Borage (Borago officinalis) is one herb that no garden should be without. Its dainty blue blossoms and gray-green foliage are not only decorative, but useful in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes. Borage is easy to grow from seed, and while it is an annual, it reseeds itself easily and new plants will come up year after year. Borage will grow to three feet tall if left untrimmed, or prune it to a shorter height.
Use borage as a companion plant with any other plant in your garden. Borage increases the productivity of neighboring plants by attracting bees and pollinating insects. It repels tomato hornworms if planted with tomatoes, and cabbage worms when planted with brassicaes. Borage plant debris is a beneficial mulch; it contains high levels of calcium and potassium which improve blossom set and fruiting on all fruits and vegetables.
Use borage blossoms as garnish and in drinks. The flowers have a cucumber-like flavor that is very light and refreshing. Add borage flowers to green salads; do this at the last minute as they wilt rapidly in vinegar-based dressings. The plant's flowers can be frosted with sugar or candied to decorate cakes and pastries. Freeze borage blossoms in ice cubes to float in drinks or a punch bowl or add them directly to iced tea, lemonade or ice water.
Add borage leaves to your recipes. The leaves taste of cucumber as well. Chop or shred the leaves and toss them in a salad. Add leaves to soups or stews. They may also be cooked like spinach or mixed with other cooked greens for a bright flavor. Dip individual leaves into a light batter and fry them.
The fresh taste of borage makes it a good herb to use with fish or in fish accompaniments.
Drink borage tea to improve adrenal function and restore strength. It is helpful during convalescence after surgery or to relieve stress. Make borage tea by pouring one cup of boiling water over one-quarter cup of bruised fresh borage leaves and steep for five minutes. Strain before drinking.
Use borage tea as a gargle for a sore throat. The tea is also good for cough, cold and bronchitis. Borage is used to treat digestive problems and irritable bowel syndrome.
Make a poultice for insect bites, stings, and skin rashes including eczema. Chop or shred enough stems and leaves to cover the area of skin you are treating and hold them in place by wrapping gauze around the area.