Comfrey, scientifically known as Symphytum officinale, is a hardy perennial herb traditionally used for its healing properties. Its high allantoin content promotes tissue repair and regeneration. Because it can survive in areas where winter temperatures drop as low as -40 F and extremely hot areas of 120 F and more, comfrey can be successfully grown in several plant hardiness zones.

Comfrey’s stems are straight and sturdy and can grow up to 2-3 feet tall. They are often hairy and may have a slightly reddish tint. This pretty plant produces clusters of tubular flowers that resemble bells. Depending on the variety, flowers can vary from white to pink, purple, or blue. They are typically arranged in spirals along the stems and bloom from late spring to early summer.

How to grow comfrey in the garden 

Choose a location. Comfrey prefers rich, moist soil with good drainage and partial to full sunlight. Select a location in your garden that receives at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.

Prepare the soil. Comfrey thrives in soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve fertility and drainage.

Obtain plants or root cuttings. Propagate from root cuttings and crown divisions or purchase young plants. If you’re starting from root cuttings, ensure they have at least one bud or eye.

Plant: Plant comfrey root cuttings or young plants in the prepared soil, spacing them about 2-3 feet apart. Plant root cuttings horizontally just below the soil surface.

Water: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the first few weeks after planting, to help establish roots. Once established, comfrey is relatively drought-tolerant but will benefit from occasional watering during dry spells.

Mulch. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or compost, around the base of the comfrey plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and provide nutrients as it breaks down.

Maintain. Comfrey is a low-maintenance plant but benefits from regular pruning to encourage new growth and prevent it from becoming too leggy. Cut back the foliage to the ground level in late fall or early spring.

Harvest. Harvest leaves once the plant is well-established, typically in its second year. The leaves should be cut near the base of the plant. To ensure continued growth, avoid harvesting more than one-third of the plant at a time.

Divide. Consider dividing mature comfrey plants every few years to rejuvenate them and prevent overcrowding. Dig up the plant in early spring or fall, divide the crown into smaller sections with a sharp knife, and replant them in prepared soil.

Pests and disease control. Comfrey is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but occasionally, it may attract slugs, snails, or aphids. Monitor your plants regularly and take appropriate measures if pests become a problem.

How to use comfrey for wellness

Comfrey poultice. Create a poultice by mashing fresh comfrey leaves or mixing dried comfrey root with warm water to form a paste. Apply this paste directly onto wounds, bruises, sprains, or strained muscles to promote healing and reduce inflammation.

Comfrey salve. Infuse comfrey leaves or roots in a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil over low heat for several hours. Strain the oil and mix it with beeswax to create a healing salve. Apply this salve topically to minor cuts, scrapes, burns, or insect bites to accelerate healing.

Comfrey tea. Steep dried comfrey leaves or roots in hot water to create a tea. Due to its mucilage content, which soothes and protects the digestive tract, drinking comfrey tea may help alleviate gastrointestinal issues such as ulcers and gastritis.

Comfrey tincture. Prepare a comfrey tincture by macerating fresh or dried comfrey root in alcohol (such as vodka or brandy) for several weeks. This tincture can be applied topically to bruises, strains, and sprains to reduce pain and inflammation.

Comfrey bath. Add dried comfrey leaves or roots to a warm bath. Soaking in a comfrey-infused bath can help soothe sore muscles, joint pain, and minor skin irritations while promoting relaxation.

Comfrey compress. Soak a clean cloth in a strong infusion of comfrey tea or diluted comfrey tincture. Apply the soaked cloth directly to the affected area, such as a sprained ankle or swollen joint, to reduce pain and inflammation.

Comfrey ointment. Mix comfrey-infused oil with melted beeswax to create a healing ointment. This ointment can be applied to minor cuts, scrapes, burns, and rashes to accelerate skin repair and reduce scarring.

Learn more about healing plants and remedies

If you want to learn more about using plants for wellness, pick up a copy of Grow Your Own Pharmacy. In this book, I unpack how to grow and use 51 of my favorite medicinal plants and include step-by-step instructions on how to make herbal home remedies.

 

Happy Growing,

Hi There! Susan Here.

(aka the Earthen Mamma)

As a Certified Health Coach, Master Gardener, and Author, my goal is to equip and inspire you to live the healthy and sustainable life you deserve.

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