Borago officinalis (bo-RA-go oh-FIS-ih-NAH-lis)
COMMON NAMES borage
TYPE: annual Location: sun to partial shade.
PLANTING: plant in spring after danger of frost and again in early and mid summer. Sow in the fall to flower in late spring. Very easy to grow by seed, will reseed easily.
HEIGHT: 18 to 24 inches SPREAD: 12 to 24 inches FINAL SPACING: 18 inches
BLOOM/FRUIT: bright blue or purple, 5 petaled star-shaped flowers with cones of black anthers.
PLANTING METHOD: Seed and transplants
SEED EMERGENCE: 10-14 days
HARVEST TIME: Any time during the growing season
GROWTH HABITS/CULTURE: Borage loves dry soil and full sun but can tolerate some shade. Fast growing, fuzzy leaves, beautiful small blue-purple flowers. Leaves are 6 to 8 inches long. Stems, leaves and flower buds are covered with silvery hairs. Has long fleshy taproot and does not transplant easily. Gets floppy if not staked or cut back frequently.
PROBLEMS: Occasionally grasshoppers. Chlorosis in poor soil. Treat soil with compost, lava sand and Texas greensand. Gather and dry leaves anytime. Fresh leaves should be used if at all possible. Leaves lose color and flavor when dried. Cut back frequently to prolong flowering. Leaves do not freeze or dry well.
CULINARY USES: Good in vinegars and cooling teas, cucumber flavor, flowers for garnish. Flowers can be candied or frozen into ice cubes to add an interesting touch to punches and other iced drinks. Float flowers in drinks and teas. Leaves can be boiled and eaten. Also useful in soups. Leaves are high in mineral salts such as calcium and potassium. Young leaves and flowers can be used in salads.
MEDICINAL USES: Tea from the leaves is used to dispel melancholy. Sedative. Diuretic. Soothes bronchitis, pleurisy and rheumatism. Reduces fevers, dry coughs and dry skin rashes. Other reported properties of borage seeds include stimulation of mothers’ milk, aiding weight loss, slowing the aging process, reversing hair loss, and reducing depression. Seeds yield omega 3 essential fatty acids that reduce certain inflammatory conditions leading to heart disease.
LANDSCAPE USES: Good looking decorative annual plant.
OTHER USES: Excellent plant for attracting bees.
INSIGHT: Borage has high mucilage content. Leaves should be eaten only in moderation.