Comfrey is the workhorse of a perennial garden! It gives so much and asks for so little...and did we mention that it's BEAUTIFUL?! In addition to its gorgeous leaves and flowers, it gives us home-grown fertilizer and medicine. We grow it around our fruit trees and as a border around our veggie gardens. We simply couldn't grow the amazing things we do in our food forest without this miraculous plant. (Symphytum uplandicum)
Why We Love It
Here are some of the ways we use comfrey...
1) FERTILIZATION - Comfrey is a wonderful chop and drop fertilizer plant. It has deep roots that mine for minerals. This makes it drought tolerant once established and you can cut the leaves and drop them around your plants and trees. You can also make a fertilizer tea from its leaves. The NPK ratio of comfrey leaves is 8:3:20.
2) POLLINATOR ATTRACTOR - The beautiful purple flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden.
3) SOOTHES INFLAMMATION & SPEEDS HEALING - Comfrey's nickname is "knitbone" and this gives a clue about its herbal powers. It can be used as a poultice on broken bones, sprains, and strains. It also is a great ingredient in soothing skin balms.
How to Grow It
Here's how to grow Comfrey:
|SUN||FULL OR PART SUN|
|MOISTURE||LOVES MOISTURE, BUT DROUGHT TOLERANT ONCE ESTABLISHED|
|GROWING ZONES||USDA 3-9 (Not sure? Find your growing zone here)|
|SIZE||2 feet tall and wide|
FROM CROWNS OR ROOT FRAGMENTS: To plant root fragments, place in the ground laying horizontally and water in. They will spring to life for you with ease in the spring through fall and die back in the winter. Keep moist but do not over water which can cause the roots to rot. Very hardy once established. Root fragments can take up to a full season to spring to life. If you want comfrey for this season, comfrey crowns are the way to go. They are the very top of the plant and they will begin to grow almost immediately once you plant them. If you want to get your patch established quickly, we recommend doing a mix of crowns and root fragments.
PRO TIP: This variety of comfrey does not produce viable seeds, so it should stay put where you want it. However, if you disturb the roots, it will cause it to multiply from any root fragments that are left behind. If you want to remove it, cut off water completely and dig out slowly to get the whole root.
How to Harvest & Use It
Here's how we harvest Comfrey:
FERTILIZER: As a fertilizer, we chop and drop the comfrey up to 7 times per season. We cut the comfrey down to 6" high and then lay the leaves around our fruit trees and on our garden beds. It will break down and release their nutrients into the soil.
TOPICAL MEDICINE: Comfrey also makes a wonderful poultice for strains and sprains. Put a handful of comfrey leaves into your blender with enough water to make a thick paste. You can apply this paste directly to your injured joint and wrap with plastic wrap to hold in place. Leave in place for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours for deep tissue healing. You will be amazed at how much this speeds up healing!
Here's a great video about the medicinal benefits of comfrey from the Herbal Jedi:
And here's a great video on how to make a continual supply of nutrient-rich fertilizer that doesn't stink! :) We love to use comfrey, nettles, and borage.