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Introduction on how to grow comfrey in the backyard
I have been searching for comfrey for a long time. I even bought seed that didn’t sprout. And weirdly enough, I found comfrey about half a kilometer away from my door. It was growing as a weed just next to a canal.
So, when I found it, I went home, took a small shovel and went back to cut out some of the roots. the plant itself is still growing strong and I have three root cuttings from it, I planted out in my garden.
what is comfrey?
Comfrey is considered a weed for many people. But most people don’t know what advantages the plants have as food for other plants and the compost heap. so knowing how to grow comfrey in the backyard is really worth it.
It’s also a plant that attracts bees and is good to attract other beneficial insects.
Symphytum officinale or comfrey is a perennial herb, it’s part of the Boraginaceae family. The root is black and looks like a turnip. The plant has large, hairy broad leaves. The flowers are small and have colors varying from cream to purple.
It is a native plant in Europe. Comfrey grows in damp, grassy places and river banks.
Most people that grow comfrey, try to get hands on the comfrey plant that doesn’t produce seeds. I don’t really care. I just think you can never have enough comfrey. And they are really easy to transplant.
where to grow comfrey?
Comfrey loves the sun. If you plant or sow comfrey in the shadow, it will eventually die off.
You don’t have to be too concerned with the soil as long as there is a lot of compost or fertilizer in or on the soil. The plant grows fast but it sucks up a lot of nutrients as well. So, try to keep the soil mulched with rich materials to feed the plant.
Comfrey is one of the plants where you can literally pee on and the plant will like it. Not many plants are this forgiving. If you want to do that, just make sure not to overdo it. You could put the soil full of salts if you do it too much, killing off the soil life in the process.
The plants do take a lot of space. So, planting a comfrey plant on 1 square meter will help the plant grow to it’s fullest potential. That’s about 9 square feet.
The plant will easily grow in hardiness zones 4 to 9.
When to grow comfrey?
It’s possible to grow comfrey from seed. The seeds do need a period of cold to be viable. You can put the seeds in the fridge for a month and then plant them out. Keep the seedlings indoors until the last frost has passed.
Once the plants are established, they will grow in the warmer period and die back to the ground in the winter. They will come back in spring as the root is really cold hardy.
taking care of comfrey
Comfrey isn’t a difficult plant at all. You just have to keep it moist and well-fed and it will flourish and thrive.
Make sure you cut off the leaves in time when the weather is rainy because the plant is prone to powdery mildew attack.
Let the plant grow its first year without harvesting any leaves so it can get settled. Make sure the root system is well-developed before you take away too many leaves and weaken the plant.
I already talked about sowing comfrey but it’s also possible to take cuttings from the plant. This is one of the best methods to grow comfrey.
Root Cutting in how to grow comfrey in the backyard
The first method I’ll discuss is root cuttings.
Root cuttings can be lateral roots that are about 4 inches or 10 centimeters. The easiest way is to start the root cuttings in pots in a greenhouse or indoors. The greenhouse will give more protection and the plants will thrive before they are planted in their final spot.
Just lay the roots flat and cover with about 2 inches or 5 centimeters of soil. It will take some time for the roots to develop a big plant. The plant can take up to 1 year and more to develop a fully developed plant. Comfrey roots will take up to 4 years before the plant is fully mature.
Make sure you give the young plant everything it needs and remove any weeds that compete with the young plant.
Crown cuttings or offsets are cut sections with growing buds. These cuttings will show plants earlier than root cuttings.
You’ll need at least 4 inches of root or 10 centimeters of root with new shoots on top.
The crown cuttings can be put in the ground with the shoots pointing up. Put the cuttings in a pot but don’t bury the shoots. So keep the shoots at soil level.
You should get green growth in about 7 days.
transplanting or planting comfrey
I already mentioned how to take cuttings and that’s the best way to plant or transplant comfrey.
If you do want to transplant a fully grown plant, just remove the root gently from the soil. Fill a hole with fertile soil and plant the plant back in the soil at the same level as you pulled it out. In most cases, you’ll be taking cuttings while you transplant the plant.
You can harvest comfrey about 3 to 4 times a year. Just chop off the leaves and use them as compost, mulch. Or you can dry the comfrey leaves and use them as a medicinal herb.
Chopping or cutting of the leaves is the only form of harvesting. Try not to chop off all the leaves. Leave some leaves for the plant to use photosynthesis.
diseases and pests when growing comfrey
Comfrey has minimal problems with pests and diseases.
There’s one disease I came in contact with this year.
Powdery mildew in how to grow comfrey in the backyard
Powdery mildew will show itself by white powdery stuff on the leaves of the plant. The disease will start when there’s too much moisture in the air.
The problem I have is due to the mass of leaves the plant has at the moment and I didn’t harvest the leaves in time.
I don’t really try to solve this plant with products. I just remove the leaves, I give the plant some more airflow and I boil the leaves before I use them as compost or mulch.
I didn’t show all the diseases that can occur on comfrey but if I run into trouble with something, I’ll amend the article.
So this is it for this article on how to grow comfrey in the backyard. I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share on social media, with friends, and other gardeners.
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Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.