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The Wonderful Comfrey

By dave
March 24, 2015

Comfrey is incredible. It's a soil builder, a fertilizer, a compost enhancer, has medicinal properties, is a good feed source for animals, and much more. Let's talk about this chief of plants.

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Name: Mary K
Safety Harbor, FL (Zone 10a)
Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Region: Florida Tomato Heads Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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p1mkw
Mar 23, 2015 6:47 PM CST
Nice article, Dave. I can personally attest to the medicinal properties. I make a salve with comfrey leaves and calendula petals. It is beyond amazing at speeding up healing of minor cuts and scratches. I didn't realize though all the other benefits of this plant ... definitely sounds like something worth making room for.
Mary K.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 23, 2015 9:27 PM CST
Great article, Dave.
I obtained roots from two different traders and the Comfrey was growing really well in a raised bed.

One thing I learned is that after rabbits have eaten all 'the good stuff' in the garden during the winter months, they will start eating the Comfrey as a last choice food. I'm not worried; it will grow back.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Mar 24, 2015 6:26 AM CST
Thanks for a good article on this plant.
I still do not have it, but will look for it.
(seedlings of the symphytum officianale died off)
Now will look for roots of the Bocking one.
[Last edited by CarolineScott - Mar 24, 2015 6:27 AM (+)]
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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
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Mindy03
Mar 24, 2015 8:56 PM CST
Great article Dave.
If you want to start a hen chase throw over one leaf.
The first to grab it runs like crazy and others chase after her.
I started feeding them comfrey last year and they are doing much better since then.

Mine is just now getting big enough to use in other ways.
Name: Ric Sanders
Dover, Pa. (Zone 6b)
And his children Are his flowers ..
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Eric4home
Mar 25, 2015 9:16 AM CST
The only problem I have with comfrey is getting rid of it. Hilarious! I use quite a bit of it to feed the veggie garden and compost. I used to feed it to the goats and chickens too, when we had them. Here in Pa. it can be slightly invasive, and to remove it can take a couple of years if it was well established. Getting all the tap roots can be difficult and persistence in digging any sprouts is the only way to get it all.
For the most part I find it's benefits outweigh it's drawbacks. I agree
Ric of MAF @ DG
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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greene
Mar 25, 2015 9:42 AM CST
When I grew Comfrey in Connecticut it was beautiful. I divided and replanted and had a ton of it...until we got ducks. Six ducks demolished every trace of Comfrey in record time. It never grew back.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Mar 25, 2015 11:46 AM CST

Plants Admin

Great article Dave. 'Bocking 14' roots look to be available. Any tips on propagating it from root cuttings?
Evan
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Mar 25, 2015 11:49 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

It's actually really easy to propagate from roots. Most roots that have any substance to them will sprout new growth. So you just plant them and inside a week you should see new growth coming up. It's literally the easiest root propagation you can do that I'm aware of. Smiling
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Mar 25, 2015 12:24 PM CST

Plants Admin

Sounds good, thanks!
Evan
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Mar 25, 2015 6:31 PM CST
Great information...thank you for an informative article, Dave.
Name: Maggie Labouisse
Canton (Zone 7a)
Thank you, Nancy Goodwin!
MaggieMoonbeam
Mar 28, 2015 2:05 AM CST
I suppose if you have livestock or prefer to use natural remedies that Comfrey can be a valuable plant. Anyone familiar with one of its common names, Boneset, will not be surprised that it has been used to speed healing of broken bones.
But my old half-shady garden, on what was left of a 1/8 acre city lot after what the house and paving covered, was too small to allow a bully plant like Comfrey to establish itself. I was lucky, as gardeners had been improving the soil continuously since 1920, and the dirt was gorgeous, black, friable and fertile.The only thing I ever added to the soil was the new humus from fall leaves allowed to rot in black plastic bags for a couple of years, and of leaves I had an inexhaustible supply. I suspect my predecessors did much the same thing.
I planted a tiny nursery pot of Comfrey in my small herb plot at the suggestion of one of my favorite cousins, and I soon felt like Jack after he planted the beanstalk. Oh, boy, did it ever GROW!! Comfrey may indeed be great as a fertilizer and to speed composting, but a lot of its value has to be due to the astonishing rate at which it sucks nitrogen out of the soil.
As the smaller, less competitive herbs around it gave up the the ghost, the Comfrey grew bigger and bigger. So I decided to take it out. Little did I know what a bad idea THAT was. Not being big and strong, I wasn't able to dig up the entire HUGE taproot in one try, and in the process I broke off many small pieces, which remained in the soil. Each of those pieces quickly became new plants, and my herb garden became a Comfrey patch. A BIG Comfrey patch. Eventually my friend and I dug up the entire bed and riddled the soil to find every bit of that beastly plant. For me, it was a disaster. My advice? If you really want it, choose its site with care, for you are likely to have it forever.
Maggie in the Oak grove in GA

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