Boraginaceae. Native to the woodlands of Eastern Europe, Siberian bugloss is renowned for its striking foliage and delicate flowers, making it a popular choice for shaded gardens and woodland landscapes.

The ‘Looking Glass’ variety of Brunnera macrophylla is particularly prized for its large, heart-shaped leaves that are heavily veined with silver, giving the plant a shimmering, ethereal appearance. In the spring, Siberian bugloss produces clusters of tiny, sky-blue flowers that rise above the foliage, creating a beautiful contrast against the silver leaves.

Key Takeaways – Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’)

Before delving into the specifics of caring for Siberian bugloss, let’s take a moment to highlight some key takeaways about this enchanting plant:

  • Botanical Name: Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’
  • Common Name: Siberian Bugloss
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial
  • Foliage: Silver-veined, heart-shaped leaves
  • Flowers: Delicate clusters of sky-blue flowers
  • Growth Habit: Clumping, low-growing
  • Preferred Growing Conditions: Shade to partial shade, moist, well-drained soil

Now that we have an overview of what Siberian bugloss has to offer, let’s dive into the specific cultural requirements, uses, and care tips for this extraordinary plant.


Cultivating Siberian bugloss successfully requires an understanding of its preferred growing conditions, including water, sunlight, soil, and fertilizer requirements. Let’s explore each of these factors in detail:


Siberian bugloss prefers consistently moist soil, particularly during the growing season. While it can tolerate short periods of drought, prolonged dryness can cause the foliage to wilt and detract from the plant’s overall appearance. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the soil remains evenly moist, especially in warmer climates or during dry spells.

One effective method to maintain soil moisture is to apply a layer of organic mulch, such as compost or shredded bark, around the base of the plant. Mulching not only helps retain soil moisture but also aids in suppressing weed growth and insulating the roots during temperature fluctuations.


As a shade-tolerant plant, Siberian bugloss thrives in partial to full shade, making it an excellent choice for woodland gardens, shaded borders, and areas with dappled sunlight. In hot climates, providing the plant with morning sun and afternoon shade can help prevent the foliage from scorching while still allowing it to receive sufficient light for healthy growth.

However, it is important to note that excessive exposure to direct sunlight can lead to leaf burn and diminished vigor in Siberian bugloss. Therefore, it is advisable to plant it in locations where it can enjoy filtered light and protection from the intense midday sun.


When it comes to soil preferences, Siberian bugloss flourishes in rich, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH range. Amending the planting area with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted leaf mold, can greatly enhance the soil’s structure and fertility, providing an ideal growing environment for the plant.

Furthermore, the addition of organic matter can improve moisture retention and aeration, promoting healthy root development and overall plant growth. Prior to planting Siberian bugloss, perform a soil test to assess the pH and nutrient levels, and make any necessary adjustments to create an optimal growing substrate for the plant.


Siberian bugloss is not particularly heavy feeder, and excessive fertilization can result in lush foliage at the expense of flower production. To maintain a balance between vigorous growth and prolific blooming, it is best to apply a low-nitrogen, well-balanced fertilizer in early spring, when the plant is beginning its active growth phase.

Choosing a slow-release fertilizer with a formulation such as 10-10-10 or 5-10-5 can provide Siberian bugloss with essential nutrients without stimulating excessive vegetative growth. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations, apply the fertilizer around the base of the plant, taking care to avoid direct contact with the foliage to prevent potential burning.


Siberian bugloss offers versatile uses in the landscape, ranging from ground cover and border plantings to container gardens and woodland landscapes. Its striking foliage and delicate flowers make it an ideal choice for adding visual interest and texture to shaded areas, creating captivating combinations with other shade-loving plants.

Landscape Planting

In garden settings, Siberian bugloss can be used to great effect as a ground cover or edging plant, where its low-growing habit and captivating foliage can form a lush carpet of silver and green. When planted in mass, the plant can create a serene and enchanting atmosphere, particularly beneath trees or alongside pathways where its silvery leaves can catch the dappled light.

