Borage is an annual herb with beautiful star shaped blue or white edible flowers. We used to put them in ice cubes when we were kids and they made a glass of lemonade all the more enjoyable as the cubes melted and released their perfect treasures. Not only small children are fans of these flowers – bees make a ‘bee line’ for them, relishing in their nectar. For this reason alone we should all plant borage, anything that encourages and nourishes bees in our gardens is a ‘must’ as we need bees to pollinate our fruit and vegetables. Borage has coarse hairy leaves that are used to make a herb tea. Borage grows to around knee height. This is a very successful self-seeding plant and it will undoubtedly make itself at home in your garden once you have planted it! The good news for those wanting to keep it under control is that the young seedlings are easy to pull up wherever they are not wanted.
Companions Tomatoes, strawberries, squash.
Quantity 1 plant per person.
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Sow or plant in early spring and summer countrywide.
Borage grows well in full sun as well as partial shade.
Borage likes a dry, free-draining soil without too much organic material in it. If your soil is sticky then dig in coarse sand or fine pumice to help improve drainage – or plant in a half-barrel or large pot.
In early spring, sow seeds a finger-tip deep in trays or punnets filled with seed compost or directly into the garden or proposed container. Thin seedlings as they develop so that plants end up with about two hands’ lengths between them.
When your seedlings are about a finger’s length in height and the weather has settled and is reliably warm and sunny, plant seedlings at an average spacing of a good hand’s length to a forearm apart.
Water young seedlings in dry periods. Once they are established and starting to grow you shouldn’t need to continue with watering.
Pick young leaves to liven up a salad with their fresh cucumber taste or steep in boiling water for a cup of tea. Flowers can also be eaten in salads as well as frozen in ice cubes for fun and decoration.
As an annual, borage will die at the onset of winter, allowing it to flower and self-seed means you’ll be rewarded with a range of plants in all sorts of unexpected places next spring and summer.