The Complete Guide to Growing Comfrey

The Complete Guide to Growing Comfrey

The Complete Guide to Growing Comfrey

The Complete Guide to Growing Comfrey

Scott’s been hard at work on our new house site with more trees coming down every weekend. Soon it’ll be time for me to start moving some of our existing perennials up there and possibly adding some new ones too. Comfrey is something we’re already growing a lot of and it’ll be really easy to move some up. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with comfrey (no shame, I wasn’t until Scotty peaked my interest in permaculture) it’s an awesome plant to add to your garden for a number of reasons. It’s frequently used in permaculture and herbal medicine.

Comfrey makes a great mulch and compost. It’s super hardy so you can cut it back and use the leaves for mulch. Mature plants can be cut multiple times per growing season.

You can also make a tea from comfrey leaves and water plants with it for an extra boost of nitrogen.

It’s often planted around fruit trees to block weeds and the outer leaves will lay down and compost, providing both mulch and nutrients as they decompose.

Comfrey also has long roots that bring nutrients up from deep in the soil. You’ll sometimes here it referred to as a “nutrient miner” as it brings these nutrients including a lot of nitrogen to the surface where they can be utilized by gardeners!  

Comfrey also makes excellent feed for some livestock. Research your animals specifically before feeding though!

Herbal Medicine

Comfrey has long been used as an herbal remedy and is often referred to as “knit bone” It has been used to treat a variety of ailments including acne, bone breaks, sprains, burns, and bronchial problems. Part of what makes comfrey so helpful is its high content of vitamin A and calcium.  

Growing Comfrey

Another great thing about comfrey is that it’s so easy to grow. Whether your a beginning permaculturalist or just getting started in herbalism comfrey should be one of the first additions to your garden. 

Comfrey can survive as a perennial in areas with -40° F winter temperatures and does well in extremely hot areas, 120° F, as well (zones 3-8). As I previously mentioned it can also handle multiple harvests each season. Perfect right?

To grow your own supply of comfrey you’ll need comfrey seeds or comfrey root cuttings. Personally I’ve never grown or known anyone to grow comfrey from seed but it’s totally possible. Comfrey root cuttings are often the chosen route because they’re readily accessible and they give your comfrey a jump start meaning that you can harvest sooner. You can also plant comfrey cuttings anytime the soil can be worked. This means spring, summer, and fall in most places. They’re simply pieces of root, usually 1-3 inches long so if you have a neighbor with comfrey plants go barter for some! Or you can just purchase some from us right here… hint, hint.

While comfrey is extremely hardy it prefers fertile soil with a pH between 6.0-7.0 and full sun to partial shade. Comfrey tolerates a variety of soil conditions including sand, loam, and clay and both fairly wet and dry soils. 

When picking a site for your comfrey you should also consider that each individual plant may grow up to 3 feet wide and comfrey has a tendency to spread quite a bit and be rather hard to dig out of gardens if you decide you don’t want it in a certain area anymore. 

Once you’ve chosen your spot and you’ve got your comfrey cutting you can plant the cuttings about 2-3 inches deep or if you have cuttings that you can identify the top you can bury them at the same level that they were previously growing. To kickstart your comfrey you can dig a bigger hole than needed, 1-3 gallons, and replace the soil with good, fertile compost prior to planting. Be sure to water your comfrey and keep it moist for at least a couple weeks after planting. 

Comfrey may also be grown in pots but it does best in containers that are at least 5 gallons because of their expansive, quick growing root systems. 

Before harvesting any it is preferable to let your comfrey get well established, at least three months from when you planted the root cuttings. If you grow from seed you’ll need to wait longer. However if you do have an immediate need before three months for a few leaves to use medicinally you probably won’t hurt it as long as you leave most of the plant.

Ready to grow some comfrey? Visit our Etsy shop to purchase your roots! We have a limited supply so plan ahead!

This post is linked to The Simple Homestead Blog Hop and 

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10 Responses to "The Complete Guide to Growing Comfrey"

  • I wish I had realized how large comfrey grows before I planted it…but I still love it! We just started having warm temperatures last week and already mine are putting out flowers. Amazing plant…

  • I wish I had realized how large comfrey grows before I planted it…but I still love it! We just started having warm temperatures last week and already mine are putting out flowers. Amazing plant…

  • Oh yeah, I have a tendency to really cram things in. You'd think I'd learn and it drives Scott crazy haha. Our comfrey has spread out of the garden and taken over about half of an old pasture. I love it though!

  • Hiw is this a complete guide? I was hoping to learn how and when to plant my seeds. The article gives great information, but the title leaves many questions unanswered

  • I love everything about growing comfrey. So many uses for it, and it a pretty plant in your garden!

    • To be honest, I’ve never lived in a hot dry climate. However, I believe you could grow it. I would probably try to offer partial shade. You should also mulch it in well and water it fairly often to keep the soil moist.

  • Mine are in the house right now and keep dying off. I bought them as roots and didn’t have time to get them in the ground. Now it’s snow covered and frozen. I feel like I’m watering too much or not enough. They’re in a south window, I don’t know what to do. I hope I don’t lose them all. I started them in a hood soil.

  • I have comfrey growing in large grow bags and they look great. But i am wondering if the leaves are as nutrient rich as the one grown directly in the ground because the root system will not have the long tap root.

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