Rising borage: Edible pollinator-friendly plant

Borage is one of the most enjoyable and easiest to pull of the yearbooks and a must have for anyone interested in nature, cottage or potager style gardening. I have grown borage for more years than I can remember, but I only ever sowed it once! This beautiful herb with its bright blue flowers pays me an abundance of self-sown borage plants every year that I can grow for another year. They are a clear signal that spring has come and summer is on the way.

This year my allotment has been redesigned and cleared to accommodate a larger cut flower garden, and I have not yet seen a small baby borage. It is therefore very fitting that I will share my experiences, knowledge and joy associated with growing borage the second time I sow borage seeds.

Borage, also known as "star flower", is an upright, bushy annual herb with attractive light blue star-shaped flowers that will stand out in any garden. Bees and butterflies love borage! Plants can be buzzed by bees all summer long. Predatory insects like hover flies and wasps also love to enjoy the nectar of the borage blossom, which makes them a great companion in the vegetable garden.

The flowers of the borage plant have a subtle cucumber flavor and are perfect as a side dish for salads or candied decorations for cakes. But if you really want to impress your guests, try freezing flowers in ice cubes and adding them to cool summer drinks.

Good products on Amazon for growing borage:

Brief instructions for care

Growing borage offers an abundance of stunning blue star-shaped flowers and is edible too! Source: pstenzel71

Common Name (s) Borage, bugloss, star flower, beehive, bee bread
Scientific name Borago officinalis
Days to harvest Approx. 56 days until harvest
light Full sun to partial shade
water Drought tolerant
ground Well-drained, sandy, loamy or loamy soils
fertilizer Not necessary
Pests Black fly aphid
Diseases mildew

Everything about borage

Borage FieldWith large plants, the flowers give a field a blue sheen. Source: franklin_hunting

Borage, also known as bugloss and starflower, belongs to the Boraginaceae plant family along with comfrey, forget-me-nots and alkanet. Its botanical name is Borago officinalis, the term "officinalis" describes its use as a medicinal herb. Native to the Mediterranean region, borage has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes since ancient Greek and Roman times, including as an anti-inflammatory agent and to treat skin conditions such as dermatitis. Starflower oil made from borage seeds is high in gamma-lineolenic acid, also called GLA, and is a common dietary supplement for women of all ages. As with all medicines, it is best to consult a doctor to determine if they are right for you. Caution is also advised when consuming the vegetative form of the borage plant.

If the conditions are right, borage can grow into a large, vigorous plant, reaching 60 to 90 cm in height and 30 to 60 cm in diameter. Its size and sprawling growth can bully neighboring plants, quickly outgrowing them and flattening them with their heavy, flowering branches. Provide plenty of space, cane supports, and trim to keep growth in check.

The flowers are light purple blue, sometimes pink, and often blue as they turn pink with age. They have five-pointed petals forming a star, with the tips of the green calyx visible behind the flower between the individual petals. Flowers grow densely in downward-facing clusters.

The stems and leaves are medium to dark green with fine silver-white bristle hairs that can irritate sensitive skin. The lower leaves are oval and large, reaching 6 inches in length, and growing profusely from the base. The leaves on the main flower stalks are smaller and more sparse. The seeds are black-brown, elongated, grooved on the sides and have a small round hat on one end.

Seeds should germinate within 7 to 10 days in the warmth of early spring, with flowers appearing from June through early fall. When plants sow, they are ready for the year and begin to die. Borage is often called invasive because it often self-seeds. However, the seedlings are easy to identify and remove, so it rarely becomes a major problem.

Borage leaves and flowers are edible and have a cucumber flavor. Both are best used on fresh and younger leaves. They are less hairy and tastier. It is also believed that bees that feed on borage flowers produce one of the finest honey flavors.

Borage can be grown in large, deep containers filled with compost. Put the device in a sheltered location, water it frequently, and regularly prune container-grown plants to keep them clean.

Here are some alternative varieties to borage. Borago officinalis ‘Alba’, a white-flowered variety, and Borago pygmaea, a perennial, low-growing variety with small blue star-shaped flowers.


Borage is best sown outdoors in spring, when the danger of frost has passed. Planting roots with direct help establishes itself quickly and provides a good ground anchor before they become too top-heavy and tip over. Borage also has a rooster root that does not transplant well.

For best results, choose a full sun location to grow borage, although it can also tolerate partial shade. Sow borage seeds in drills about 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep and rows 30 cm (12 inches) apart, thinning the resulting seedlings between 30 cm (12 inches) to 12 inches. Organic matter can be added to the soil before planting to improve water retention. However, this is not absolutely necessary. Borage grows well in drought conditions and poor soils. The extra organic matter and moisture retention simply help build strong roots and create a more stable plant. Support plants with stakes as they grow to provide additional wind protection.

