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What is a Borage Plant?

what-is-a-borage-plant?

Learn more about the Borage plant including its characteristics, reproduction, and growing conditions. These fast-growing herbaceous plants also provide a variety of uses that are both beneficial to humans and gardens.

Borago Officinalis

There’s a chance you’ve heard of borage before but heard it under the pseudonym of starflower or bee bush. This plant has been awarded these nicknames due to the shape of its beautiful flowers, and because they are an ultimate favorite landing spot for bees and other pollinators.

Borage is a super fast-growing and easy to care for annual herb. Part of the flowering plant family, Boraginaceae, are often grown in vegetable gardens as a companion plant! This is because they attract pollinators but repel other pesky insects, particularly the tomato hornworm.

Symbiotic gardening is a super skill to learn if you are a passionate gardener, so head on over to that article to learn how to get into it! Borage is usually planted alongside fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, squash, and strawberries.

The plant itself is also edible, both its leaves and its flowers! They have a distinct cucumber flavor, and are used to flavor salads, soups, spreads, sandwiches, and add a lovely flare to cocktails as well.

We love plants around here, and that’s why we’ve created an awesome list of the most popular and wonderful flowering plants from all over the world. So whether you’re a seasoned pro or you’re looking to brush up on your flower knowledge, we have a little something for everybody!

Table of Contents

What does Borage Look Like?

Flowers

The flowers that borage plants produce are both complete and perfect flowers, meaning that they possess both male reproductive characteristics and female reproductive characteristics.

A flower has 5 narrow triangularly shaped petals that meet in pointed tips. When they first emerge the hang in a downward facing way. Flowers are borne in clusters.

A flower is usually a deep blue color, but can sometimes be pink or white depending on the cultivar. With the shape of the petals, these flowers are a noticeable five pointed star shaped.

Flowers of this plant are edible, and have a distinct cucumber flavor. They can be eaten either fresh or as a dried herb or garnish.

Stems

The stem of a borage plant can be anywhere from 20-30 inches in height, and they are quite gangly and thin. The green/gray stem of this plant is also covered in the prickly fuzz which naturally deters insects.

Leaves

The leaf of a borage plant is simple in shape and is usually 2-6 inches long. Leaves are alternately arranged along a stem. Leaves are also covered in a prickly fuzz substance, which is one of the main components of the plants’ natural insect deterrent.

The leaf of this plant is also edible, and has a distinct cucumber flavor. They can be eaten either fresh or as a dried herb or garnish.

How does Borage Reproduce?

Borage is an annual plant, meaning that it will readily reseed itself year after year. You only have to seed once in your garden, and the borage will take care of the rest!

Pollinators are very attracted to borage flowers, and will quickly pollinate the flower. Flowers are in bloom in June or July, and depending on their growing location, can last anywhere from 1-4 months in bloom.

Before the flowers die, they will spread their small black seeds that will fall into the soil. Their capsules will slowly break down in the winter ground before germinating in the spring!

Where does Borage Grow?

Borage is originally a native plant to the Mediterranean, but has since been naturalized all of Europe. It is a very popular garden plant in Denmark, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

That being said, it can growing in USDA growing zones 2 through 11, and can be grown quite easily in North America as well.

What are the Best Growing Conditions for Borage?

If you’re getting excited about what borage has to offer, here are some tips and tricks on how to get it established and thriving in your garden or inside your home. Yes, that’s right, growing borage is also easily done as a potted plant for your kitchen windowsill! Talk about easy and fresh garnishing!

Soil

Borage can live in many different soil types. The soil can be either dry or moist, but it must certainly be well-drained. They can also tolerate both neutral and acidic soils.

Though they can handle poor soil that is low in nutrients, they definitely appreciate some organic matter to help them along.

Sun Exposure

Though borage can handle partial, they prefer to experience full sun conditions. They tend to show their best chances of healthy blooms when they are in full sun conditions.

Water Level

When a borage seedling is first establishing itself on your property, it will prefer to be watered every few days so that the soil is always moist.

However, once a borage plant has established itself, be careful not to over water it. Allow the soil to completely dry out before giving it another douse of water.

Temperature

Borage can handle temperatures on either side of the spectrum. They can survive both extremely hot temperatures and extremely cold temperatures.

That being said, make sure that you do all of your harvesting before the first frost of the season, as the flowers and leaves will quickly wilt.

Fertilizer

Since borage is an edible plant, it’s never a bad idea to introduce fertilizer. There are specific fertilizers for edible plants that has a high phosphorous number. This type of fertilizer will help keep the flowers in bloom for longer.

Pruning

A borage plant will quickly start to decline if it isn’t deadheaded at the end of the season. Once the flowers have seeded or autumn is approaching, pluck off all the flower heads of the plants to ensure they come back nice and healthy next season!

Intolerances

Planting borage is super easy, and it would be really rather difficult to damage them in any real way. They don’t have any serious intolerances, but simply remember to let soil dry out between waterings for established plants, and deadhead the flowers after they go to seed!

How is Borage Used?

Culinary

First and foremost, borage is used as a delicious herb. This plant is known to have a wonderful cucumber flavor, in both the flowers and the borage leaf of the plant.

