Borage Crop

Herbs, Borage I am often asked what to do with borage.  What is it good for?  That’s a good question because you won’t find it in any recipe ingredients list nor will you find recommendations for usage for common ailments.  So why would you want to grow borage?

Borage is one of my favorite herbs because it is so useful. Both the flowers and the leaves are edible. The flowers taste like honey but they are such a pretty blue color that they also make attractive decorations. The leaves taste like cucumbers. Harvest only the young leaves. The older, larger leaves are covered with stiff hairs that are not pleasant to chew. The younger, smaller leaves have softer hairs that are easier to eat. Plus you use them raw in salads so the textures of the salad ingredients help to mask the hairs.

Borage’s most important use is in your vegetable garden where it attracts beneficial insects and repels both the cucumber beetle and the tomato hornworm. The flowers are bee magnets.

Borage is grown commercially for its seed oil which is full of GLA (gamma- linolenic acid). GLA is full of healthful fatty acids. It has the highest amount of GLA of any plant.

Borage is a large (2 to 3 feet) annual that is native to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It has naturalized throughout Europe and North America after its introduction by European colonists. The plants grow best in full sun but will tolerate a little shade. They are not fussy about soil or water.

The leaves are large, 2 to 5 inches long, gray green and covered with stiff hairs making the plant deer resistant. The flowers are star shaped and bright blue although pink flowers are also seen. Less commonly seen is a cultivar that has white flowers. Bloom time is late spring through summer.

Borage is a prolific self-sower to the point of invasiveness. Not surprisingly, it is easy to grow from seed. Sow the seed indoors 3 to 4 weeks before your last frost. Plant them ½ inch deep and keep them moist. Optimum soil temperature is 70⁰F. Germination should occur within 5 to 15 days. Transplant your seedlings outdoors when the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed.

9 Comments on “Borage”

  1. Someone told me they use borage as substitute for saffron. Ever heard of this ???

    No I have NOT said that.

  2. You might mention that once the bees get to the flowers they turn purple. That’s why you’ll find a borage plant with flowers of both colors. I use a facial moisturizer with borage. Works great.

    1. It has been my eperience that pollination by bees does not change the color of borage flowers. Borage has been bred to have either blue or white flowers. There is no purple.

    1. Yes, if you check the literature on organic practices, you will find references to many herbs that repel pests.

  3. Actually borage typically flowers pink for me and changes to blue over the course of a few hours. Last year I had a variety that grew pink and stayed pink for the whole season.

  4. Pingback: 2017 Seed List – Postcards From The Pumpkin Patch

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