There are three varieties, the most common being Borago officinalis, conspicuous with its blueish leaves.
Borago officinalis Alba has white flowers.
Borago officinalis Variegata – has variegated leaves and blue flowers.
This annual herb grows to around 300mm (12") high, and the 25mm (1") wide blue, pink, purple or white flowers appear in July and continue flowering through till the frosts.
Among its uses are;
Its cucumber aroma makes it a useful ingredient in a salad.
It can be used as a substitute for spinach or cabbage.
It has a slightly salty in flavor which is useful if you are on a salt reduced diet.
The fresh flowers can be added to salads, candied and used as cake decorations or dried and put in a pot pourri.
They can also be frozen into ice cubes to make attractive additions to drinks.
It is said that it has many medicinal properties and has been used over centuries for treating ailments such as sore throats and poultices for swellings.
It is also said that the Ancient Greeks added it to wine and drunk the wine before going into battle.
Apart from being a useful herb they offer the gardener other benefits;
The flowers are a source of nectar and attract pollinators in the form of bees and insects.
This attribute makes it a useful companion plant in the greenhouse.
It is also good as a green manure, providing the plants are dug in prior to it flowering.
Borage is quite easy to grow, and can be grown in the herb garden or containers.
It has a tendency to spread quite rapidly so container growing might be the better option.
The essential things are, it wants to be grown in a sunny sheltered site, with well-drained moist fertile soil.
It can be sown directly into the soil after all risk of frost has passed, or grown under cover for tranplanting in late spring.
Week 16: Sow the seeds under glass in trays of seed compost and germinate at 16°C (60°F).
Germination should take about 5 -7 days.
Week 18: Prick out seedlings into boxes or cell trays when large enough to handle.
Week 21: Plant out 300mm (12") apart in an open sunny position.
Thin out insitu sown plants to 300mm (12") apart and water in dry weather.
Borage is a prolific self seeder so regular dead heading is required to prevent them self-seeding all over your garden.
If a few seeds are required for propagation the following year, wait until the flowers begin to fade, then pick them off the plant and leave in a dry place to dry.
Place the dried flower heads in a paper bag give it a shake and this will seperate the seeds from the seed heads.