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Featured Plant – Borage

Here is a fun little plant: Borage (Borago officinalis).

Borage1

It actually looks like a weed most of the time, but if you can be patient long enough, you are rewarded with brilliant blue flowers. These flowers are edible and can be used in beverages or as garnishes on desserts, tea sandwiches, fruit salad…you get the picture.

My borage plant is in full bloom right now. So, let me tell you all about it…

Borage has a messy, straggling growth habit. It reaches one to two feet in average soil and up to four feet in very rich soil. The hollow, hairy stems need staking in windy areas or they will snap. Each stem will bear many clusters of drooping, blue flowers. Borage grows easily in full sun and can tolerate poor soil. Sow directly into the garden in the springtime. It has a long taproot and does not transplant well. You only need to sow seed once because borage will self sow each year after that. I have not had a “weediness” problem with it at all. It is easy to control.

Once you grow borage, what do you do with it?

Use the flowers to decorate food trays, dinner plants or just throw a few into your next summer punch bowl. Try freezing individual blossoms in ice cubes and adding them to summer beverages. They hold their color and shape through the freezing process.

They can also be candied and stored in an airtight container to add to any festive dessert plate. If you are a crafter, you can dry the flower heads and add them to potpourri for color.

The young leaves of borage have a cucumber-like flavor and can be added to a fresh, green salad.

Sound good? You can pick up seeds at these mail order sources. Plant in the spring.

Renee’s Garden Seeds

Nichols Garden Nursery

The Cook’s Garden

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.