Borage

Borago officinalis

Starflower, Bee Bush, Bee Bread, Tailwort, Komkommerkruid, Vreugdekruid (Afr.)

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Borago officinalis is commonly known as Borage, it is a pretty, coarsely hairy, herbaceous annual plant from the Boraginaceae family that has a variety of uses, both culinary and medicinal. The leaves and star-shaped flowers are both 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. This species is part of the Royal Horticultural Society “Plants for Pollinators” initiative to showcase plants which support pollinator populations by providing ample amounts of nectar and/ or pollen. A great choice for encouraging pollinating insect wildlife into your garden!
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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.

Attractive flowers

Attracts bees

Special features

Origin

Western Mediterranean, Syria

Natural climate

Warm to temperate

Environment

Light

Full Sun, Partial Shade, 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

Purple, Pink, Blue

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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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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