(Borago officinalis ‘Blue')
Blue Borage is a sprawling annual herb that is native to the Mediterranean region but can found growing throughout the northern United States. At maturity, this plant reaches a height of 24-36” and features hairy stems and grayish-green leaves, and drooping clusters of star shaped, bright blue flowers. This plant can be grown in a container, attracts bees, butterflies, and predatory wasps, deters tomato hornworms, tolerates drought and light frost, is both edible and medicinal, and self sows!
Harvesting & Storage
Culinary & Medicinal
Nutrition & Health Benefits
Variety: Blue Borage
Also Known As: Starflower, Bee Plant, Bee Bread, Cool-Tankard, and Tailwort.
Native to: Algeria, Baleares, Corse, France, Greece, Italy, Kriti, Libya, Morocco, Portugal, Sardegna, Sicilia, Spain, Tunisia, Yugoslavia.
Introduced into: Alaska, Alberta, Altay, Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South, Austria, Azores, Baltic States, Belgium, Bolivia, British Columbia, Buryatiya, California, Canary Is., Central European Rus, Chile Central, Colombia, Connecticut, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, District of Columbia, Dominican Republic, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, Ecuador, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Illinois, Irkutsk, Jawa, Kamchatka, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Krym, Kuril Is., Lebanon-Syria, Madeira, Maine, Manitoba, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mexico Central, Mexico Southwest, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Netherlands, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Newfoundland, North Caucasus, North Dakota, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Ontario, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Peru, Poland, Primorye, Prince Edward I., Puerto Rico, Québec, Rhode I., Romania, Sakhalin, Saskatchewan, South European Russi, Switzerland, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Siberia, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
Ease of Growing: Moderate
Grown as: Annual
Maturity (Bloom): June to August
Hardiness: Half Hardy. Borage is half hardy, and can resist light frost.
Growing Season: Short, Long
Growing Conditions: Cool, Warm. Borage thrives in cool climates and likes full sun, although it can tolerate partial shade. In hot climates, partial shade is best. The plant is very adaptable to a variety of environmental conditions and will grow very easily.
Outdoor Growing Temp: 55°F - 80°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 60°F. Borage can be sowed outdoors once the soil temperature reaches roughly 60˚ F, but germinates best around 70˚ F.
Start Indoors: No
Start Outdoors: Yes
Light: Sun min. 6 hours daily (Cool, Warm). Plant Borage in a sunny part of the garden.
Water: Dry to medium. Borage seedlings will require regular watering, but once established, the plant is fairly drought tolerant.
Feeder: Light. Borage will grow fine in poor soil but will grow taller in soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter. Soil too rich in nitrogen may cause the plant to bloom less.
Suitability: Tolerates light frost
Small Gardens?: Yes
Containers?: Yes. Borage will grow well in containers that are at least 12" deep.
Plant Height: 24-36"
Plant Diameter: 12-18"
Sow Depth: 1/4"
Produces: hairy stems and grayish-green leaves, and drooping clusters of star shaped, bright blue flowers.
USDA Grow Zone: 2-11
Garden Uses: Best grown in herb or wild gardens. Leaves may be used in cold drinks, salads or as cooked greens. Flowers serve as attractive garnishes.
Soil pH: 4.5-8.5, Ideal 6.0-7.0. Borage is a very adaptable plant, thriving in nearly all soil types, especially in well-drained soils.
Compost (Nitrogen), 2 inches, in top 10" of soil, 1 time: Incorporate 2" of compost into the top 10" of soil.
Standard Mix, 5 pounds per 100 sq. ft., in top 10" of soil, 1 time: Incorporate 5 pounds of standard mix into the top 10" of soil. A standard mix will supply all necessary nutrients. This is a mix of various amendments intended to supply all of the nutrients plants may require. It is usually incorporated into the soil prior to planting. The mix consists of:
- 4 parts cottonseed meal (this is high in nitrogen and relatively inexpensive)
- 2 parts colloidal phosphate or bone meal (for phosphorus)
- 2 parts wood ash or 3 parts greensand or granite dust (for potassium)
- 1 part dolomitic limestone (to balance pH and add calcium and magnesium)
- 1 part kelp meal (for trace elements)
Mix these together thoroughly. You can do this all at once, or you can store them separately and mix as needed.
Water Needs: Moderate. Borage seedlings will require regular watering, but once established, the plant is fairly drought tolerant.
Fertilizer Needs: Light. Borage will grow fine in poor soil but will grow taller in soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter. Soil too rich in nitrogen may cause the plant to bloom less.
Watering, regularly: Water, 0.5 inch(es), regularly, 2 times a week. After sowing, keep the soil evenly moist to ensure adequate moisture for germination and seedlings. Once established plants can tolerate short droughts, but will be more successful if watered regularly. Watering also depends on your local weather; don't water if it's raining, or water more frequently if it's dry. Just be sure to keep soil moist but never soggy for the best crop. The best way to know how much moisture is in your soil is to feel 2" below the soil line. If it's dry, water.
Side Dressing, when 4" tall: Mulch, 2 inch(es), when 4" tall, 1 time. Using a 2" layer of mulch will help to keep the soil evenly moist and block weeds that would compete with your plants for nutrients and water.
Storage Req: Freezer
Storage Temp: 32°F
Storage Length: days
Leaves and stems can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days if wrapped in a paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag.
Storage Req: Refrigerator
Storage Temp: 35-40°F
Storage Length: 1-5 days
Seed Viability in Years: 3-5 years
Germination Percentage: 70%
Culinary Use: Young, tender leaves can be used fresh in salads or cooked like spinach or other braising greens. Blue flowers add vibrant color to salads and add a taste of cucumber. Flowers can also be used as garnish for lemonade, punch, iced tea, and even on cakes! Blooming tops can be boiled to make an herbal tea.
Hazards of Borage: The plant, but not the oil obtained from the seeds, contains small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can cause liver damage and liver cancer. These alkaloids are present in too small a quantity to be harmful unless you make borage a major part of your diet, though people with liver problems would be wise to avoid using the leaves or flowers of this plant.
The Health Benefits of Borage Oils
- PMS symptoms (including breast pain or tenderness, anxiety, and skin breakouts)
- Bone loss and osteoporosis (especially when combined with bone-building supplements like omega-3 fish oils)
- ADHD symptoms
- Skin disorders, including eczema or dermatitis
- Menopause symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats
- Hormonal imbalances, including adrenal insufficiency
- Ongoing fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis pain
- Dealing with stress
- Managing diabetes
- Promoting breast-milk production
- Respiratory distress (ARDS), bronchitis, colds, coughs and fevers
- Inflammation causing pain and swelling
- Preventing heart disease and stroke
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