Borage and Bees
I’ve made a conscious effort to incorporate bee friendly flowers and herbs into my garden over the past few years. When I am able to combine the two, so much the better. Borage is one such plant. Known as the starflower, this bright blue bloom attracts bees and other pollinators. It is also an edible flower, a beautiful addition to your fresh salad greens. Although perfectly safe to eat, use sparingly as the flowers may have a laxative effect for some.
Borage is a hardy annual herb that is fairly easy to grow and once established, self seeds. Both the flower and leaves are edible and have the flavor of cucumbers. The leaves are mildest in flavor before the flowers bloom. The plants is covered with fine white silvery hairs so use gloves when harvesting.
Borage originates from the Mediterranean region. It tolerates dry sandy soil and prefers sunny locations. It blooms in early spring and all throughout the summer well into fall. Borage will tolerate a light frost which makes it a versatile annual. It’s best grown from direct seed and seeds are easily collected once the flower dries and becomes brown.
I started a plat of seedlings which are ready to transplant outdoors. It’s important to do so before the plants become root bound. We are currently experiencing a cold snap over the next two days and hopefully I will be able to plant later this week.
Medicinally, borage is used as a diuretic and to help combat pulmonary ailments. Borage oil is often used to treat arthritic joint pain. Webb MD cautions using borage medicinally due to its PA(pylrrolizidine alkaloids) PA’s are naturally occurring plant defense mechanism found in many plants to rid themselves of insect herbivores. PA’s are hepatotoxic and should be used with caution in patients with compromised livers.
Borage is a great companion garden plant for strawberries, tomatoes and squash and has been identified as preventing the spread of tomato hornworm and the cabbage moth.
The fact that borage nectar is a bee magnet is why I have chosen to sew this very beautiful bright blue flower into my garden plan. I hope you chose to do so as well.