The borage herb is an old fashioned plant that can get up to 2 feet or more. It is native to the Middle East and has an ancient history in war as an enhancement for bravery and courage.

Growing borage provides the gardener with cucumber-flavoured leaves for tea and other beverages as well as bright starry blue flowers for decorating salads. All parts of the plant, except the roots, are flavourful and have culinary or medicinal uses.

While not as common as thyme or basil, borage herb (Borago officinalis) is a unique plant for the culinary garden. It grows quickly as an annual but will colonize a corner of the garden by self-seeding and reappearing year after year.

June and July are heralded by the presence of the borage flower, an appealing, small, brilliant blue bloom with attracting qualities. Indeed, the plant should be included in the butterfly garden and brings pollinators to your veggies.

Planting borage with strawberries attracts bees and increases the yield of fruit. It has limited culinary use in today’s foods, but the borage flower is often used as a garnish. Traditionally the borage plant was used to treat many ailments, from jaundice to kidney problems.

In medicinal use today it is limited, but the seeds are a source of linolenic acid. Borage flowers are also used in potpourris or candied for use in confections.

Be assured you want the plant to regrow annually or remove the flowers before it seeds. Growing borage requires a dedicated space in the home garden. Borage Herb Harvest Sowing the seeds every four weeks will ensure a ready supply of borage flowers. The leaves may be picked at any time and used fresh.

Dried leaves have little of the characteristic flavour so the plant is best consumed after harvest. Leave the flowers alone if you are hosting a honeybee colony. The blooms produce an excellent flavoured honey!

Borage is a very important flower for both bees and beekeepers. The flowers which grow around the stem appear from early spring right through to autumn, provide both pollen and nectar in prodigious amounts throughout the season.

Garden visitors can be converted to herbal advocates simply by offering a taste of its white flower. They are pleasantly surprised to find it has a definite but subtle cucumber aftertaste. The edible, star shaped flowers add an unusual touch to summer salads and cakes, or can be used to decorate drinks like lemonade, iced cocktails and cordials.

External contact with fresh borage leaves may cause skin rashes in some sensitive persons. The prickly hairs can be irritating so you may wish to use gloves when handling the plant.

Plant Uses:

Cottage/Informal Garden, Flowers Borders and Beds or Wildlife Plants. Beekeeping, Companion Plant, Culinary Herb

Companion Plants:

Borage is good companion plant to have in the vegetable garden as the insects it attracts make good pollinators for crops. It is a very useful companion plant to strawberries, as they are believed to stimulate each other’s growth.

As a companion plant to tomatoes, it is believed that borage deters tomato worm, and is thus a natural form of pest control. Borage is attractive to blackfly, this can be used to advantage by planting it as a decoy close to one’s fruits and vegetables to prevent them being blighted – an excellent companion plant for beans and peas.

Borage is also good as a green manure. Its long taproot brings up nutrients from the subsoil that remain in the leaves. Before the plant flowers the plants can be dug back into the ground to release the nutrients back into the topsoil.

Culinary Uses:
The flower, which contains the non-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid thesinine, has a sweet honey-like taste and as one of the few truly blue-coloured edible things, is often used to decorate desserts.

Vegetable use of borage is common in Germany, in the Spanish regions of Aragón and Navarra, in the Greek island of Crete and in the Italian northern region Liguria. Although often used in soups, one of the better known German borage recipes is the Green Sauce (Grüne Soße) made in Frankfurt. In Italian Liguria, borage is commonly used as filling of the traditional pasta ravioli and pansoti. It is used to flavour pickled gherkins in Poland.

The leaves and flowers were originally used in the manufacture of Pimms before it was replaced by mint.

Historical Uses:

In folk tradition, borage has long been believed to dispel melancholy and ease grief and sadness.

According to Dioscorides, borage can ‘cheer the heart and lift the depressed spirits’, while Gerard wrote that its flowers were used in salads ‘to exhilarate and make the minde glad’ while cooks used them ‘for the comfort of the heart, to drive away sorrow, and increase the joy of the minde’.

The Greeks and Romans believed that the herb was a source of courage and comfort, and there are references to the flowers being embroidered into medieval tapestries and the colours of jousting knights. The blooms were even floated in drinks consumed by Crusaders before battle. The American settlers carried borage seed with them on their long journeys across the Atlantic Ocean.

Medicinal Uses:

European herbalists use borage for both internal and external uses. It is used in homeopathic remedies and as a flower essence. It is a cooling, cleansing and refreshing herb with adaptogenic, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The starflower has been chosen as the emblem for National Cancer Day by the Cancer Research Campaign. The flower will adorn buttonholes on May 23 has been used in the worldwide treatment and research of cancer for 700 years, according to the charity. In recent years, borage has been shown to contain gamma linoleic acid (GLA), an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is active against various cancers, including breast, brain and prostate. It prevents the spread of malignant tumours by restricting blood vessel growth.

Borage has the most potent concentration of gamma linoleic acid found in nature, containing twice as much as is found in the evening primrose, and which is used to treat pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). It is now possible to buy capsules of borage seed oil from health food shops for this purpose.

Home Uses:

A poultice of crushed Borage leaves is soothing and healing to skin inflammations. It will relieve insect bites and stings, reduce swelling and bruising and is also helpful for clearing up boils and rashes.

Borage tea can be made by taking a small bunch of leaves and flowers and simmering in boiling water. Steep for five minutes and strain. If mixed with honey, this can help if one is suffering from a cold. Borage tea will relieve fevers and promote sweating. It is a beneficial treatment for dry cough, throat irritation, chest colds and bronchitis.

Borage tea is also a good remedy for such digestive disturbances as gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome. It is also said to help cure a hangover.

Always consult a medical practitioner before embarking on any program. The information on this page is not diagnostic, therefore always consult a herbal practitioner or your GP in order to obtain a diagnosis. Never stop taking prescribed treatment without consulting your GP or a qualified herbal practitioner. Do not take without qualified medical advice.


Grow Notes
The oval leaves are hairy and rough with the lower foliage pushing 6 inches in length. Borage plants may grow 12 or more inches wide in a tall bushy habit.

Borage grows well in a position with full sun and will tolerate partial shade. The plants will happily grow in just about any soil type if it drains well and likes to be kept somewhat moist throughout the growing season.

Borage can be perpetuated by allowing the flowers to go to seed and self sow. Pinching the terminal growth will force a bushier plant but may sacrifice some of the flowers. Borage herb is not a fussy plant and is easy to grow.

Borage can be grown year-round if you avoid planting in extremely hot or cold weather which can affect germination and growth.

Borage can be sown early indoors or directly outdoors once the soil has warmed. It is not suitable for container growing as it has a very long tap root.

For direct sowing prepare a garden bed that is well turned over with average organic matter. Ensure that the soil is well drained.

Sow seeds directly into the garden after the last date of frost at a depth of 3mm. Space 10-15cm apart and water in well.

Thin the Borage herb to at least 1 foot when the plants measure 4 to 6 inches tall.

For raising seedlings, fill trays with a good quality seed-raising mix and sow to a depth of 10mm. Keep soil moist till germination.

Transplant the indoor seedlings when large enough to handle into boxes, spacing them 5cm apart. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost 15cm apart in full sun and well-drained soil.

The young Borage must be handled carefully; especially when it is being transplanted from one place to another as it has a very long tap root that is easily damaged.

5 – 21 days at 21°C

80-90 days

In stock

Seed Count: 12

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