I was first introduced to Borage on a visit to the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA.
In what was a replica of an ancient Roman herb garden I saw a beautiful, vibrant blue flower. The flower is star-shaped, quite distinctive and grows 18-36 inches tall. The tour guide let us know that Borage is an herb with edible flowers and leaves that have the flavor and scent of a cucumber. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region and can be used in soups, dips, beverages and ice cubes.
In further researching Borage I discovered that when the plant starts to bloom it is pink and then it turns into this brilliant blue flower. When in bloom the flower hangs downward and as previously mentioned the leaves are edible, but this is when they are young. As the leaves mature, they develop a prickly fuzz and they are no longer edible.
Borage is relatively easy to grow and the best way to plant it is from seed. It is an annual plant, so it does not come back the following year but it does self-seed readily. The plant will tolerate any type of soil and does best planted in full sun to partial shade. The optimal conditions for the plant are full-sun and well-drained soil. Growing Borage in full sun helps to make the plant sturdier. The plant blooms from late spring through summer. Make sure to deadhead the plants to keep them flowering. To ensure having Borage in the garden all season long try staggering the plant time. Plant the seeds every few weeks. If you are interested in growing a pollinator garden, try Borage as it is great at attracting bees.
While Borage is an herb, it is also a great companion flower to add to your vegetable garden. Since Borage aids in attracting pollinators, vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, squash, and strawberries benefit from this plant. Borage has also been shown to deter leaf-eating caterpillars such as tomato hornworms.
Another thing I learned about Borage is that the plant has medicinal benefits too. Oil can be extracted from the seeds and when taken internally or rubbed onto the skin it can help with itchy skin. Some studies have shown the seed oil can also help with the reduction of inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have grown Borage in your garden, let us know your experiences on our Facebook page or below.
Photos Courtesy of Jill Mazur.