Growing Borage: Edible Pollinator-Friendly Plant

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Borage is without doubt one of the most satisfying and best annuals to develop, and essential for anybody focused on pure, cottage, or potager model gardening.  I’ve been rising borage for extra years than I can bear in mind, however I’ve solely ever sown it as soon as!  This lovely herb with its vibrant blue flowers repays me yearly with an abundance of self-seeded borage crops to develop for one more 12 months.  They are a transparent sign that spring has arrived and summer time is on its method. 

This 12 months my allotment has been redesigned and cleared to include a bigger reduce flower backyard and I’ve but to see a bit of borage child.  So, it is extremely apt that I get to share my expertise, information, and pleasure that comes with rising borage as I embark on sowing borage seeds for the second time.

Borage, often known as ‘starflower’, is an upright, bushy annual herb with enticing brilliant blue star-shaped flowers that stands out in any backyard.  Bees and butterflies love borage! Plants will be seen buzzing with bees all summer time lengthy.  Predatory bugs reminiscent of hoverflies and wasps additionally like to feast on the nectar of the borage flower making it an excellent companion plant within the vegetable backyard.

The flowers of the borage plant have a refined taste of cucumber and make an ideal garnish for salads or candied decorations for desserts; however when you actually need to impress your company, strive freezing flowers in ice cubes and including them to chill summer time drinks.

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Quick Care Guide

Growing borage gives a wealth of gorgeous blue star-shaped flowers, and it’s edible too! Source: pstenzel71
Common Name(s) Borage, bugloss, starflower, bee bush, bee bread
Scientific Name Borago officinalis
Days to Harvest Approximately 56 days to reap
Light Full solar to partial shade
Water Drought tolerant
Soil Well-drained, sandy, loam, or clay soils
Fertilizer Not crucial
Pests Black fly aphid
Diseases Powdery mildew

All About Borage

Field of borage
In a big planting, the flowers give a blue sheen to a area. Source: franklin_hunting

Borage, additionally generally generally known as bugloss and starflower, is a member of the Boraginaceae household of crops together with comfrey, forget-me-not, and alkanet.  Its botanical identify is Borago officinalis, the time period ‘officinalis’ indicating its use as a medicinal herb.  Borage originates within the Mediterranean and has been used since historical Greek and Roman instances for a mess of medicinal functions together with as an anti-inflammatory and a therapy for pores and skin circumstances reminiscent of dermatitis. Starflower oil produced from borage seeds is excessive in Gamma Lineolenic Acid, additionally known as GLA, and is a standard dietary complement for girls of all ages.  As will all medicines it’s best to seek the advice of with a health care provider to find out if they’re best for you.  Caution must also be used when consuming the vegetative type of the borage plant.

When circumstances are proper, borage can turn out to be a big vigorous plant reaching 24-36 inches tall (60-90cms) and 12-24 inches throughout (30-60cms).  Its measurement and sprawling behavior can bully neighboring crops, rapidly outgrowing them and flattening them with its heavy, flower-laden branches.  Provide loads of house, cane helps, and trim to maintain progress in test. 

The flowers are brilliant purple-blue, typically pink, and sometimes blue fading to pink with age.  They have five-pointed petals in a star formation with the factors of the inexperienced calyx behind the flower seen between every petal. Flowers develop densely in downward-facing clusters.

The stems and leaves are mid to darkish inexperienced with advantageous silvery-white bristly hairs which will be an irritant to delicate pores and skin.  Lower leaves are oval and enormous reaching 6 inches in size and develop abundantly from the bottom. Leaves on the principle flowering stems are smaller and develop extra sparsely.  Seeds are black-brown, rectangular, grooved on the perimeters with a bit of spherical hat on one finish.

Seeds ought to germinate inside 7-10 days within the heat of early spring, with flowers showing from June proper via to early fall.  When crops go to seed, they’re completed for the 12 months and start to die.  Borage is sometimes called invasive due to its rampant self-seeding behavior.  However, the seedlings are straightforward to establish and take away so it not often turns into a serious drawback.

Borage leaves and flowers are edible and have a cucumber taste.  Both are greatest used recent and youthful leaves are typically much less furry and extra palatable.  Bees that feed on borage flowers are additionally believed to supply among the best flavored honey.

Borage will be grown in giant, deep containers full of compost.  Locate in a sheltered location, water typically, and prune container-grown crops repeatedly to maintain them tidy.

Here are some different cultivars to widespread borage. Borago officinalis ‘Alba’, a white-flowered selection, and Borago pygmaea, a perennial, low rising selection with small blue star-shaped flowers.

Planting

Borage is greatest sown immediately exterior in spring when all hazard of frost has handed. Sowing direct assist roots set up rapidly offering a great floor anchor earlier than they get too top-heavy and blow over.  Borage additionally has a faucet root that doesn’t transplant effectively.

For greatest outcomes select a full solar location to develop borage, though it may possibly additionally tolerate partial shade.  Sow borage seed in drills roughly 1 inch deep (2.5cm) and rows 12 inches aside (30cms), thinning rising seedlings to 12 inches between crops (30cm).  Soil will be amended with natural matter previous to planting to assist with water retention, however it isn’t completely crucial.  Borage grows effectively in drought circumstances and poor soil.  The additional natural matter and moisture retention merely assist to determine sturdy roots and create a extra steady plant.  Support crops with stakes as they get taller for added wind safety.

