Traditionally borage was cultivated for culinary and medicinal uses, although today commercial cultivation is mainly as an oilseed. Our great grandmothers preserved the flowers and candied them. Henslow suggests that the name is derived from barrach, a Celtic word meaning ‘a man of courage.’ In all the countries bordering the Mediterranean, where it is plentiful, it is spelt with a double ‘r,’ so the word may be derived from the Italian borra, French bourra, signifying hair or wool, words which in their turn are derived from the Low Latin burra, a flock of wool, in reference to the thick covering of short hairs which clothes the whole plant.
This herb is also the highest known plant source of gamma-linolenic acid (an Omega 6 fatty acid, also known as GLA) and the seed oil is often marketed as a GLA supplement. It is also a source of B vitamins, beta-carotene, fiber, choline, and, again, trace minerals. In alternative medicine it is used for stimulating breast milk production and as an adrenal gland tonic; thus it can be used to relieve stress. In the garden, the uses of borage include repelling pests such as hornworms, attracting pollinators, and aiding any plants it is interplanted with by increasing resistance to pests and disease. It is also helpful to, and compatible with, most plants — notably tomatoes, strawberries and squash. Borage adds trace minerals to the soil it is planted in, and is good for composting and mulching. It is an annual, but readily self-seeds and thrives in full sun. It is so proficient in self-seeding, in fact, that once a borage plant has established itself in your garden, you will likely never have to reseed again.
Sun: Full Sun
Spacing: 12” – 18”
Height: 1’- 3’
Optimum Soil Ph: 5.5-7.0, Ideal 6.0-6.5
Days To Maturity: 50-60
Sowing Method: Started indoors OR Direct sow outdoors
Seeds are best sown in full or partial sun under ½ inch (1 cm) of soil so it’s easy to sprinkle a patch with seeds and then cover it with a few handfuls of soil or compost. The plants can easily grow to be 3 feet (91 cm) tall and 2 feet (61 cm) wide, so give them room to grow, and let them shade your partial sun plants. Treat this easy-to-keep herb well and it will reward you with scores of beautiful flowers, lush foliage, and fertile soils.