Would you like to have a head start? Sow the seeds indoors, one seed per cell, 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost date. Plant borage seedlings outside after the danger of frost has passed and when the plants are still quite young.

Growing borage in greenhouses and polytunnels is an excellent way to attract pollinators to vegetables grown under cover. Borage can also be grown in large, heavy containers filled with well-drained soil.


Borage flower clustersThis beautiful herb makes a great pollinator attractant. Source: Terrie Schweitzer

Borage is an easy and pleasant herbal plant that grows in the garden. Follow our care instructions below to keep the borage flowers coming all summer.

Sun and temperature

For vigorous plants and abundant flowers, let borage grow in full sun to partial shade with at least 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. Borage is suitable for growth in USDA Zones 3 through 10 and can tolerate high and cool temperatures, but dies with the onset of frost.

Water and moisture

Although borage is relatively drought tolerant, it is watered regularly to develop healthy, vigorous, upright plants. Pour deeply on the ground with drinking hoses or by hand. Leave plenty of space between plants to improve air circulation and reduce the risk of powdery mildew in high humidity.


Borage grows best in well-drained soils that span the full range of sand, loam, and clay. It also grows well in a wide range of soil pH, including slightly acidic, neutral, and slightly alkaline.


Regular fertilizer is not required to grow borage. Soil changed at the beginning of the growing season provides sufficient nutrients.


Borage can become a bit unruly as it ages, with sprawling stems on the bottom and no real shape or profile. Keep mature plants pruned to prevent them from becoming top heavy and falling over. Regular deadheading will encourage more blooms and reduce self-sowing. At the end of the season, dig up and compost the entire plant (remove all seed heads first) to add plenty of rich minerals and nutrients to future compost mulches.


Propagation of borage from seeds either directly in the garden or in modular cells for later planting.

Sow the seeds outside in burs about 2.5 cm deep and 12 inches (30 cm) apart after the risk of frost has passed. Thin emerging seedlings to 30 cm between the plants.

Start the seeds indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost date. Sow one seed per cell filled with general compost and plant it out when the risk of frost has passed and the borage plants are quite young to minimize root disturbances.

Harvesting and storing

Borage foliage and flowersWith a slight cucumber-like taste, the leaves and flowers are delicious. Source: Satrina0

Borage flowers, leaves and seeds can be harvested and stored. Follow these tips below so that you can enjoy borage in its freshest form.


Harvest young leaves to add to salads or drinks. mature leaves tend to be tough and hairy. To harvest borage flowers, simply pull flowers from the plant as needed. Petals can be removed from the green calyx if desired, but not required. Light blue flowers are the freshest with the best cucumber flavor. After flowering, harvest the seed heads and store them for next year sowing and sharing with friends.


Borage leaves and flowers are best used fresh, but kept in the refrigerator for a few days, carefully wrapped in damp kitchen paper. Flowers can be frozen in ice cube trays and added to summer beverages, or crystallized and used as cake decorations. Store seeds in paper envelopes in a cool, dry place.


Borage flowerEach star-shaped borage flower is a breathtaking sight. Source: pstenzel71

Borage is easy to grow and usually hassle-free, but there are a few things to keep in mind just in case.

Growing problems

The main problem with borage is that messy and sprawling appearance how it gets bigger. Stems can be broken easily when laden with buds and flowers and tend to fall or blow over. To counteract this problem, trim the plants regularly to keep them in shape. Support plants to keep them upright.


Aphids In particular (Aphidoidea) feed on the juice of new growth. Treat biologically with predatory insects like ladybug larvae (Cococinella septempunctata) and hoverflies by planting flowers that they will attract to your garden. A quick spray of organic insecticidal soap kills aphids and squeezes them with your fingers.


Borage can be infected with mildew In hot, humid environments, thick white fungal growth develops on the leaves, which inhibits photosynthesis and hinders growth. The foliage eventually turns yellow and dies. Maintain good garden hygiene and remove infected leaves to prevent the disease from spreading and re-infecting in subsequent years. Make sure there is sufficient sunlight and good air circulation. Treat affected plants with an organic fungicide such as copper fungicide, sulfur, or potassium bicarbonate before or at first sight.

frequently asked Questions

Bee on borageBees and other pollinators cannot resist these beautiful flowers. Source: Riccardo Palazzani

Q: Does borage come back every year?

A: Borage is an annual herb that germinates, flowers, and is planted within one season. However, once you have grown borage in your garden, the chances are that it will sow itself and you will have many seedlings in the following year.

Q: Where does borage grow best?

A: Borage prefers a sunny, sheltered position in well-drained, moisture-resistant soils.

Q: is borage a year or a perennial?

A: Borage is an annual herb.

Q: is borage an invasive plant?

A: Borage is often referred to as invasive because it often self-seeds. The seedlings are easy to identify and remove, so it rarely becomes a major problem.

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