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Borage: From Growing To Knowing

Borage is an amazing plant for many reasons. If you're looking for reasons to add it to your garden, I've got a ton!


Borage is a self-seeding annual. It self seeds so prolificely that you will probably only have to buy seeds once and will spend the next several years trying to prevent it from taking over it's place in your garden! One plant will grow 12-18 inches wide.

Borage is an easy plant to grow. It is not picky about soil conditions and direct sows with great germination. It thrives under dappled sun.

Borage is a wonderful companion plant and pollinator friendly addition to the garden. Borage repels hornworms and cucumber beetles while attracting beneficial pollinators. It works as a trap crop for aphids as they are attracted to it. Because borage is a tap root, it's root grows deep down into the soil past most plant roots and grabs trace minerals and nutritional other plants can't reach. We call this a 'dynamic accumulator'. Borage is particularly dynamic at accumulating potassium. This makes borage fantastic for composting and mulching. Borage tea is a great liquid fertilizer for your garden. This long tap root also helps break up and aerate dense or compacted soil. It also is a nurse plant. Nurse plants help any plants near it. Borage is known to make strawberries and tomatoes sweeter when planted alongside them. It is known to be a great companion plant to many garden varieties.

Only 10% of flowers are actually true blue. It is the rarest color of flower but borage blooms a beautiful true blue. It is also found in white.

Borage stems, leaves, and flowers are edible and have a cucumber flavor. They are better when they are young because they contain lower levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Older leaves not only contain higher amounts, but they are 'hairier' and less pleasant to eat. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids can damage the liver so it is not recommended that you gorge yourself on borage on a regular basis. Eating a few in salads here and there is not something to worry about.


All parts of borage are considered medicinal. Borage is a cooling and cleansing herb.

Borage's herbal actions include:

Emollient: Softening and soothing, especially to the skin.

Demulcent: Soothing or relieving irritation, particularly to mucous surfaces.

Anti-inflammatory: Relieves inflamation.

Astringent: COntracts body tissues.

Diuretic (leaves): Increases urination.

Diaphoretic: Promotes sweating.

It has often been associated with courage. Roman soldiers used to drink borage wine before battles to give them courage. In folklore, women would give a man borage tea to help him work up the nerve to propose to her.

  • It is also an herb for gladness. This originated from the herbal idea that our spirits are stored in the heart and heart medicines worked by helping with depression and anxiety and such. Borage is an herb for gladness with our modern understanding of herbalism as well because it has a calming sedative effect on the nerves. It helps with nervous conditions.

  • It is also beneficial to the repository system with its cooling effect. Borage is used to treat fever, colds and flu, asthma, bronchitis, and pleurisy.

  • It is beneficial in irritable bowel syndrome as it promotes digestion and relieves stomach-aches.

  • It can also be applied as a poultice to the skin to relieve bug bites and stings.

  • In females, borage promotes lacatation, the oil softens the cervix, it helps to ease mood swings and depression associated with PMS and menopause, and provides support for peri-menopause and menopause including hot flashes.

  • Borage seeds are full of GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid ), its the highest known plant source, and borage seed oil is touted for eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions.

  • Borage is known to contraindict with anticoagulants. It should not be consumed regularly without a break for more than two or three months at a time because pyrrolizidine alkaloids can cause liver damage. If you eat it seasonally, this shouldn't be a problem in most growing areas. If you're taking a tincture, give yourself a break equal to the amount of time you've consumed it. (Solid advice for all tinctures!)


Borage makes a lovely tea and is a great culinary herb. It can be made into tinctures and infusions as well as salves and poultices. It can be made into jellies. You can candy the flowers. It can be made into salads, sauces, and soups. It can be brewed as a tea or alongside lemons to make lemonade. It can be muddled for cocktails or frozen in ice. The uses are as wide as your creativity.

Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

Sparkling Borage Cocktail

Borage Soup

Borage Party Spread

Borage Pasta

Borage and Mint Dip

Happy Growing!

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