Growing Borage, also Burrage, Bugloss

Borago officinalis : Boraginaceae / the borage family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
                    P P

(Best months for growing Borage in New Zealand - cool/mountain regions)

  • P = Sow seed
  • Easy to grow. Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 50°F and 77°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 8 inches apart
  • Harvest in 8-10 weeks. Use leaves before flowers appear, otherwise they will be 'hairy'. .
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Strawberry, tomatoes, zucchini/squash. Deters pests from many plants.
  • Borage (CC BY-SA 2.0 David Wright)
  • Borage flowers

A tall, attractive plant, often grown in flowerbeds. Bright blue star-shaped edible flowers. Grow in a sunny spot with well drained fertile soil. Borage dies down in the winter, but probably you will not need to buy any more seeds as it self seeds quite vigorously and spreads around the garden. Luckily, it is so attractive that it adds to the general design.

Will grow almost anywhere but prefers well-drained soil. Can be transplanted when young but older plants do not move well.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Borage

Has a slight cucumber taste which goes well in salads and when cooked with silverbeet or cabbage.
The flowers make a pretty drink decoration when frozen in an iceblock.

Your comments and tips

03 Jan 22, Barbara (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Although all the plant books say borage is pest free, I find that for some years now it has been colonised in my Auckland garden by a leaf miner, presumably the echium leaf miner Dialectica scariella ,self introduced here from Australia 20 odd years ago. They were trying it over there as a biological control for Paterson's curse ( didn't work very well). This infestation causes really unsightly brown patches on the leaves. I have noticed it also on my Pride of Madeira, another echium, but since those leaves are bigger it is not so obvious.
23 Apr 20, Susan (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Please note that bugloss is an echium. Think Vipers Bugloss (Echium vulgare), common in Otago and also makes great honey; and Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans). The Boraginaceae was split into eleven distinct families in 2016, of about 2000 trees shrubs and herbs including comfrey and forget-me-not - see the wikipedia entry for more information.
10 May 19, NC (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Want to grow borage through the winter in Hamilton. Successful do you think?
11 Aug 18, Barbie (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
We are in Taupo where we get a lot of frosts. Our borage plants are unaffected and just keep on flowering week in week out. In Auckland our borage plants died back in late summer.
21 Apr 16, Raewyn McConnell (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Our Borrage plants, in a bed of light, well drained but nourishing soil, have grown wonderfully and are now in full flower (22.4.2016) They are large, but are showing signs of what appears to be collar rot. Could this be because they were mulched and it is an unseasonally damp summer, or because they have grown larger than usual and become too close together; shutting out sun to the roots? Need to know for the safety of future crops.
22 Mar 12, Penney (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I had organic blue Borage growing over this summer 2012 just North of Auckland, and have dug it up now as it was not in a good place, but heaps of bees and bumble bees visited it and now I have heaps of healthy little new Borage plants coming up everywhere and it is mid March. I have re potted them into plastic plant bags with potting mix. I thought I might try selling them at a market, but will they live? I see you say it dies down in are my efforts going to be to no avail?
28 Oct 11, Duncan (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
Borage is a dynamic accumulator, which means that it collects and stores a lot of nutrients within its biomass. It sends down a long taproot, extracting nutrients from the sub-soil and massing them within the plant. The easiest way to benifit from this is to simply cut the plant back and use it as mulch. Also, the small leaves and be eaten within salads etc, and the larger ones cooked like spinach/silverbeets. They have a slight cucumber flavour to them. The flowers contain a chemical thought to help prevent cancers, although this could use more research.

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