Jana likes to grow stuff, exercise, snack, and explore creative projects as a means to relax and grow.
Who Wants to Grow Comfrey?
People who grow comfrey are mainly after the plant’s medicinal qualities. Indeed, comfrey has a massive following in the world of alternative medicine where comfrey-filled capsules, salves, oils, and bath soaks are popular. Comfrey is not commonly used as an ingredient in food, which, as we will discuss later on, is a good thing.
What is Comfrey Used For?
The perennial has been used as a poultice for thousands of years. The leaves or roots are mushed and applied to bruises, burns, swelling, and sprains. In some countries, comfrey is used to treat inflammation, including gout and arthritis.
There are claims that comfrey can treat gastric ulcers and diarrhoea if taken internally (heads up, swallowing comfrey is not a good idea). If you’re planning on growing comfrey, it’s important to understand the dangers of this plant. You can view a list of precautions at the end of this article.
Interestingly, the hairy leaves contain several compounds that make comfrey a great compost for other plants. If you use comfrey leaves as a mulch, you’ll treat your garden to a good dose of silica, nitrogen, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Can I Grow Comfrey From Cuttings?
Yes, you can grow comfrey from cuttings. This method is perfect for the beginner gardener because it’s so easy and effective. Comfrey is a quick-growing plant. Truly, it’s amazing to watch how fast this plant can replenish itself after a good pruning. Comfrey cuttings also have this zest for life.
- Gather scissors, pots, and a good growth medium.
- Clean the scissors and make sure it’s your sharpest pair! Otherwise, use a blade worthy of the name.
- Fill the pots with potting soil.
- Alternatively, you can choose a sunny plot in your garden.
- The holes must be deep enough to hold a good length of the cutting and keep it stable once you fill the holes up and press the soil against the stem for support.
- Choose healthy-looking leaves with a long stem.
- Don’t go for the largest leaves, they might be hard to keep upright.
- Cut as low as you can and ensure that the scissors or knife didn’t tear or squash the stem.
- Place the cutting inside the hole and add soil to steady the cutting.
- Water gently.
- Place in indirect sunlight for the first few days.
- Keep an eye on the cutting’s hydration. Comfrey wilts very fast when thirsty. Water when the soil seems dry or immediately when you notice any wilting.
- After the first few days, move the pot to soak up direct sunlight for a few hours a day until the plant is established.
- Your cuttings should produce new leaves within a month.
Can I Grow Comfrey From Seeds?
Yes, you can grow comfrey from seeds. However, be prepared for a temperamental, low-yield, and lengthy process. But if you like a challenge and have oodles of time, here are the steps to grow your own comfrey seedlings!
- Gather seeds, a good growth medium, and seed trays.
- Place the seeds inside your refrigerator for a month.
- Fill the trays with soil.
- Plant the seeds.
- Mist the trays. The soil should be moist but not soggy.
- Move the trays to a warm location (a window sill is ideal).
- Mist whenever the soil seems dry.
- Keep this up until the seeds germinate.
- Germination is a fickle thing with comfrey. It might take as long as a year.
How to Take Care of Your Comfrey Plant
Comfrey is happiest with life’s basics. It flourishes in full sun and only needs water every now and again. You can give your comfrey a good organic fertilizer if you want, but this is not necessary. It’s more important to provide sun, water, and ample space between the plants. Once the comfrey is done flowering, you can also prune back the older stems to encourage new growth. Finally, comfrey struggles in pots and would rather grow in the garden.
Managing Comfrey-Loving Pests
The good news is that comfrey is generally free of disease and pests. One persistent creature is the garden snail. I would urge you to find a snail-friendly way to deal with the problem as they’re not out to ruin your day. They’re merely feeding and don’t know that they’re damaging somebody’s plants.
Precautions When Using Comfrey
The commercial sales of comfrey products have been banned in several countries due to the plant’s toxic nature. The main problem is that comfrey contains alkaloids that endanger the liver, among other issues. The damage can be caused by either ingesting or applying a comfrey product to the skin.
In general, it’s a good idea not to use comfrey for medical reasons. Indeed, here’s why the FDA and other scientists are not fond of comfrey’s herbal reputation.
- It causes hepatic veno-occlusive disease.
- Harms the liver.
- Highly unsafe for kidney or liver patients.
- Unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
- It causes skin irritation.
- Comfrey boosts the power of medications capable of harming the liver, including commonly used pain medications like Tylenol, seizure medications like Tegretol, and many others.
A Quick Summary
Comfrey is a beautiful plant. With woolly leaves and bell-shaped flowers, it provides a lush look in any garden. The plants are also easy to cultivate from cuttings. They grow fast and enjoy a relatively pest-free existence, robust health, and need minimal care.
Comfrey has a dedicated following as a remedy despite being ousted by science as a dangerous “herb.” The bottom line is that comfrey is not fit for human use, despite the wonderful claims that surround this plant.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Jana Louise Smit