Want to get a head begin? Sow seeds indoors, one seed per cell,  3 to 4 weeks earlier than the final frost date. Plant borage seedlings exterior in any case danger of frost is over and when crops are nonetheless fairly younger.

Growing borage in greenhouses and polytunnels is a wonderful technique to entice pollinators to vegetable crops grown below cowl.  Borage may also be grown in giant, heavy containers full of well-drained soil. 

Care

Cluster of borage flowers
This beautiful herb is a superb pollinator-attractant. Source: Terrie Schweitzer

Borage is a straightforward and satisfying herb plant to develop within the backyard.  Follow our care information beneath to maintain these borage blooms coming all summer time lengthy.

Sun and Temperature

For sturdy crops and considerable flowers, develop borage in full solar to partial shade with not less than 4-6 hours of daylight per day.  Suitable to develop in USDA zones 3 -10, borage is tolerant of excessive and funky temperatures however will die again with the onset of frost.

Water and Humidity

Although comparatively drought-tolerant, borage will profit from common watering to develop wholesome, sturdy upright crops.  Water deeply with soaker hoses or by hand directing water on the soil.  Provide plenty of house between crops to enhance air circulation and to scale back the danger of powdery mildew when humidity is excessive.

Soil

Borage grows greatest in well-drained soils spanning the entire gamut of sandy, loam, and clay.  It can even develop effectively in a large soil pH vary together with mildly acid, impartial, and mildly alkaline.   

Fertilizing

Regular fertilizer will not be essential to develop borage. Soil amended at first of the rising season will present ample vitamins.

Pruning

Borage can turn out to be a bit unruly with age, with sprawling stems mendacity on the bottom and no actual form or profile.  Keep mature crops trimmed to forestall them from changing into prime heavy and flopping over.  Regular deadheading will encourage extra blooms and can cut back self-seeding. At the top of the season dig up and compost your entire plant (eradicating any seed heads first) so as to add plenty of wealthy minerals and vitamins to future compost mulches.

Propagation

Propagate borage from seed both immediately exterior within the backyard or in module cells for planting out later.

Sow seeds exterior in drills roughly 1 inch deep (2.5cm) and rows 12 inches aside (30cms) in any case danger of frost has handed. Thin rising seedlings to 12 inches (30cm) between crops. 

Start seeds indoors 3-4 weeks earlier than the final frost date. Sow one seed per cell full of basic compost and plant out when all danger of frost has handed and borage crops are nonetheless fairly younger to reduce root disturbance.

Harvesting and Storing

Borage foliage and flowers
With a lightweight cucumber-like taste, the leaves and flowers are tasty. Source: Satrina0

Borage flowers, leaves, and seeds will be harvested and saved.  Follow the information beneath that can assist you take pleasure in borage at its freshest.

Harvesting

Harvest younger leaves so as to add to salads or drinks; mature leaves are typically robust and furry.  To harvest borage flowers, merely pull flowers from the plant as wanted.  Petals will be faraway from the inexperienced calyx if desired however not crucial.  Bright blue flowers are the freshest with the very best cucumber taste.  Harvest seeds heads after flowering and retailer for sowing subsequent 12 months and sharing with buddies.

Storing

Borage leaves and flowers are greatest used recent however will retailer for a couple of days within the fridge gently wrapped in damp kitchen paper.  Flowers will be frozen in ice dice trays and added to summer time drinks or crystallized and used as cake decorations.  Store seeds in paper envelopes in a cool, dry location.

Troubleshooting

Borage flower
Every star-shaped borage flower is a surprising sight. Source: pstenzel71

Borage is simple to develop and often trouble-free, however simply in case, right here are some things to look out for.

Growing Problems

The foremost rising drawback with borage is its untidy and sprawling look because it grows greater.  Stems are simply damaged as soon as laden with buds and flowers and have a tendency to fall or blow over. To counteract this drawback, trim crops repeatedly to maintain them in form and deadhead spent blooms.  Provide crops with helps to maintain them upright.

Pests

Aphids (Aphidoidea), specifically, feed on the sap of recent progress.  Treat biologically with predatory bugs, reminiscent of ladybug larvae (cococinella septempunctata) and hoverflies by planting flowers that entice them into your backyard.  A fast spray of natural insecticidal cleaning soap will kill aphids as will squishing them with fingers. 

Diseases

Borage can turn out to be contaminated with powdery mildew in sizzling, damp environments, growing a thick white fungal progress on leaves that inhibits photosynthesis and hinders progress.  Foliage ultimately turns yellow and dies.  Maintain good backyard hygiene eradicating contaminated foliage to forestall the illness from spreading and reinfection in subsequent years.  Provide ample daylight and good air circulation. Treat affected crops with an natural fungicide reminiscent of copper fungicide, sulfur, or potassium bicarbonate, previous to or on first sight of illness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Bee on borage
Bees and different pollinators can’t resist these beautiful blooms. Source: Riccardo Palazzani

Q: Does borage come again yearly?

A:  Borage is an annual herb that germinates, flowers, and can go to seed inside one season.  However, in case you have grown borage in your backyard as soon as, the chances are that it’ll self-sow and you’ll have plenty of seedlings the next 12 months.

Q: Where does borage develop greatest?

A:  Borage prefers a sunny, sheltered place in well-drained, moisture-retentive soil.

Q: Is borage an annual or a perennial?

A:  Borage is an annual herb.

Q: Is borage an invasive plant?

A:  Borage is sometimes called invasive due to its rampant self-seeding behavior.  The seedlings are simply recognized and eliminated, so it not often turns into a serious drawback.


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