Borage, which is also called the starflower originated in Syria, but spread throughout the Mediterranean region, as well as Europe, North Africa, Asia, and South America.
Bees love borage flowers and are attracted to gardens where it blooms.
Its also said to strengthen the pest and disease resistance of plants growing around it, particularly strawberries.
Borage is another herb that has beautiful flowers and will surely add lots of colour to any garden.The blooms are edible as are the leaves. Leaves smell and taste of cool cucumber and are a welcome addition to salads and dips. Young leaves are eaten fresh in salads and sandwiches. Older leaves that may be too hairy to eat fresh are cooked as a vegetable like spinach or added to soups for their cucumber flavour. Peeled and chopped stems can be eaten as well for all parts of the plant taste like cucumber.
Borage is an annual herb that grows up to two feet tall and three feet across. Large, oblong leaves alternate up the hairy stems. Leaves are also hairy, soft to the touch and fuzzy. Flowers are in loose clusters that tend to dangle or droop. The flowering stalks may have a reddish cast to them. Five blue, pointed petals make the blooms look like stars. Sometimes the flowers are white or rose-coloured, but usually they’re blue. It’s not uncommon to have pink flowers and blue flowers on the same plant.
Borage is an annual that grows to 3 feet tall.
Flowers: It has clear blue, star-shaped flowers about 3/4 of an inch in diameter that bloom in drooping clusters from midsummer to frost. Each flower has interesting black anthers at its cone-shaped center.
Leaves: The broad hairy leaves have prominent vains. The leaves on the upper portion of the plant are alternate and grow up to 6 inches long.
Flower and fragrance: Borage leaves and flowers have a salty, close-to-cucumber taste.
How To Grow
When To Plant: Sow in peat or newspaper pots six to eight weeks before your last spring frost date. Transplant the seedlings to the garden or direct sow the seeds after all danger of frost has passed.
Where to plant: Borage prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade, particularly in southern areas. However the plants usually do best in cooler weather.
Soil and fertility: Plant in moist, fertile, well-drained soil.
Plant spacing: You'll want to allow about 2 square feet per plant.
Pests: Borage is usually pest-free.
Diseases: Its susceptible to root rot in soggy soils.
When to harvest: You can harvest the leaves anytime in the growing season, gathering them in the morning when the dew has dried. Pick the flowers when they're fully open in the morning after they're dry.
How to harvest: Snip individual leaves or strip them off the cut stems. Snip the flowers or pinch off the entire cluster.
Freezing: Freeze borage flowers in ice cubes for a decorative touch in iced drinks.
Cooking: Borage has a flavor similar to a cucumber. You can mince some leaves in yogurt or snip them over soups , salads, curries, fish, and chicken dishes. Steam the leaves to eat as a vegetable. You can also add the fresh flowers to salads.
Vinegars: You can use the leaves to make a lightly flavored vinegar.
Crystalizing: Crystalize the flowers for decorations on pastries and such.
Medicinal: Borage leaf tea is said to be slightly laxative in action.