Common name: borage Botanical name: Borago officinalis Origin: Europe
Few varieties are available; grow the variety available in your area.
Borage is a tender annual that grows two to three feet tall. The stems and leaves are grey-green and covered with velvety hair, and the light blue flowers grow In drooping clusters. When borage is In flower it's a striking plant, especially if you set it high — on a wall, for instance — because the nodding flowers
are seen to best advantage from below. The flowers are used to add color to potpourri. Borage, like thyme, is supposed to give courage. An old English jingle goes: Borage, Bring Courage."
Borage will grow almost anywhere in the United States. It tolerates a wide range of temperatures but will not survive a hard frost. Because of its striking coloring and unusual flowers, it makes an attractive indoor plant.
Borage prefers well-drained sandy soil in full sun. When you're preparing the soil, dig in a complete, well-balanced fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet. Plant borage from seed in early spring after the average date of last frost. Plant the seeds (which germinate readily) a quarter inch deep in rows 18 to 24 inches apart, and when the plants are six to eight inches tall, thin them to stand 12 inches apart.
Fertilizing and watering
Do not fertilize borage again at midseason. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Part 1.
Let borage dry out between waterings.
Borage has no serious pest problems. Like most herbs, it's a good choice for the organic garden.
Borage has no serious disease problems.
When and how to harvest
Harvest young leaves as needed throughout the growing season, and harvest the entire plant in the fall before frost.
Storing and preserving
Refrigerate the stems and leaves for fresh use, or freeze them. Detailed information on storing and preserving is given in Part 3.
Fresh borage leaves have a cucumberlike taste and can be used in salads, soups, and stews, or cooked like spinach. You can peel the stems and use them in salads. Borage flowers are sometimes candied for use as a garnish in fruit drinks.
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