Plant family: Boraginaceae
Whether from seed or transplant, borage is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to incorporate into the garden landscape. Aptly named starflower, this striking plant with blue star-shaped flowers is native to the Mediterranean and has its place in the ornamental, vegetable, or herb garden. Borage likes full sun and grows quickly in the spring or fall season, reaching about 1-2 feet wide by 2-3 feet tall. It is an annual that will die out in the heat and during a freeze, but will readily return if allowed to self-seed in the garden.
Benefits of borage in the garden ecosystem:
Borage is a common addition to fruit tree guilds because it attracts pollinators, provides a rich source of biomass, and adds biodiversity. In this photo, borage is sharing space with a young Mexican plum. Other common companion planting suggestions are tomatoes, strawberries, and squash.
Benefits of Borage:
Bee food - Its abundant blooms attract a host of pollinators.
Nutrient accumulator - Its deep taproot draws nutrients up from the soil, making them better available to the garden. It also helps to aerate the soil as it breaks down.
Green manure - Used as a cover crop, the plant can be chopped and mixed into the soil or left to compost in place. This provides a rich source of organic matter that feeds the garden.
Weed suppressant - Borage's large leaves provide a decent amount of biomass that blankets and enriches the soil, blocking weeds from coming through.
Compost tea - For a liquid fertilizer that can be fed to garden plants, steep borage leaves in water, ferment for 1-2 weeks, strain, and dilute to 1 parts borage tea to 10 parts water. Comfrey, another member of the Boraginaceae family, makes a good addition as well.
Working with Borage
young leaves, flowers, seed oil
Borage has the reputation for bringing courage and lifting the spirits when times are tough. Its juicy, cucumber-tasting leaves are nutritive and have cooling and moistening properties that can be helpful on hot, dry days. The plant's small, edible flowers can be incorporated into salads, teas, cocktails, cordials, infused honeys, flower essences, and various culinary creations. They make cute additions to ice cubes, are delicious and adorable candied, and add a magical energy when garnishing a dessert or picnic spread.
Topically as a poultice, the crushed leaves can help relieve bug bites, bruises, boils, and rashes.
Borage seed oil and evening primrose oil contain high levels of gammolinoleic acid (GLA), which is an essential fatty acid known to help reduce inflammation and balance hormones, among other things.
These statements are for educational purposes only. They have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult a licensed health care professional before consuming a new plant -- especially if you are pregnant or have pre-existing medical conditions.