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Borage

Borago officinalis

Starflower, Bee bush, Bee bread, Tailwort (Eng.), Komkommerkruid, Vreugdekruid (Afr.)

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Borage is a pretty herb that has a variety of uses, both culinary and medicinal. Both the leaves and pretty star-shaped flowers are edible and taste of cucumber and honey respectively. This plant also deters hornworms from laying eggs on tomatoes, making them a great companion plant. Borage is great for beginner gardeners and those that like low maintenance gardens. Borage was once used to flavour wine and was historically used to give men courage.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Summer, Spring
Fruiting time
Summer

Harvesting

Harvest leaves throughout the year and flowers during the summer and autumn, preferably in the morning. Borage should only be used fresh, as it loses its flavour once dried. Leave flowers to self-seed after flowering.

Propagation

Seed
The flowers can be cut at the stalks and put into dry paper bags to help them dry out over a couple of weeks. When the flower heads are completely dry, shake the bag to release the seeds from the heads and remove the dead flowers. Sow seeds shallowly in spring or summer. Germination takes 7-10 days.
Division
Divide rootstocks in spring.
Cuttings
Plant shoot cuttings in summer or autumn in sandy soil in a cold frame.

Special features

Attracts useful insects
Known to attract bees.
Crop rotation
Borage is a light feeder and plants do not need a lot of nutrients.
Repels harmful insects
Repel hornworms.

Geography

Origin
Western Mediterranean, Syria
Natural climate
Warm to temperate

Environment

Light
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Hardy

Uses

Notes
Culinary, medicinal, compost improver

Personality

Family
Boraginaceae
Flower colour
Blue, purple, pink or white (rare).
Scent
Mild

Problems

Foliage may be damaged by slugs, leaf-mining flies or affected by powdery mildew. Overall pest and disease resistant.

Companion plants

Strawberries, eggplant, tomatoes, gourds, cucumber

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