Consider Adding Borage To Your Garden


Borage in bloom

Borage is a plant I like to have in my gardens. Not just because it can be eaten, (which it can) or used for medicinal purposes (which it also can), but because it works wonderfully at attracting beneficial insects and at adding nutrients back into the garden.

Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual that can either be directly sown outdoors in late spring or started earlier indoors and then transplanted. If you wish to have borage in a certain location in your garden, it is best to start it indoors and then transplant. The plant has a long taproot and is best sown in a fiber pot, which can then be placed directly into the ground as the seedling matures. Borage likes full sun to part shade and has no special soil needs. It is a resilient plant and can withstand either extended wet or dry periods. A mature plant is rather bushy, so take into account its mature height (3 ft) and spread (2ft) when planning its future location. It’s growth habit also makes it susceptible to being blown over by the wind.

Although an annual, borage will readily reseed itself. Each year I have a handful of volunteer seedlings that pop up throughout my gardens. I tend to leave only one or two to grow where they wish so long as they are not in an inconvenient location. The others I pull up and add to the compost pile. Because it proficiently reseeds itself, you may find you need to only introduce borage to your garden once.

Borage for Beneficial Insects

 The blossoms of borage protrude above its large leaves and are easy for pollinators to spot. The blue, star-shaped flowers continue blooming throughout the summer, providing a continuous source of nectar for pollinators. Bees in particular visit borage often because they find the blue hue particularly attractive. Borage has the nickname of bee plant and is placed in pollinator gardens. It works well as a companion plant to strawberries, tomatoes, and squashes. It can grow up to 3 feet in height and its tempting blue blossoms dangle above its companions, luring pollinators to itself and its neighboring plants.

Predatory insects are also drawn to borage. The large, oval-shaped leaves have a fuzzy coating and are excellent locations for these insects to hide. Lacewings will choose it as a host for their eggs. In contrast, the insects we consider pests in our gardens tend to be repelled by borage. Deer don’t like borage either - too fuzzy.

Edible Borage

 The leaves and flowers both have a light cucumber flavour. The flowers are delicious eaten raw in salads, frozen into ice cubes, candied as decorations for cakes, and used anywhere a cucumber flavour is desired. The fresh leaves also make a refreshing tea when combined with honey and lemon. Blossoms can be harvested throughout the summer. The leaves are best eaten young, prior to developing their fuzziness and can also be eaten raw in salads.

8/24/2018 10:21:26 AM

Borage is useful, but it is also considered an invasive species.

8/14/2018 10:33:13 PM

I agree with Dianne8's comment - I had the same experience.

8/11/2018 7:42:37 PM

The bees love borage, but beware, Borage self-seeds so readily that it will take over your herb garden, then your flower beds, orchard, animal pens, fence lines, etc. It is easy to pull out when young, but requires eternal vigilance. Four years ago, I planted a few seeds in about one square foot of herb bed and have been pulling it from everywhere for ever more. It is good for the bees so I let it grow in a few spots in the fence row, but I find it everywhere and have been pulling it for the last three years. It shows up in the barkdust over weed-cloth, in the gravel over highway cloth driveway, other places you wouldn't expect it to survive. It is difficult to pull when full-grown.

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