Symphytum officinale is the true Comfrey, the original healing herb of myths, legends and folk-lore.
Essential ingredient in the compost heap
While the eating of Comfrey comes today with warnings of possible ill effects, it certainly remains as an essential for making good compost heaps. A few leaves tossed in the compost with each layer is a great accelerator to hasten the heap.
Handy in a difficult flower corner
But it is also a great asset to the decorative garden, to the veggie plot, or the orchard.
In the decorative garden the trusses of nodding bells in shades of purple, lavender and blues are pretty enough to win a place. But it is it’s ability to thrive in Dry Shade that I find very useful, where the Comfrey’s large leaves make an excellent groundcover in a difficult shaded back corner under old trees.
Winner for the veggie plot and orchard
However bees and other valuable insect friends love to forage in Comfrey flowers, and will flock to the rich nectar, live and pollinate in your veggie patch or orchard.
While rabbits and deer avoid eating it and probably dislike the hairy leaves as well as the taste
Symphytum officinale has a long tradition of being used as a popular healing herb, since at least the 12th century.
So it has gathered many common names along the way, including Bone-set; Knit-back; Backwort and Bruisewort to testify to its use as a poultice.
While it is not recommended today to ingest Comfrey, nothing can change it’s ability to grow in difficult places and decorate tricky spots.
It is wonderful for binding difficult banks
Decorate tricky spots
Plant Comfrey in Part Shade to Deep Shade, where it is resistant to dry periods.
It can also tolerate poor, infertile or difficult soils including clay, acid or alkaline, and put up with competition from tree roots.
And it is probably not a good idea to put it in prime, fertile positions where it can easily become too much of a good thing.
It is just about bullet proof to pests, diseases and neglect, and makes a good container plant.
Comfrey is very frost hardy.
SEED SOWING ADVICE: QUICK & EASY
Sow the seed just under the surface and tamp in securely. If germination does not occur after 3–4 weeks, a 30 day period of cold, moist refrigeration followed by warm conditions will speed germination appreciably. Grow the seedlings out in pots for about 3 months, then transplant to the garden. You can also sow seed directly into a fertile bed in the spring. If you don’t want the plants to spread, then cut them back before they go to seed and mulch the crowns with the leaves. This will also quickly improve the soil.
Growing: Symphytum officinale
– Height with flowers: 75-90cm. approx.
– Width: 60cm approx.
– Position: Part Shade, Dappled Sun, Deep Shade and even Full Sun. Although harsh sun may scorch the leaves, the plant will bounce back happily.
– Soil: Will tolerate most soil conditions, including soggy, but prefers to be well drained.
– Fragrance: –
– Frost: Hardy.
– Growth: Herbaceous Perennial.
– Attracts: Bees as well as other beneficial insects.
– Beware: Symphytum has been used for many years for medicinal purposes, and is even referred to as a herb, but it can have poisonous effects if ingested. It is perfectly fine to handle but it is advised not to eat the leaves, so caution must be be taken.
– Care: Easy low maintenance plant. Remove spent flowers and growth to keep a tidy plant.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Known to be a good deer and rabbit resistant option because they do not enjoy the taste or texture.
– Origin: Native to parts of Asia and also Europe.
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