Borage (Borago officinalis) is a popular companion plant in many gardens due to its numerous benefits for other nearby plants and the ecosystem as a whole. Here are some reasons why gardeners often use borage as a companion plant:
- Attracts Beneficial Insects: Borage is a magnet for beneficial insects like bees and predatory wasps. Its bright blue, star-shaped flowers produce nectar that attracts pollinators, helping to improve the overall pollination of your garden.
- Improves Soil Quality: Borage has a taproot that can reach deep into the soil, bringing up nutrients and minerals that are beneficial to other plants. When it dies and decomposes, it enriches the soil with these nutrients, particularly calcium and potassium.
- Deters Pests: Borage emits a strong fragrance that repels certain pests, such as tomato hornworms and cabbage worms. Planting it near susceptible vegetables can help protect them from these pests.
- Companion for Tomatoes: Borage is often planted alongside tomatoes, as it is believed to improve the flavor and growth of tomato plants. Some gardeners claim that borage enhances the health and yield of tomatoes.
- Dynamic Accumulator: Borage is considered a dynamic accumulator plant, which means it accumulates essential nutrients in its leaves and stems. When you cut and leave these parts in the garden, they break down, releasing the stored nutrients into the soil for other plants to use.
- Natural Mulch: The large, fuzzy leaves of borage can serve as a natural mulch, helping to retain moisture in the soil and suppress weed growth. They can also protect the soil from excessive evaporation and erosion.
- Companion for Squash and Strawberries: Borage is also known to benefit squash and strawberries. Its proximity can help improve the flavor and yields of these crops.
- Edible and Medicinal: Borage is not only a useful companion plant but also an edible herb. Its young leaves and flowers are edible and can be used in salads or as a garnish. Additionally, it has traditional medicinal uses for various ailments.
When planting borage as a companion plant, consider its potential for self-seeding. Borage readily self-seeds, which means it can spread throughout your garden. If you want to control its growth, you may need to manage its seedlings or choose to grow it in containers. Overall, borage can be a valuable addition to your garden, promoting a healthy and diverse ecosystem while benefiting your other plants.
List of the best Borage companion plants
Borage (Borago officinalis) is a versatile companion plant that can benefit a wide range of plants in your garden. Here is a list of some of the best companion plants to consider pairing with borage:
- Tomatoes: Borage is often recommended as a companion plant for tomatoes. It’s believed to improve tomato plants’ flavor and health while deterring pests like tomato hornworms.
- Squash: Borage can benefit squash plants by enhancing their growth and flavor. Both borage and squash flowers attract pollinators, which can lead to increased squash production.
- Strawberries: Borage’s bright blue flowers attract pollinators that can help with strawberry pollination. It can also help improve the overall health of strawberry plants.
- Cabbage Family (Brassicas): Borage is known to deter cabbage worms, a common pest of cabbage, broccoli, and other Brassica plants. Planting borage near these crops can help protect them.
- Beans: Borage’s ability to improve soil quality with its taproot can benefit bean plants. Beans are also nitrogen-fixing plants, and borage can complement this by enhancing overall soil health.
- Herbs: Borage pairs well with herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme. It can attract pollinators to herb gardens and help improve herb yields.
- Lettuce: Borage’s shade and moisture retention properties can benefit lettuce crops, keeping them cool and reducing moisture loss.
- Cucumbers: Borage can attract pollinators to cucumber plants, producing better fruit. Its shade can also protect cucumbers from excessive sun.
- Beans: Borage’s nutrient accumulation and soil improvement properties can benefit beans and other legumes.
- Sunflowers: Sunflowers and borage can make an attractive pairing in the garden. Borage attracts pollinators to sunflowers and can help improve the overall aesthetic of the garden.
- Fruit Trees: Planting borage around fruit trees can help attract pollinators, which is essential for fruit production. Borage can also help improve the soil quality around fruit trees.
- Corn: Some gardeners have reported success with borage as a companion plant for corn. The flowers attract pollinators, which can enhance corn pollination.
Borage can be a helpful companion plant. Managing its growth is essential, as it can self-seed vigorously and spread throughout your garden. Regular pruning and removal of excess borage plants may be necessary to prevent it from becoming invasive.