Growing borage for Chelsea

by Jekka McVicar

It's always exciting when we move the stock outside from the polytunnels to 'harden off' and 'grow on', so that they're just perfect for the Chelsea Flower Show.

Herbs - borage pots lined up outdoorsIt's always exciting when we move the stock outside from the polytunnels to 'harden off' and 'grow on', so that they're just perfect for the Chelsea Flower Show. I guess it's rather like farmers letting cows out onto the grass after a long winter.

It's so rewarding to see the plants all lined up, waiting for their May debut in the best flower show in the world. This week we moved the borage that was sown at the end of December. It's fortunate that borage is a hardy annual, because within a few days of being outside our plants have experienced wind, rain, hail and sunshine. I'm pleased to report no damage has been done - they're looking good and flowering spikes are appearing.

Herbs - borage flowersBorage is a great herb for vegetable gardens. The flowers attract bees, which then pollinate plants such as runner beans and strawberries. Borage also attracts blackfly, which then theoretically leave the other plants alone. Equally, when planted near tomatoes, it's said to attract pollinating insects, increasing yield, as well as controlling tomato worm.

With six weeks to go until the Chelsea Flower Show, I'm avidly watching the weather forecasts. I urgently need to get more of the stock outside, not only to 'harden off' but also to restore leaf colour. This is particularly noticeable with red- and golden-leaved plants, whose leaf colour intensifies when they're moved outside. As the plants in the show gardens are permanently outside, colour isn't a problem. For my display in the Great Pavilion, it is. During the show I notice the colour change after a day of being inside the pavilion. By the end of the show the golden-leaved herbs will have turned green and herbs which had vibrant red foliage will be a subdued brownish-green. So it's important to start with the best colour I can, so that the herbs are shown in all their glory.

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Gardeners' World Web User 01/01/2007 at 00:00

Gardeners' World Web User 10/04/2008 at 17:08


Gardeners' World Web User 12/04/2008 at 21:11

Sow your seeds in a small pot of multi purpose compost covering the seeds to twice the depth. Place in a warm place until shoots start showing through. Do not let the seeds dry out. Once seedlings are large enough transfer to a larger pot and keep watering and feeding on a regular basis. Or plant in the garden when the frosts have passed. Do not disturb the roots when planting them in the garden as this may encourage plants to self seed.

Gardeners' World Web User 13/04/2008 at 19:39

I grew coriander last year, dead easy full sun but you must keep picking the leaves or it goes quite straggley. there is nothing to beat home grown coriander

Gardeners' World Web User 23/05/2009 at 10:35

I have just got a free small pot of grown coriander and the roots are showing out of the bottom, do I re-pot it, does it spread or will it just stay as it is. I know to keep picking it, just wondered if it spread or the plant gets bigger??

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