Moreover, Siberian bugloss can be paired with spring-blooming bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, to provide a striking contrast between the delicate blue flowers of the bugloss and the vibrant hues of the bulbs, creating a harmonious display in the early spring garden.

Container Gardening

Due to its compact growth habit and low-maintenance nature, Siberian bugloss is well-suited for container gardening, especially in shaded patios, balconies, or outdoor seating areas. When grown in containers, this plant can serve as a focal point in shaded landscapes, adding subtle elegance and visual interest to outdoor living spaces.

To create an eye-catching container display, consider planting Siberian bugloss alongside shade-loving companions such as ferns, hostas, and heucheras, which can complement its silver foliage and contribute to a cohesive, woodland-inspired arrangement.

Woodland Landscapes

Given its natural affinity for shaded, woodland environments, Siberian bugloss integrates seamlessly into woodland landscapes, where it can thrive under the canopy of deciduous trees and alongside native woodland plants. The plant’s silver-leaved foliage can illuminate shaded areas, while its delicate, blue flowers provide a touch of color and charm in the early spring garden.

In addition to its ornamental value, Siberian bugloss can contribute to the ecological integrity of woodland habitats by providing nectar for pollinators and shelter for small wildlife. Its low-maintenance nature and adaptability to shaded environments make it a valuable addition to naturalistic woodland gardens and restoration projects.


Pruning Siberian bugloss is generally minimal, as the plant maintains an attractive appearance with minimal intervention. However, removal of spent flower stalks and any damaged or declining foliage can help maintain the plant’s vigor and aesthetic appeal.

To encourage a neat and tidy appearance, deadhead the faded flower clusters as they finish blooming, preventing the plant from expending unnecessary energy on seed production. Additionally, if any leaves show signs of disease or damage, it is advisable to trim them back to promote healthy new growth and minimize the risk of pest infestations.

In late winter or early spring, prior to the emergence of new growth, consider cutting back any remaining tattered or frost-damaged foliage to allow the fresh leaves to unfurl without obstruction. This rejuvenation pruning can also help revitalize the plant and promote a healthy, compact growth habit for the upcoming growing season.


Siberian bugloss can be propagated through division or by collecting and sowing its seeds. Both methods are relatively straightforward and can be performed in early spring or fall, allowing gardeners to expand their plantings or share the beauty of Siberian bugloss with others.


Dividing established Siberian bugloss plants is an effective way to create new specimens and rejuvenate existing clumps. To divide the plant, carefully dig up the entire root ball, and using a sharp knife or spade, divide it into smaller sections, ensuring that each division has a sufficient number of healthy roots and leafy shoots.

Once divided, replant the sections into prepared soil, water them thoroughly, and provide appropriate care to facilitate their establishment. Division is best performed in spring or fall when the plant is not actively flowering, enabling the freshly divided sections to settle in and acclimate to their new growing environment.

Seed Propagation

Collecting and sowing the seeds of Siberian bugloss can be an enjoyable and rewarding way to propagate new plants. As the plant’s blooms fade, small, rounded seeds will develop within the spent flower clusters. Allow the seeds to ripen and dry on the plant, then collect them and store them in a cool, dry location until you are ready to sow them.

Sow the seeds in a well-prepared seed-starting mix or directly into the garden soil in early spring or fall, lightly covering them with a thin layer of soil. Keep the growing medium consistently moist and provide the seeds with indirect light until they germinate, at which point they can be transitioned to a shaded, outdoor location.

Container Popularity

The compact size and ornamental appeal of Siberian bugloss make it a popular choice for container gardening, where it can thrive in shaded patio containers, ornamental pots, or mixed border displays. When grown in containers, Siberian bugloss can serve as a graceful accent or focal point, lending a touch of elegance and tranquility to outdoor living spaces.

