With blue, star-shaped flowers, borage makes a lovely ornamental. Its young leaves have a refreshing, mild cucumber-like fragrance and traditionally been used in salads and lemonade. The flowers can be candied!
How to Sow
Sowing Directly in the Garden:
- Direct sow in average soil in a sunny or lightly shaded area, after danger of spring frost.
- Borage is an attractive flowering annual in cottage gardens or borders, or planted with herbs and vegetables.
- Remove weeds and work organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil; then level and smooth.
- Sow seeds about 12 inches apart and cover with ¼ inch of fine soil.
- Firm the soil lightly and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days.
- This gradually to stand 18-24 inches apart when seedlings are 1-2 inches high.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
- Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. For herbs, an organic mulch of aged bark or shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
- Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
- Discard plants after they bloom.
- Borage will self-sow where it is happy.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
- Harvest leaves and flowers in the morning after the dew has dried before the heat of the day.
- Pick flowers before they are fully open.
- Both flowers and young leaves are edible. Add the flowers to wine, use them to decorate cakes, or try crystalizing them.
- Leaves may be dried in an area with good air circulation out of the direct sun for one to two weeks. Store or use when dry but still green, discard any black leaves. To store put them in glass or plastic containers with lids. They will lose their flavor over time but can last for one year if properly stored.
- Flowers may be frozen, and they may be candied.
- Borage leaves and flowers may be preserved in vinegar.