Borage is an old herb, known at least since Roman times. It is said that borage gladdens the heart, and surely the purple flowers are cheery. But even the small, young leaves are slightly prickly, and the plant may seem rather coarse to a new gardener. Still, it can add color and interest to any garden, and it has value in the kitchen as well. For the avid herb gardener, it’s a must.
Borage is also known as star flower. The flowers are, indeed, a star shape with 5 pointed purple or pink petals (flowers are often pink upon opening, and then turn purplish blue). The star shape is enhanced by five green sepals that appear at each spot where two petals meet, around the center of the flower. There is a cultivar of borage that produces white flowers as well. Borage leaves do contain a small amount of silica which may irritate the skin of sensitive individuals, so handle with care, whether they are fresh or dried. The leaves, stems, and sepals of borage are covered with fine, silvery or white hairs that give the plant a soft sheen. The hairs may add to the plants appearance, but some people find the bristle of hairs discourages them from putting borage to greater use in the kitchen.
Borage is a medium-height plant and will do well in the middle of a flower border.
The greatest glory of borage is at the very top of the main stems, where the droops of borage flower buds are congregated en masse. Planted in the middle of a flower border, with some shorter plants in front, it is a well-balanced display.
Borage is very useful in the garden. It attracts bees, which increases pollination of nearby plants. Borage may also enhance the growth of tomatoes (by confusing and repelling tomato hornworm); brassicas (by repelling and confusing cabbage worms); and strawberries may do better when grown near borage.
The smaller, younger leaves are best in fresh salads since they are not quite as bristly as the older leaves. If you still find them too disagreeable to eat fresh, you may find they are more useful when they’re chopped up and added to soups or sautéed dishes. Remember that borage tastes like cucumber, so wherever cucumber flavor is needed, borage is likely to be able to act as a substitute. Borage can also be used only for the flavoring during the cooking, and then removed from the dish before serving.
Info source: http://www.homesteadandgardens.com
Genus - Borago
Species - Officinalis
Common name - Borage
Pre-Treatment - Not-required
Hardiness zones - 3 - 10
Height - 0,60 - 0,90 m
Spread - 0,45 m
Plant type - Annual herb
Exposure - Full sun to dappled shade
Growth rate - Medium
Soil PH - acid, neutral and basic (alkaline), can grow in very acid (pH 5.80-7.60)
Soil type - Average to rich
Water requirements - Moist but well drained
Landscape uses - Containers, Garden Beds, Allotments, Bee plant
1. Sow outdoors in small pots/seed trays or directly in the ground in a dry sunny position thinly, cover lightly with compost (needs complete dark to germinate).
Sow any time from April and throughout the growing season. To ensure a continuous supply, sow at 4-weekly intervals.
Germination period is 7 to 14 days when temperatures reach about +15°C or above.
2. Thin to 3 plants per pot or 35-45 cm apart in the row when the plants are about 12mm/1/2" tall. This is most easily done with a pair of tweezers.
3. Once the plants are established with a good root system, divide into separate plants and transplant to 30cm/12" apart.
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