Borage (Borago officinalis) is a beautiful annual plant distinguished with large alternating hairy oval spiky leaves and blue starflowers. It grows wildly in the Mediterranean and widely cultivated and used throughout Europe for its magical healing properties and for a great addition to salads and summer drinks.
This wonderful plant is also cultivated in the US and Canada, where it’s popular as an herbal supplement. Also known as bee bush, bugloss, bee bread, and starflower, borage is a pretty plant and together with other, borage will always have a spot in our garden.
Borage is favorite to bumblebees, honey bees, and small, native bees. From the time of ancient Rome to date, the herb has served various purposes. For centuries borage has been praised it for its ability to bring unpleasant forgetfulness and drive away melancholy.
This plant was also believed to lighten people’s spirits and boost their confidence, and beekeepers prefer it for its ability to increase honey production. Even though borage is grown as an ornamental plant, it is a super plant that can be edible and medicinal.
The stems and leaves of borage have a delicate cucumber flavor that can be used in different applications. For instance, the leaves and stems can be chopped to be added to salads while the purple-blue flowers can be used as edible decorations, especially in summer drinks.
Most importantly, there are other outstanding benefits of borage plant worth mentioning. For example, it can be used in soups, borage-lemonade, preservatives, borage jelly, strawberry-borage cocktails, in sauces, or used in desserts in the form of candied or fresh flowers.
The borage plant is a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid, beta carotene, B vitamins, choline, fiber, organic calcium and potassium. It can be used as an alternative medicine to stimulate healthy breast milk production, re-balance the hormonal system, provide relief to swollen legs as a result of insect bites, lower blood pressure, ease depression and alleviate anxiety.
The flowers can ‘cheer you up,’ the leaves can improve the functionality of the kidneys while the seed oil can be used to treat Arthritis, Eczema, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and hangovers.
In addition to its therapeutic and culinary uses, borage can be a great addition to your garden. It repels pests such as hornworms, attracts all kinds of pollinating insects particularly bees because it’s a great nectar source, and aids the growth of other plants thanks to its ability to resist diseases and pests.
What’s more, it’s good for the soil as it enriches it with calcium, potassium, and other beneficial minerals. It is compatible with most plants, such as squash, strawberries, and tomatoes. When planted next to cabbages, it protects them from pesky small white butterflies, and its presence boosts the flavor of strawberries.
As an annual plant, it dies at the end of the season, although self-sown seedlings can germinate for replacement plants. It thrives in full sun, and the blooming period differs according to different growing zones and climate.
With tremendous therapeutic and culinary uses, the question that could be going through your mind right now is, how can I grow this miracle herb myself? Well, the process is simple and straightforward.
First things first, it’s preferable to sow borage in areas with sunny and deep cool humus-rich soil. Scatter your seeds in open soil in rows with about 50 cm between each row and 25 cm between each spot.
Rake to bury the seeds slightly with soil and water them gently. Transplant the seedlings when they have 3 or 4 leaves to either small pots or open soil and give them enough room to grow. If well treated, borage herb will reward you with beautiful flowers, fertile soils, and lush foliage.