The edible flower also has a distinct sweet honey taste, and is often used to decorate desserts. The famous Pimm’s Cup Cocktail has traditionally been garnished with a borage flower, though in modernity is usually garnished with a cucumber or a mint leaf.

Otherwise, leaves and flowers are used to flavor frankfurts, soups, in pickled gherkin recipes, and for filling ravioli.

Medicinal

Borage has also traditionally had a medicinal purpose. Leaves contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids as well as amabiline and thesinine.

Borage seeds are where borage seed oil is extracted from. Borage seed oil contains many healthy acids, such as omega 6 fatty acid, gamma linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, lineolic acid, and many more. Borage seed oil is usually marketed as “starflower oil”.

The plant parts like seeds, leaves, and flowers can all be brewed into a borage tea, creating a special medicinal herb brew concoction. These herbal remedies are known to aid against respiratory and cardiovascular troubles!

Ornamental

And we can’t forget the supreme beauty that comes from anything that is alive. The flowers and interesting growth pattern make for a beautiful addition to any garden.

Companion Planting

Borage is also a very popular companion plant. It’s natural insect repelling abilities make it a supreme choice to help keep pesky insects away from your valuable vegetables and fruits – most specifically the tomato hornworm.

While simultaneously repelling harmful insects, borage also attracts beneficial insects that help in the war against aphids and the like, as well as helpful pollinators! This is good for the flowers, and good for the honey bees.

This is an ancient and incredible gardening method called symbiotic gardening where plants can help one another out when they are planted incongruence. Whether it be in a herb garden or in a vegetable garden, they will be a very valuable member!

Borage is commonly planted alongside strawberries, squash, and tomatoes. It is even said that the nutrients borage put in the soil helps improve the taste of a tomato plant and a strawberry plant!

FAQs

Are borage flowers edible?

Not only are fresh leaves edible, but borage grows a wonderful edible flower as well. A fresh borage blossom can be a great garnish on a dessert or cocktail.

Are borage leaves edible?

Borage is fantastic because it grows edible leaves and edible flowers. It’s not just a pretty plant, it’s delicious too! It is best to eat fresh borage leaves, though dried leaves are good as well to add to soups.

Are borage leaves prickly?

Both the leaves and stems of the borage plant are covered in fine, prickly fuzzy hairs. Though they aren’t particularly prickly in a painful way, they aren’t particularly soft either.

Is borage a perennial?

Borage is an annual plant, meaning that it will bloom, seed, and die all within the annual year.

Can borage grow in the shade?

Though borage can handle partial, they prefer to experience full sun conditions. They tend to show their best chances of healthy blooms when they are in full sun conditions.

Can borage be grown in pots?

Borage can easily be grown in a pot indoors. Simply ensure it is set by the window and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Additionally, deadhead the flowers after they’ve been in bloom for a while, so that it doesn’t release seeds indoors.

Can borage survive frost?

Borage can handle temperatures on either side of the spectrum. They can survive both extremely hot temperatures and extremely cold temperatures. That being said, make sure that you do all of your harvesting before the first frost of the season, as the flowers and leaves will quickly wilt.

How tall does borage get?

The stem of a borage plant can be anywhere from 20-30 inches in height, and they are quite gangly and thin. The green/gray stem of this plant is also covered in the prickly fuzz which naturally deters insects.

How quickly does borage grow?

Pollinators are very attracted to borage flowers, and will quickly pollinate the flower. Flowers are in bloom in June or July, and depending on their growing location, can last anywhere from 1-4 months in bloom.

What is borage oil good for?

Borage seed oil is particularly beneficial for skin conditions. They help soothe disorders like eczema, and can help soother itchy scalps and rashes as well.

Is borage good for bees?

Borage flowers attract honey bees and other pollinators greatly. This helps gardens by increasing pollination. Additionally, the nectar that comes from borage flowers has a very pleasant and fresh aroma, and these characteristics go into very lovely tasting honey as well.

Is borage deer resistant?

Because of the prickly fuzz covering the leaves and stems of the borage plant, this makes the specimen both resistant to deer foraging and resistant to pesky insects as well.

What do you use borage for?

The plant itself is also edible, both its leaves and its flowers! They have a distinct cucumber flavor, and are used to flavor salads, soups, spreads, sandwiches, and add a lovely flare to cocktails as well.

What other names is borage known by?

There’s a chance you’ve heard of borage before, but heard it under the pseudonym of star flower or bee bush. This plant has been awarded these nicknames due to the shape of their beautiful flowers, and because they are an ultimate favorite landing spot for bees and other pollinators.

What does borage taste like?

The leaves and stem of borage has a distinct taste of cucumber, whereas the flowers have more of a sweet honey taste.

What is the medicinal value of borage?

Borage has also traditionally had a medicinal purpose. Leaves contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids as well as amabiline and thesinine.

Borage seeds are where borage seed oil is extracted from. Borage seed oil contains many healthy acids, such as omega 6 fatty acid, gamma linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, lineolic acid, and many more. Borage seed oil is usually marketed as “starflower oil”.

The plant parts like seeds, leaves, and flowers can all be brewed into a borage tea, creating a special medicinal herb brew concoction. These herbal remedies are known to aid against respiratory and cardiovascular troubles!

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