Borage is an annual herb that is often grown for its beautiful blue flowers and cucumber smell and taste. They are great for attracting pollinators to any part of your garden.
Borage can get quite large, 2-3’ tall, and don’t like to be transplanted. If you’re planning on keeping it containerized, pot up often, as it can become root bound easily. Use a final container of about 10 gallons.
If starting indoors, start 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in spring. In the garden, seeds can be scattered just about anywhere, including shade and full sun, and in most types of soil. Fertile soil with good drainage in full to partial sun will give the best planting results, and staggering your planting times will give the longest harvest. Borage is said to improve the taste of tomatoes.
Placing borage in a sunny spot will make for a sturdier plant. Consider pinching upright shoots to encourage a bushier plant, and a nitrogen boost during early growth will encourage foliage. Borage can eventually become top heavy during flowering, so a wider plant will not look as ragged.
Add compost and a phosphorous rich amendment throughout the growing season to feed the plant and increase flowering. Harvest leaves and flowers as needed. Older leaves will get prickly as they age. Borage doesn’t have many pest issues, especially when the leaves get prickly.
Toward the end of the growing season, leave flowers in place to promote self-seeding. Once the plants die back in winter, they can easily be pulled. Allow borage to come back from seed each spring. Borage flowers and leaves are completely edible, and have many uses. Utilize the flowers as pops of color in salads, or add to a potpourri dish for a cucumber scent. The leaves can be used in salads or to make tea. Avoid drying the leaves; they lose most of their flavor. If a beehive is nearby, having a flowering borage around makes a tasty honey. When borage is finished growing, it can be chopped up and spread or tilled under. It has a slow nitrogen release when chopped up. The thick taproot helps to aerate the soil. Borage can be grown as a cover crop, but you won’t get as much nitrogen if the plants die back with freezing weather. You can use borage stems to make a tea that is an excellent fertilizer. Cut the stems and strip the leaves, then place in a container with enough water to cover. Cover the container and let the tea brew for 2 weeks, then remove the stems. Dilute the tea with water (1:10) and use around your garden as a fertilizer. Tea is always best used in one go and fresh.