Uncovering the Secrets of Borage

By Jon Whitinger

Last Updated - 6/9/2023

Borage (Borago officinalis) is a versatile plant with unique features that make it a valuable addition to any garden. Here we will dig into the history, culinary, medicinal, and horticultural applications of this remarkable herb.

History of Borage

Borage is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region and has been utilized across various cultures for centuries. The ancient Greeks and Romans used borage for its medicinal properties. Other European herbalists incorporated it into their remedies. Even today, borage remains popular among herbalists for its numerous health benefits.

Growing Borage in Your Garden

To grow borage successfully, provide well-draining soil and full sunlight. Borage is best grown from seed, as it does not transplant well. Plant seeds ¼ inch deep, and around 12 inches apart. Sow the seeds in early spring, once the danger of frost has passed. Once established, regular maintenance, such as watering and pruning, helps prevent pest problems. Harvest borage leaves and flowers when they're young and tender, and use them right away or store them in a cool, dry place.

Borage doesn't do well once it gets very hot, so enjoy it during the spring and early summer, and again in the fall.

Borage as a Companion Plant

Borage benefits other plants by attracting pollinators, repelling pests, and improving soil quality. Vegetables like tomatoes, strawberries, and squash thrive when grown alongside borage. Integrate borage into your garden by planting it near compatible plants or using it as a border. Borage is a host plant for lacewings, which are beneficial insects that feed on aphids, thrips, and other garden foes. For more info, read our article about Companion Gardening.

Borage in the Kitchen

Borage leaves and flowers are edible and offer numerous nutritional benefits, including essential vitamins and minerals. Add them to soups, salads, and other dishes for a fresh, cucumber-like flavor. Create refreshing beverages like borage tea and lemonade, or infuse them into cocktails for a unique twist. Preserve borage by drying, freezing, or incorporating it into oils and vinegars.

Medicinal Uses of Borage

Borage contains compounds such as gamma-linolenic acid, which are said to have therapeutic effects. Herbalists have traditionally used borage for skin health, mood support, and other applications. However, exercise caution when using borage medicinally, as it may cause side effects or interact with other medications. It is important to always consult a doctor before using borage for medical purposes to ensure its safe and appropriate use.

Borage for Pollinators and Wildlife

Borage is a valuable nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, playing a crucial role in creating a biodiverse and sustainable garden. Enhance your garden's pollinator appeal by combining borage with other nectar-rich plants and designing a landscape that supports wildlife.

Other Uses of Borage

The vibrant blue flowers and fuzzy leaves of borage create an eye-catching display, making it an attractive ornamental plant that adds color and texture to any garden. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, borage offers various practical uses. Its soothing and moisturizing properties make it a popular ingredient in skincare and beauty products, helping to promote healthy skin. Moreover, borage can be utilized in arts and crafts projects, such as creating natural dyes from its vivid flowers or incorporating the blossoms into stunning floral arrangements, bringing the beauty of the plant indoors.

You can order Borage seeds for your own garden at this page.