Propagating Comfrey

Few plants can boast as many niche filling functions as Comfrey; which is why I have well over a hundred around the farm and in my food forest (so far).

Less than half of those were purchased or dug up from elsewhere though, thanks to its amazing ability to propagate.

I have Symphytum officionale –the pure species propagated from seed. But the majority of my Symphytum legion are the sterile bocking varieties (a cross between S. officionale and uplandicum). No seeds.

Then there’s the normal method of propagation, dividing the roots. I often get a whole ten plants from one when doing this –the original of course coming back without any attendance. I’ve only done this with two plants though.

IMG_1931 My favorite way to propagate Comfrey is to pick a bouquet of the flowering stalks in late spring, stick them in a vase, and let them sit until they grow roots.

I much prefer this method because the only loss in mulch production and time is the loss of a few flowering stems; whereas you have to wait most of the growing season for seed to ripen; and while waiting for the seed the plant can’t be cut.

Digging disturbs the soil and puts the parent plant out of production until it resurfaces. Although I have to admit that isn’t long. Overall it just takes less effort to throw a few choice stems into a jar and let them grow roots.

IMG_1932 With roots grown, I transplant into pots, and wait for the pots to fill before transplanting out to the system.IMG_1936

In the jar, usually there is a fifty percent success rate for root growth. I have had further losses after potting up, but usually it is one hundred percent success once potted.

Just to illustrate how easy cuttings can root, I have had success just removing the developing flowers from a stem, sticking the stem directly under some fresh mulch, watering, and leaving. Mind, this was in the willow garden, so it was a good situation to begin with. Even compared to the other Comfreys in the willow garden, the resulting plant has been one of my best.

IMG_1947
A true Comfrey from seed on the left and the Comfrey from a cutting stuck directly under the mulch to the right. They’re both a little under three feet tall.

It’s just another plus of Comfrey that besides all its uses, it’s easily gotten.

2 thoughts on “Propagating Comfrey”

  1. Great! I think it is always worth seeing if a plant will propagate this way, I know I used to grow fuschias like this years ago when I wanted more for flowers. I first found out from some I left on the windowsill in the kitchen but had almost forgotten…….

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  2. Yes, this method can be used for a lot of other plants, including fuchsia. Last year I just had a community rooting jar I threw everything in I wanted to root. For instance, I nipped a start of my Siberian peashrub while mowing with my scythe, threw it into the jar and in a month or two it rooted and I planted the potted specimen out into the food forest just the other day leafing out for spring! Mints also root well this way, as I’m sure you would guess.

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