Borage (Borago officinalis) is an excellent plant choice in many organic gardens. There are plenty of reasons to grow it where you live. A relatively hassle-free annual flowering plant, borage can be a great option for many temperate climate permaculture gardens.
I have borage growing in my forest garden, where it self-seeds reliably every year. The edible flowers give an additional yield. But I mostly grow it for its excellent bee-friendly properties. This is a plant that boosts biodiversity, drawing in plenty of beneficial pollinators and strengthening the ecosystem as a whole.
If you want to grow your own, and want to create a wildlife-friendly garden – borage is one of my top picks for plants to grow. It is also a great option as a companion plant in fruit tree guilds, and works well alongside a range of common garden crops.
Why Borage is So Good For Pollinators
Borage’s flower structure makes the nectar very easy to access. And the long blooming period means that there will be nectar around for pollinators over a long period. But it is the speed with which the plant replenishes the nectar in its flowers that makes borage such a boon for bees.
The speed at which nectar is replenished in flowers differs from species to species. Borage is a nectar factory – replenishing nectar within a matter of just a few minutes – far more quickly than many other flowers.
When it comes to providing plenty of nectar for insects in your garden, there are plenty of great plants to choose from. Clovers, comfrey and a range of aromatic perennial herbs and flowers are also amongst my top picks. But when it comes to the plants for pollinators in my garden – borage really is very near the top of the list.
Borage is not just for the bees. It attracts a wide range of beneficial insects. This includes predatory insects that can help keep aphid and other pest numbers down. And once borage goes to seed, birds will benefit too – including a range of finches. And remember, once you have attracted the insects to your garden, the other wildlife will come to prey on them.
Careful planting and garden management can help make sure you work with the natural world where you live. If you need help with integrating wildlife friendly plants like borage in your garden, or want a wildlife-friendly permaculture plan for your garden, please do get in touch.