Cultivation in Containers

To successfully grow Siberian bugloss in containers, select a spacious container with adequate drainage holes, allowing excess water to escape and prevent waterlogged conditions. Use a high-quality, well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter and provides a balanced environment for healthy root development and overall plant growth.

Place the container in a shaded or partly shaded location, where the plant can receive ample natural light without being exposed to direct, intense sunlight. Regular watering is essential for container-grown Siberian bugloss, as potted plants tend to dry out more quickly than their ground-planted counterparts, particularly during warm weather.

Designing Container Gardens with Siberian Bugloss

In container gardens, Siberian bugloss can be beautifully combined with a variety of shade-loving plants, including ferns, hostas, heucheras, and tiarellas, to create visually appealing compositions with contrasting leaf shapes, textures, and colors. Consider incorporating trailing or cascading plants, such as ivy or creeping jenny, to add depth and movement to the container arrangement.

Furthermore, the silver-flecked foliage of Siberian bugloss can harmonize with the silvery tones of other shade-loving plants, enhancing the overall cohesion and elegance of the container display. By selecting complementary plant partners and designing imaginative container arrangements, gardeners can showcase the unique beauty of Siberian bugloss in a captivating and stylish manner.

Common Diseases

While Siberian bugloss is generally resistant to most serious diseases, it can be susceptible to certain common fungal infections and leaf spot diseases, particularly in conditions of poor air circulation or excessive moisture. Understanding these potential diseases and implementing preventive measures can help protect the plant and maintain its health and vitality.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that often affects the leaves of Siberian bugloss, resulting in the development of a powdery, white or grayish coating on the foliage. This disease typically thrives in humid, stagnant environments and can spread rapidly in crowded plantings or during periods of high humidity.

To prevent powdery mildew, ensure that the planting area has good air circulation and avoid overcrowding the plants. Additionally, watering the soil at the base of the plant, rather than overhead, can help reduce humidity levels around the foliage, minimizing favorable conditions for powdery mildew development.

Leaf Spot Diseases

Several types of leaf spot diseases, caused by various fungal pathogens, can affect the leaves of Siberian bugloss, leading to the formation of dark, circular lesions or spots on the foliage. These diseases are often favored by prolonged leaf wetness and can spread through splashing water, rain, or overhead irrigation.

To mitigate the risk of leaf spot diseases, water the plant at the base to keep the foliage dry and provide ample space between plants to promote air circulation. Removing and disposing of any infected leaves or plant debris can help prevent the spread of the disease and maintain the plant’s overall health.

Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosing diseases in Siberian bugloss involves careful observation of the plant’s foliage, stems, and overall appearance for any signs of abnormal discoloration, lesions, or fungal growth. If any unusual symptoms are detected, it is recommended to consult with a local extension office, a professional horticulturist, or a plant health specialist to accurately diagnose the issue and determine the most effective course of action.

By promptly identifying and addressing potential diseases, gardeners can safeguard their Siberian bugloss plants and take proactive measures to prevent the spread of diseases to other nearby plants in the garden.

Common Pests

Siberian bugloss is relatively resistant to pest infestations, particularly due to its natural repellent properties and unpalatable foliage. However, certain pests may still pose a threat to the plant, particularly in conditions of stress or environmental imbalance. Let’s explore some of the common pests that may affect Siberian bugloss and the methods for managing them effectively.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are among the primary pests that can damage the foliage of Siberian bugloss, particularly in moist, shaded environments where these creatures thrive. Their feeding activity can result in ragged, irregular holes in the leaves, detracting from the plant’s aesthetic appeal and potentially compromising its vigor.

To deter slugs and snails, consider employing physical barriers, such as copper tape or diatomaceous earth, around the base of the plant to prevent these pests from reaching the foliage. Additionally, handpicking and removing slugs and snails manually can help reduce their populations and protect Siberian bugloss from their damaging effects.

