This plant is a very vigorous selection that will naturalize in most situations spreading its magic wherever it may go. The leaves, stems, and flowers of comfrey make a superior fodder for livestock and will turn your compost heap into an oven. You can make a compost tea with the greens or make a world class healing salve with the greens or roots. This variety has the lowest levels of the potentially toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Any way you slice it, comfrey is a must-have for any herbal garden.
If you aren’t interested in making seed, cut back the plant to the crown the moment it starts to flower to force bigger leaves to grow.
Common name: True Comfrey
Botanical name: Symphytum officinale
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Hardiness: -15 F
Scarification/Stratification: 30 days cold moist conditions in the fridge then sow warm or plant in late winter/early spring
Sow temp/season: Sow in 40 F soil in the late winter/early spring
Germination time: If stratified, two weeks. If sown cold, 30 days and ongoing.
Sow depth/spacing: Sow seed 1/4” deep in deep flats or pots
Final spacing: 2 feet
Final height/spread: 18-24” high and 18-24” final spread
pH range: 5.5-7.5
Soil type: Any well-drained soil type will do.
Nutrition Will do well with a little, will explode with a lot. Balanced feed will suffice.
Drainage: Doesn’t like wet feet. Good drainage a must.
Water requirement: Medium to high
Sun: Full sun to part shade.
Time to maturity: Will flower the first year.
Hilling: Can add an inch of mulch over the crown in the winter.
Suckering: Will shoot and spread from the crown.
Propagation: Crown division, root cuttings or by seed.
Hybridization: Will hybridize if planted within ¼ mile of another type.
Uses: Leaves, flowers and root can be fed to livestock or the dried leaves and root make wonderful salves, oils, tinctures, or poultices.