Everyone who is devoted to growing their own should have a patch of comfrey somewhere in their plot. This flower is a high-value product which can be used in various ways to add fertility to your garden. It can be used as an animal fodder as well as a high potash plant food and the pretty flowers will also attract bees and other beneficial insects to the garden. For many different reasons it is a favourite with small-scale organic gardeners.

Growing Comfrey:

Some strains of comfrey self-seed very easily and so it is recommended that gardeners grow only the sterile variant, Bocking 14. If you do not you may soon find your garden overrun and this can be quite a problem as the very long tap roots make comfrey very difficult to get rid of. Bocking 14 cannot create viable seed so there will be no problems with the plant spreading unless you want it to.

Comfrey is usually sold as root pieces or crown offsets that can be planted in good soil in situ or in potting compost. You can then easily propagate your comfrey when it is over one year old by cutting the plant in two and taking one half apart to provide plenty of root cuttings and crown offsets. The root offsets should be around 2.5 cm in diameter and though they take a little longer to develop than the crown offsets they should create equally productive plants. If you are propagating your comfrey, be sure to remove the leaves from your crown offsets as the comfrey will need to put its energy into root formation rather than sustaining the leaves.

It is tolerant of very wet conditions and shade and can therefore be grown in a place not suitable for many other plants. Once established, comfrey is also extremely tolerant of dry conditions. When choosing where to plant your comfrey, make sure that you pick your spot carefully and remember not to place them somewhere you will want to move them from later, as due to the long roots it is difficult to completely eradicate the plant from a spot once it is established there.

Why grow comfrey in the garden?

Comfrey plants take nutrients from deep in the soil, where many other plant roots do not reach, thereby making them available to other plants in your garden. Due to the fact that it is fairly tolerant of shade, comfrey is perfect for orchards and forest or layered gardens.

Comfrey leaves can be used in various ways to return the nutrients mined from deep down in the soil to the topsoil for the use of your vegetables, trees or other plants. They can be laid on top of the soil as a mulch, either shredded or whole, or they can be made into a potash rich plant feed, 'comfrey tea'. Alternatively, comfrey can be added to a compost heap and as it is high in nitrogen will act as a compost 'activator'.

Comfrey tea is made by steeping comfrey leaves in water to make a stinking brew that can then be diluted and makes a wonderful plant feed. (Just keep a lid on it and don't keep it too close to the door to your house.)

Bees love comfrey and so will several other types of beneficial insect, so comfrey is also a good addition to a wildlife garden.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Symphytum x?uplandicum