Medicinal borage is a lively vegetable patch plant with its blue flowers and fuzz-covered stems. This beautiful plant is also full of health benefits for the skin and to alleviate a variety of disorders.
Take a look at what it can do for you, and how to grow it in the garden!
Medicinal borage: Borago officinalis
Borage is a herbaceous annual that is part of the Boraginaceae family. Tall stems grow that support large, green, oval leaves with two distinct characteristics: marked veins, and fuzz all over! At the tip of each stem, star-shaped blue flowers have five petals. Red-violet stamens form a cone in the middle of the petals.
This plant is a volunteer plant in temperate climates, it usually appears in gardens on its own. A nice place for it is along the edges of the vegetable patch, in particular for its slug-repellent properties!
A rarer occurrence: white borage
There is also a white-flowered variety: Borago ‘Alba’. The medicinal properties of the white-flowered variety are virtually indistinguishable from those of the more common blue and violet-flowered ones.
Therapeutic benefits of medicinal borage
Borage is the skin’s best friend. It increases skin softness, delays aging, prepares cells to face off harsh sunlight, hydrates, helps tissues heal, reduces wrinkles, stretch marks and dermatosis.
Borage also reduces pain due to rheumatism and menstruation. This beneficial plant enhances digestion, increases energy levels, and soothes cough.
How to ingest borage?
Oil made from borage seeds
Borage oil can be extracted from the plant’s seeds. A typical therapy spreads over a month, with just a teaspoon of oil per day. This will help better your skin quality and will reduce pain due to rheumatism. You can also rub it into your skin to soften it. Rub it in soft circles with your hands.
Another possibility is to pick the leaves and flowers and prepare an infusion from them. Toss about ¾ oz (20 g) of dried plant material in 1 quart water (1 liter). Bring to a boil, then steep for 15 minutes. This infusion will work wonders on cough and on patches of irritated skin. It has tonic, laxative and expectorant properties.
Growing borage in the garden
Borage loves full sun! Place it in a rich substrate that is deep, cool, and drains well. This annual is sown every year from March to October. To spread the blooming in time over the entire season, it’s best to stage the sowing since it blooms quickly. Once you’ve raked out the weeds, toss the seeds on the soil with a wide, loose throw of the arm. Cover with a thin layer of soil and drizzle water over it. Keep the soil slightly moist until seeds start sprouting. Once seeds bear 3 to 4 leaves, thin them out, leaving about 16 inches between plants (40 cm). Alternatively, you might want to sow in a seed tray and transplant the nursery pots to the ground once they have 3-4 leaves each.
Like most annuals, borage doesn’t require much care at all. Do go ahead and pinch the tip off when it gets 4 inches tall (10cm). This will trigger branching out, which leads to lusher growth and delays going to seed. Watering is only required for 3 weeks after planting, and then again, if it rains, you don’t need to worry about that at all.
How to harvest borage?
This easy-going plant will bloom about two months after sowing. If you haven’t staged the sowing in batches, nothing to stress about: it will also certainly self-seed on its own. You can then harvest as needs arise. In a normal year, you can start harvesting in June, and keep picking flowers and leaves until the first Winter frosts. As you harvest, you can also recover seeds for the following year’s sowing! Leaves and flowers can be set out to dry to prepare infusions later on.
A beneficial plant
- Indeed, it’s among the melliferous flowers that attract pollinators and help them reproduce.
- In the vegetable patch, it’s said to repel slugs and, not to be overlooked, increase the savor of strawberries!
- This generous plant also enriches the soil with potassium and calcium.
Lastly, borage is an excellent compost activator: it triggers sustained composting activity in the pile.
Borage tea by Dewdrop under Pixabay license
Morphology of a borage flower by Elaine with Grey Cats under © CC BY-SA 2.0
White borage flower by Jacinta Lluch Valero under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Borage oil by Marina Pershina under Pixabay license
Borage plants by Protopian Pickle Jar under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Seeds, borage, dried by Jnzl under © CC BY 2.0
Visiting borage by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work