How to Grow Borage

Borage is considered an herb, although there are some cultures that eat their leaves like lettuce.  I think they must have to rub off the hairs before eating the leaves, though, unless the younger leaves are less hairy. The flower petals are also edible. They are reported to taste like a crisp cucumber, but I wasn’t really able to taste anything… They are a beautiful blue color, and regardless of how they taste, they make a typical salad into a centerpiece. They also can be added to drinks or frozen in ice cubes. Or, like other edible flowers, candy them for decorations on cakes, pastries or other desserts. One source did state that if eaten in large quantities it can have a diuretic effect.

Botanical Information

Taxonomy

Borago officinalis

History

Physical Description

Borage is an annual that grows to about 2-3 feet tall, and has hairy leaves & stems (ouch!) The flowers are beautiful, though. Blue-purple flowers are star-shaped and many of them come out of a central stalk, hanging down like falling stars. The stems that the flowers hang from are part of the beauty – they are burgundy-red with hairs that catch the light. They start flowering around mid-summer.

Varieties & Cultivars

Categories or Types of Borage

Colors Available

Varieties to Grow

Growth Requirements

Climate & Temperature Requirements

Air Temperature

Soil Temperature

Humidity

Day Length or Light Requirements

Borage likes full sun.

Site Conditions Favored

Soil Requirements

Soil Texture

Borage likes light, rich, well-aerated soil.

pH

Nutrient Requirements

Propagation

Methods of propagation

Seed

  • Sow borage seeds in spring
  • Borage reseeds itself readily; I’ve only had to start two plants about 4 years ago, and every year I get a good crop of volunteers. Volunteers should be thinned to about 2 feet apart.

Division

Not an option

Cuttings

Never tried growing borage from cuttings – probably would work, but the seeds are so plentiful & quick to germinate I wouldn’t bother. As a matter of a fact, last year I believe several stems that were laying in the soil rooted themselves into the soil, so I know cuttings would work.

Transplanting or Potting Up

Seed Saving

Planting Out

Bed Prep & Soil Amendments

Bed Spacing

  • Final spacing should be about 2 feet apart

Planting Depth

Alternative Bed Methods

Container Gardening

Borage can be grown indoors: put them in a sunny (south) window, with plenty of water and lots of root space. Remember that they get pretty tall (2-3 feet).

Routine Cultivation & Maintenance

Water Requirements

Fertilization Recommendations

Mulching & Weeding

Pinching or Pruning & Dividing

Support

Winterizing

Companion Planting

Helpful Companions

Harmful Companions

Companion to..

Pests, Diseases & Problems

Common Pests

Common Diseases

Symptoms

Whole Plant

Leaves

Stem/Trunk

Flowers

Fruit

Roots

Harvesting & Storage

Edible Parts of the Plant

  • Flowers: have a crisp, cucumber flavor (although I don’t taste much of anything when I’ve had them)
  • Young leaves

Yield

Days to Harvest / Harvest Timing

Borage is flowering from about midsummer until fall, so all through this time you can harvest the flowers.

The leaves can be harvested from spring through winter, until the frost kills it back.

Harvest Methods

Borage Flowers

  • Harvest in the morning, after the dew has dried, but before the day starts heating up
  • Hold the flower head by the stem, then pluck the whole petal unit off the pistil by pulling a petal. It should pluck off easily, leaving a hole in the center of the star-shaped flower.

Storage of harvest

Fresh

Store Borage flowers until you are going to use them, between layers of damp paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will wilt unless kept air-tight with some moisture.

Canned

Can’t think of why I’d try to can them…

Frozen

Borage flowers are a beautiful addition to ice cubes. Think of adding them to ice bowls or pitchers for a party.

Pickled

Haven’t tried adding them to pickles, but they might look nice if the vinegar solution is crystal clear, water-white. With their cucumber-like flavor, they may be a good addition.

Dried

Borage flowers do not dry well.

Cooking

Nutritional Benefits & Values

Toxicity

Although not toxic, per se, if eaten in large quantities, borage can have a diuretic effect.

Cooking

Preparation

  • lightly rinse them, if needed, then allow them to dry thoroughly, if using fresh
  • Candied borage flowers are a great addition to desserts

Recipes (link to …/category/recipes/tag/[plantname])

  • Salads: sprinkle on top of a green salad
  • Garnish: the star-shaped flowers look great on the side of the plate, or sprinkled on top of a dip
  • Beverages: float flowers on top of drinks, or freeze the flowers in ice cubes or freeze them inside ice-bowls for a cool buffet display
  • Desserts: candied borage flowers are great on cakes, pastries, or other desserts

Resources

Information for this article was taken from these sources. (link to …/category/resources/tag/[plantname])

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