Last week’s post looked at an introduction to borage oil and how it is used in aromatherapy practice. In the second post of the current trilogy, we are taking a quick look at how borage is useful in the aromatic garden. This is a plant which is easy to grow for beginners, directly from seed, and it has a few advantages in the garden, in addition to enjoying its beautiful blue flowers!
Description of Borage as a Plant
Borage (Borago officinalis) is perhaps not the first plant you would think of adding to your aromatic garden as it doesn’t actually have an aroma! Its use in aromatherapy is as a carrier oil, not an aromatic essential oil. However, what it lacks in aroma, borage makes up for in visual impact. It’s true – this plant is not an automatic showstopper, and you might even overlook its brillant blue, starry flowers at first due to their modest (some would say, small) size. Its large hairy leaves and stem tend to overwhelm the flowers at first glance. However, plant borage “in bulk,” and you”l be pulled in by the blue flowers, popping out at you from the mass of green leaves.
A botanical profile of borage was discussed in the first post of this series.
How to Grow Borage
Borage is described as an annual or biennial plant. However, it does self-seed, and I have found a few plants popping up in unexpected places in the garden! Depending upon your climate, and considering the date of your average last frost in spring, it’s possible to grow borage from direct sowing the seed in your garden. It needs little care and attention (although it will wilt if not watered frequently in hot weather), so pretty soon you’ll have shoots coming through the soil. Sun and water are borage’s friend, so provide enough of both, and borage will bless you with its presence in your aromatic garden!
Borage can be planted in groupings of other borage plants, alongside other herbs and aromatic plants in the garden, or as a beneficial companion plant and/or pest repellent.
Borage as a Companion Plant and as a Pest Repellent
Borage is a friend to many plants in the garden; there aren’t many plants it doesn’t get along with, but it is cited as one of the best companion plants for tomatoes, squash, and strawberries by various sources.1
What is a companion plant? A companion plant, just like a human companion, is good to have around as it provides support, growth, and/or protection. In the case of borage, borage will attract beneficial pollinators such as bees, and repel garden pests that may attack plants such as tomatoes, squash, and strawberries.
Permaculture with Borage
Permaculture draws on the natural world to design a holistic “health care” system for the garden to create and sustain food and resources in harmony with its environment. A simple example is that of organic gardening.2 With regard to borage, the plant is an excellent permaculture worker.
Borage is reputed as adding trace minerals to the soil, thereby improving soil quality and promoting plant growth naturally, and it is a great mulcher and composter.3 It can fix the nitrogen level in the soil by storing what it absorbs from the air in its roots.4
Learn More About Borage as a Carrier Oil in Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie
If you would like to learn more about carrier oils such as borage, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM home study program!
LA Times website, Borage: Companion Plant for Tomatoes, Strawberries, and Squash, accessed from: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/26/news/la-lh-borage-seeds-how-to-grow-20130323
Deep Green Permaculture website, What is Permaculture?, accessed from: https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/permaculture/
Permaculture Research Institute website, All About Borage, accessed from: https://permaculturenews.org/2011/01/21/all-about-borage/
Regenerative.com website, The Best Herbs for Composting, accessed from: https://www.regenerative.com/magazine/best-herbs-composting
Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry and a UK-certified aromatherapist. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.