Large, fuzzy, cucumber-scented leaves and vivid blue flowers attract bees all summer long. Usually grown for the bees and flowers, young leaves can be cooked like spinach or used in salads. Also known as the star flower because of the arrangement of its petals, the flowers have a light cucumber flavour and will stun with their vivid blue petals. A dramatic use is to make ice cubes with the petals frozen into them and drop into cold drinks. Borage seeds contain oils with the highest concentration (20% to 30%) of the fatty acid GLA, even higher than Evening Primrose. Altogether a versatile, attractive and useful herb, add starry blue flowers to salads, drinks, berry desserts for visual appeal. Borage may self sow. It is attractive to bumblebees that must buzz at a certain resonance to release a jet of pollen.
In mild climates, borage will bloom continuously nearly all summer, so it’s a wonderful choice for attracting native pollinators – particularly bumblebees. The leaves and flowers are edible with a flavour reminiscent of cucumbers. Borage is an excellent all around companion plant: It deters tomato hornworm and cabbage worms, and is particularly good planted near tomatoes and strawberries. It is very attractive to pollinators, and excellent for the soil and compost. Borage is also deer-proof. Continue reading below for our top tips on how to grow borage from seed.
Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Direct sow in mid- to late spring. Borage develops a delicate taproot, so it’s best direct sown where it is to grow. Borage does not transplant well. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 21°C (70°F). Seeds should sprout in 5-15 days.
Sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep, and thin to 60cm (24″) apart. Borage will get large and fill in spaces between plants.
Borage is an un-fussy, self-sowing annual. To avoid self-sowing, the flower heads need to be picked regularly. Borage does best in full sun in well drained soil.
Pick fresh flowers for freezing or drying for bouquets. Cut the fresh leaves during the summer to add to salads or spreads.
Usual seed life: 3 years.
Borage is an excellent all around companion plant. Borage deters hornworm and cabbage worms, and is particularly useful planted near tomatoes and strawberries. Very attractive to pollinators and excellent for the soil and compost. Borage is deer-proof.
More on Companion Planting.