Growing True Comfrey From Seeds

The flowers of True Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) are generally very richly arrayed and colored dark purple.  The leaves are lance-shaped and not so broad as those of Russian Comfrey.

True Comfrey is really the nicest of the Comfrey clan in my opinion.  From the luscious leaves to the thick, mucilage-laden roots I find nothing to compare. For years I thought Comfrey did not make seed, because I was not aware of the true plant, which is seed-productive, although the seeds are not so easy to collect. The seeds ripen and drop on an ongoing basis.  They are large, shiny and black, wedge-shaped yet rounded, smooth and sensual to the touch.

They are best planted in very early spring in outdoor conditions, or given a good 30 days moist refrigeration before planting in the greenhouse or receptive garden bed. Seedlings grow fast and in time send down a good taproot.  You really have to grow them for 2 years before adequate root yield can be obtained.  In the mean time, the leaves can be harvested, preferably just prior to flowering.  In Zones 4 to 8, it would seem reasonable to expect a summer harvest of leaf in the first year, and at least 2 harvests of aerial parts per summer in successive years.

I use fresh comfrey leaf for feed, veterinary, and compost purposes; dried comfrey leaf in salve; the fresh root as a poultice. I could not long live without Comfrey.

Comments 7

  1. Comfrey has been a favorite and there are various examples around our garden. The flowers are purple and a beautiful addition to the herbal bouque! I didn’t know growing from seed is an option and will go to my supplier for some.

  2. I am in southern California, San Gabriel city which is near Pasadena. Can I grow comfrey now in the garden from seeds?

  3. Will I ever be successful growing comfrey here in Phoenix Arizona? I here it’s also great for bringing nutrients from deep in the soil. And winters here are warm most of the time

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Lori, In order to grow good comfrey in hot climes you have to think about the aerial parts and the root system both. If you give about 40% shade to the leaves and plant into rich, well-drained soil, mulch around the plant with straw and water frequently, you can get monumental individuals. Comfrey is good for almost everything. richo

  4. I live in South Texas. I have some Comfrey seed that I purchased awhile back. When is the best time to plant these? Would you suggest direct sow or start in containers and then plant when the small plants come up?

    1. Post
      Author

      These can be planted anytime in Texas. Give the seed a couple of weeks of moist refrigeration in medium before planting in a warm place. It always makes sense to plant perennials in pots and then transplant out–it is more saving of the seed and gives better control and better overall results. If you don’t have a reasonable place for growing plants in pots (sunroom, greenhouse) then direct seeding in a clean seedbed is also a workable choice.

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