Companion Planting forum: Borage in hot climates

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Jun 14, 2013 11:16 AM CST

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This is my third year growing Borage and I love it but it has such a hard time dealing with our heat!! The plants grow great, they get big and send up their flower stalks and then bloom and almost immediately they start to wither away.

Our temps are in the mid 90s and I'm pretty sure it's the heat that's killing them. Is anyone else seeing the same thing with their Borage? Any ideas?
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jun 15, 2013 1:06 PM CST

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I know exactly what you are talking about, Dave!! And you are right about Borage not liking our summer heat! The best way (so far) that I have found to keep the Borage around is to plant it amoung some taller plants so that they can shade the plants from the afternoon sun. Last year I planted them right under the tomatoes. Of course they still seem to wither away before summer is over! I'm still trying to find a way to keep them around all summer so if I figure out a way, I'll let you know. Smiling
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Jun 15, 2013 7:31 PM CST

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I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one. That really does make me feel better.

This year I am planting them in several places and one place is directly under tomato plants, where they are in the shade almost all day. They are doing "okay". I think it's not so much the sunlight as it is the lack of water. That's my current theory, anyway. I'm irrigating the borages and we'll see if that makes a difference. So far the ones that I'm watering are doing MUCH better than the ones that have to make do.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Jun 16, 2013 8:59 AM CST

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Okay, I'm gonna try that too.

I was just thinking, last year I had a borage plant that I left in the pot and it actually lasted the longest! Probably because I kept it watered. I thought maybe it was the afternoon shade! Hmm!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Jul 1, 2013 7:18 PM CST
I usually pull my early plants when they decline, and new ones pop up to take their places. The new plants usually bloom nicely for a couple of weeks before they're eventually killed by frost. Granted, I do scatter seed as I pull plants and consequently need to pull extra seedlings, but to me at least, it's worth it. Smiling
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Jul 1, 2013 7:32 PM CST

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I haven't seen mine set seed yet. Lots of flowers but no seeds.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Jul 1, 2013 8:04 PM CST
When they do show up, you could try scattering them. Next year some of them might germinate under the first plants and be almost mid-sized and ready to take over once the first round of plants are pulled. That's my take on what's happening here at any rate.
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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chelle
Jul 2, 2013 3:15 PM CST
I can confirm this. Almost every flowering plant I've left in place has a smaller one growing close to, or under it. I'm assuming the taller ones help the shorter ones survive the heat. I know our hot season isn't as long as some, but last year was exceptionally brutal and we still had two crops of blooms. Smiling


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Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
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Anderwood
Aug 4, 2013 9:24 PM CST
I am in North St. Paul, Minnesota zone 4. I planted borage theee years ago, and haven't had to plant in again. It is so prilific in re-seeding! We have had a pretty hot summer, but nothing like Texas. I dont water mine, and it does fine. It is randomly all over my vege garden. I put some in my compost, and leave some ti re-seed. @Dave, I have heard thet improve the flavor of the plants they are around. Is this a myth? @Trish, do you have some in your herb spiral? I am anxious to see that!

I live to eat the flowers. Anyone like like them? They are pretty frozen in ice cubes.
These photos are in the morning after a rain.
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Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Aug 5, 2013 6:18 AM CST
I've grown both the white and the blue borage and find the same results. The plant grows well and begins to bloom. Then the temps/humidity rise and the plant flops.

I wondered this year if it was the moisture levels so grew borage in a few containers which stood in a bed of water and got the same reaction. My bet would be the temperature and humidity in the south.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Aug 5, 2013 7:04 AM CST

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@Anderwood, borage is praised as a companion plant and although I can't point to the evidence, I am sure that it improves the flavor and vigor of tomatoes. We also love to eat the flowers. Smiling

I wish it grew better for us down here. They just struggle all summer long.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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chelle
Aug 5, 2013 9:22 AM CST
Do you still have seeds left over to plant for fall, Dave? Maybe then you might get mature plants that will scatter seed for you? Shrug!
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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Aug 5, 2013 9:45 AM CST

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Anderwood, lucky you with that lovely display of borage.

I have borage on my list for fall sowing. Thumbs up
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 5, 2013 9:53 AM CST

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We have managed to keep borage alive all summer this year and they are setting seed. I'm looking forward to seeing if they reseed themselves, which would be really nice.
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
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Anderwood
Aug 5, 2013 11:27 AM CST
@Dave, how/why does it improve the vigor of the tomatoes?
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 5, 2013 11:34 AM CST

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Reid, I don't know how or why. I wish I did. I've read a lot about the subject of companion plantings and while I'm pretty well versed in what plants go with what plants, I can't tell you why it is the case.

What does Basil do to cause tomatoes to grow so well, and taste so good? I'll likely never understand the real reason. Same with the carrots.

But we know that borage is a dynamical nutrient accumulator, especially of calcium, something that tomatoes need for healthy fruit walls. Borage also is a powerful deterrent of the tomato horn worm. Borage also attracts pollinators as well as wasps, the latter of which can possibly attack pests attacking your tomatoes.

I can't remember the last time I saw a tomato horn worm. It's been a few years now.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Aug 5, 2013 7:09 PM CST
I just stumbled on this thread and Dave, your last post is very interesting. I just happen to plant my basil next to my tomatoes. I had no idea it improves their flavor. In fact, when we were having issues earlier with something eating the tomatoes and I thought it was slugs since we had so much rain this year, my husband read that basil attracts slugs and I was ready to stop planting it near my tomatoes. (By the way, it turns out it was NOT slugs).

We planted borage one year but I had no idea what to do with it. So it is also a good tomato companion plant? I did remember somewhere reading to freeze the flowers in ice cubes.(who does that now days with automatic icemakers? Big Grin )

I think I'm going to have to hang around this forum. It looks like there's a LOT TO LEARN here!
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
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Anderwood
Aug 5, 2013 7:35 PM CST
Thanks Dave, I appreciate your reply Smiling
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Sep 26, 2013 5:23 AM CST
Borage likes cooler growing conditions.
It reseeds up here in zone 3 .
Borage is a bee magnet too.
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Oct 17, 2013 7:05 PM CST
We get regular reseeding here in zone 5b/6. It does not like our heat in mid-summer, either.

Depending upon location, reseeding can be almost invasive. Up where I manage some demonstration herb beds, each spring we have to yank lots of it out. I love the purple flowers, and the fact it is edible and an attractor of pollinators. I plant it near my tomatoes, so the borage gets some shade from the larger tomato plants. It seems to reseed more gently in partial shade.
[Last edited by mom2goldens - Oct 25, 2013 7:26 PM (+)]
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