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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Starflower, bee flower

Latin Name: Borago officinalis

Plant Family: Boraginaceae

Close Relatives: Comfrey

Uses and Markets: Culinary: consumed as a fresh vegetable or dried herb, Medicinal: source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), Natural health product:  traditional medicinal uses, Personal care products: skin creams.

Field of borage Borago officinalis flowers. Borago officinalis developing seed pods.
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Borage is commercially produced in several countries including Canada, for its seed, which is the highest plant source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).  Borage will not self-pollinate and so requires a minimum of 2 bee hives/ha of production.

Propagation method

Seeds.  Plant at a depth of 1.25 to 2.5 cm depending on soil moisture.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Spring when temperatures are above 10°C.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

7-17 kg seed/ha (16.2g/1000 seed)

Between row spacing

20 – 60 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. Research from other jurisdictions indicates a nitrogen requirement of up to 75-100 kg N/ha. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained soils, avoid heavy wet soils.

Soil pH

Acidic to alkaline, pH 6-8.

Special requirements for growth habit

Seed shattering decreases with increased planting density due to less wind movement of the crop.

Optimal Temperature Range

Temperate climate, cool temperatures increase GLA content.

Temperature sensitivity

Drought sensitive

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

100 days

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest.  Swath when most mature pods begin to shed.  Combine 7-10 days later.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Machine harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Seed shattering remains an issue with this crop.  Borage has indeterminate growth making it possible to harvest twice.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Dry to 10% moisture

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): N/A

Temperature: N/A

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: N/A

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Aphids* Japanese beetle


Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Caterpillars (Vanessa cardui)

Diseases: Powdery mildew, white mould (Sclerotinia spp.)

Other: Birds

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario:  aphids.  When it is grown as a fresh market culinary herb, this crop is in Crop Group 19:  Herbs and Spices Group and subgroup 19A:  Herb subgroup.  The Herbs and Spices Group is being revised and may change in the near future. When it is grown as an oilseed, this crop is in the new Crop Group 20:  Oilseeds Group and subgroup 20A:  Rapeseed Subgroup. 

For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section. Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product. For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Aphid damage to borage
Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Trends in new crops and new uses. J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds).  ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
  2. Berti, M.T., S.U. Fischer, R.L. Wilckens, M.F. Hevia and B. L. Johnson. (2010). Borage (Borago officinalis L.) response to N, P, P and S fertilization in south central Chile.  Chillean J. Ag. Res. 70(2):228-236.
  3. El Hafid, R., S.F. Blade and Y. Hoynao. (2002). Borage culture on the black soil zone of Alberta, Canada.  In: Trends in new crops and new uses. J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds).  ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
  4. Gilbertson, P.K., B.L. Johnson, M.T. Berti and M.A. Halvorson. (2007). Seeding date and performance of specialty oilseeds in North Dakota.  In: Issues in new crops and new uses. . J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds).  ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
  5. Janke, R. and J. DeArmond.  (2004).  A Grower’s Guide: Borage (Borago officinalis).  Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service Bulletin MF-2608.
  6. Laurence, R.  (2004). Borage production for oil and gamma-linolenic acid.  Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Government of Australia.  Publication number 04/040.