Vine Weevils

Vine weevils, particularly the larvae stage, can pose a threat to the roots of Siberian bugloss, potentially leading to reduced vigor, yellowing foliage, and overall decline in the plant’s health. When infested with vine weevil larvae, the plant may exhibit signs of stress and diminished growth, signaling the presence of these underground pests.

To manage vine weevils, consider using biological control agents, such as beneficial nematodes, that specifically target the larvae in the soil. Additionally, inspecting the roots and soil for any signs of feeding damage or adult weevils can aid in early detection and intervention, preventing serious infestations and minimizing the impact on Siberian bugloss plants.

Botanist’s Tips

As a plant scientist, I have had the privilege of studying and working with a wide variety of plant species, and Siberian bugloss has consistently captivated me with its unique characteristics and ornamental value. To cultivate Siberian bugloss successfully and appreciate its full potential in the landscape, consider the following botanist’s tips:

  1. Shaded Environments: Selecting suitable locations with partial to full shade is essential for the optimal growth and success of Siberian bugloss. Avoid planting it in areas with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, as this can lead to leaf burn and reduced vigor.

  2. Moisture Management: Maintaining adequate soil moisture is crucial for the health and vitality of Siberian bugloss, particularly during warm weather or extended periods of dryness. Regular monitoring of soil moisture levels and implementing proper watering techniques can significantly benefit the plant’s overall performance.

  3. Seasonal Care: During the spring, take note of the delicate blue flowers that adorn Siberian bugloss, providing an enchanting display in shaded gardens. After blooming, deadheading spent flowers and providing light pruning can help maintain the plant’s appearance and encourage healthy growth.

  4. Companion Planting: When designing garden compositions with Siberian bugloss, consider incorporating complementary shade-loving plants, such as hostas, ferns, and heucheras, to create visually appealing combinations and enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the landscape.

  5. Pest Vigilance: While Siberian bugloss is relatively resistant to pests, it is important to remain vigilant for any signs of pest infestations, particularly slugs, snails, and vine weevils. Prompt detection and targeted management can help safeguard the plant and prevent potential damage.

Fun Facts

To enrich your understanding of Siberian bugloss and appreciate its appeal even further, here are some engaging and insightful fun facts about this exceptional plant:

  • Foliage Interest: The silver-veined leaves of Siberian bugloss are reminiscent of the enchanting patterns found in the natural world, adding a touch of elegance and fascination to shaded landscapes.

  • Deer Resistance: Siberian bugloss is known for its deer-resistant properties, making it a valuable addition to gardens and landscapes where deer browsing can pose a significant challenge to plant survival.

  • Low-Maintenance Charm: With its low-maintenance nature and minimal care requirements, Siberian bugloss offers an effortless way to introduce stunning foliage and delicate flowers into shaded areas.

  • Drought Tolerance: While Siberian bugloss prefers moist soil, it exhibits a degree of drought tolerance once established, making it adaptable to varying moisture conditions in the garden.

  • Ornamental Elegance: The ornamental value of Siberian bugloss extends beyond its flowering season, as the shimmering silver leaves continue to impart visual interest and allure throughout the growing season.

Links to External Resources

For further exploration of Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’) and related topics, I recommend visiting the following external resources:

  1. Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) – Siberian Bugloss
  2. Missouri Botanical Garden – Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’
  3. University of Maryland Extension – Shade Gardening
  4. American Horticultural Society – Growing Perennials
  5. The American Phytopathological Society – Fungal Diseases of Plants

By accessing these valuable resources, you can gain additional insights into the care, cultivation, and ornamental uses of Siberian bugloss, as well as further your knowledge of related gardening and plant health topics.

In conclusion, Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’) stands out as an exceptional perennial plant, offering not only captivating silver-leaved foliage and delicate blue flowers but also resilience, adaptability, and ornamental elegance. By understanding its cultural requirements, uses, and potential challenges, you can cultivate Siber

Picture of Peter Taylors

Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.