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Growing Comfrey for Garden and Farm
"Thank you for the great information on your website regarding comfrey and the multiple beneficial uses for it." -Chris, Oakland, California

USDA Hardiness Zones and Comfrey

Comfrey is a hardy, robust perennial good in Zones 3-9 so it can be planted everywhere in the United States except northern Alaska and the southern tip of Florida.

Though some people do have success growing comfrey in southern Florida. Be sure to plant it in partial shade and not in full sun in hot climates.

"The Comfrey Bocking #14 grows quickly producing large leaves that are filled with nutrients. The cold won't hurt it as it is hearty down to minus 35 degrees and it loves the Florida sun." -South Florida Gardening, Hollywood, Florida, Zone 10

According to the "Eat Local Guide" of Sarasota, Florida, Zone 9: "Comfrey does well in Florida gardens, growing year-round. It is better grown in the ground than in a pot and needs to be cut back in January or February. You can start comfrey anytime, although it is best to start it in the spring."

Seasons to Plant Comfrey

Comfrey roots can be planted any time the soil can be worked.

The best time to plant is in the spring or fall. It is better if some growth occurs in the fall before the leaves (but not the roots) are killed by frost but it is not essential. Freezing temperatures do not kill comfrey roots.

If planted in the winter in cold climates, the crown and roots remain dormant until early spring.

Invasiveness of Comfrey

Comfrey Bocking varieties such as #4 and #14 are not invasive. The seeds are sterile (will not grow). True or Common Comfrey is somewhat invasive from the seeds spreading. None of them have invasive roots.

If you want to change the location of your comfrey patch, it is difficult to dig up every bit of root.

Plant Location and Care

The photo is a 3-month-old Russian comfrey plant that Jason in West Virginia grew from small roots.

Comfrey plants prefer full sun or partial shade (no deep shade). The mature size is 3-5 feet tall and 2-4 feet wide. It prefers soil pH of 6-7 but it is not picky. It does well in most soils but prefers a rich soil with a lot of nitrogen.

Comfrey does not require much care. It is unusual for insects, viruses, fungi or bacteria to bother it. However, weak or stressed plants may get rust or mildew (fungal diseases). Infected plants should not be used for propagation.

Comfrey is Hardy

Shoots start coming up in early spring. Flowers bloom late spring through summer. Leaves can take frost down to 15 degrees and still survive. Roots survive to -40 degrees.

It is very drought tolerant because it has deep roots. But it is better to water it if there is drought.

Keep well fertilized with manure and other types of nitrogen. It can be fertilized with urine diluted 50:50 with water.
Planting Comfrey

Bury comfrey roots about 2-3 inches deep. In clay soil plant somewhat shallow; in sandy soils plant deeper.

Space Russian comfrey plants 2-3 feet apart in all directions. Space True / Common comfrey 1-2 feet apart.

It likes fast draining soil. Do not overwater. You can kill plants if the soil is always wet. Let soil dry out between watering. Comfrey roots rot if there is too much water.

Plants live about 10 years before they go into decline. If you divide your roots every few years, the plants are rejuvenated and live forever.

Dividing Mature Plants

Plants are mature at 2 years or older and continue to expand every year. Once a plant is well established you can divide it. Almost all transplants survive.

Divide by pushing your shovel vertically through the plant in the middle of the crown (this photo). Take half of the crown with the roots. Divide the roots into 6-8 inch pieces and plant elsewhere.

Or drive a shovel horizontally through the leaf clump about 3-4 inches below the soil surface. This removes the crown. Divide it into 6 inch pieces.

The original plant quickly recovers. Only divide plants that are strong and healthy.

Plant a Patch, or Add to Pasture

This is a Toggenburg goat in a pasture of Russian comfrey and other plants. You can grow it alone (monoculture) or with other plants (pasture, orchard, field).

Rotational grazing is a good method to use so plants have time to rebuild before they are eaten again.

Another method is to have an area with comfrey that the grazing animals can not reach. Then you cut the comfrey and bring it to the animals. I put it in a hay rack since goats do not like it on the ground.

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Grow your own Comfrey: True/Common Comfrey, Russian Bocking #4, Russian Bocking #14, Symphytum Hidcote Blue.

Your order includes a flyer about how to take care of your plants.

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General Comfrey Information     How to Grow Comfrey
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Permaculture & Fruit Trees     Comfrey as Feed for Poultry
Comfrey as Feed for Livestock     Comfrey: Animals & Health
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History of Russian Comfrey, part 1     Comfrey History & References

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