My Experience Growing True Comfrey

| August 16, 2014 | 5 Replies

My experience growing True Comfrey has been checkered. Last year, I was perusing the Horizon Herbs website, and became determined to buy a live root of something fabulous. I read about True Comfrey and it had so many positive health benefits, I settled on that. Plus this line really caught my eye.

Herbaceous perennial native to Europe. True Comfrey is the original

medicinal herb as detailed in all the ancient literature.

I’d never ordered any live plant before. I received it on 12/6, and planted within a day or two. I did not photograph the root, but there is wonderful, detailed information and photos here.

The herbs were simple to plant. Just point the root down, keeping the bit of green on top peeking from the surface, cover with mulch in well-drained soil, water and wait. It took a little time to get going, but once it did, it was off to the races!

My Experience Growing True Comfrey - after 1 month

True Comfrey – First week of January, one month after planting live root

My dilemma was where to plant it. Because I bought the self-seeding True Comfrey, and because it was December and my two large pulp pots for last year’s tomatoes were sitting empty, I planted them there. I thought, this will give me time to find a better home, in the ground. Turns out, True Comfrey doesn’t do well in pots in the long term, as the root wants to push down deep.

My Experience Growing True Comfrey - at 7 weeks

True Comfrey – End of January, 7 weeks after planting live root

This plant mix I used really suited them well. And, of course, the pots drain well. Two months later, end of March, it was blooming. These blooms look more like the Russian cultivar, than the dark purple bloom on the website, but the root was marked True Comfrey.

My Experience Growing True Comfrey - Blooming

True Comfrey with lilac blooms – End of March

You can see the writing on the wall here, that this plant needs more room. It was so healthy, and obviously in the perfect amount of sun, with the right drainage, however, out of necessity, I began to consider where to relocate it.

My Experience Growing True Comfrey - Bell flowers

True Comfrey hanging bell-shaped lilac blooms


Looking inside the bell-shaped blooms of True Comfrey

Breathtaking blooms lasted a week or two. When it was finished blooming, I replanted it. After all, it was end of April and I would be needing the pulp pots for tomatoes. Comfrey likes sun/part sun, so it went in ground beside the driveway, with the hope it would spread under the mature pineapple guava trees. Alas, it has suffered in this location. A big chunk broke off when I tried to plant it. What I didn’t realize, you can gently separate the sections of root and I could have propagated it then, when I had the whole mass of roots in my hand.

My Experience Growing True Comfrey - wilting

True Comfrey wilting in the morning sun

Either the sun is too strong here in summer, or True Comfrey needs a lot of water, because many days I find it wilted. And it is positioned right next to a sprinkler. We have water restrictions in California due to our record drought, so I only turn on the sprinklers twice a week. I have to give this plant a shot with the hose every other day. And some critter loves to munch on it, and the heretofore perfect leaves are full of holes. Since I’m not eating the leaves (that could be toxic), and they ultimately will be used as compost, I don’t want to spray it.

My Experience Growing True Comfrey - revived

True Comfrey revived with water and the shade of afternoon

One of the best benefits to comfrey is for fertilizer. A terrific primer using comfrey as fertilizer is at OneYardRevolution. Patrick gives a great deal of good information about how he grows the Bocking 14 Russian cultivar, which does very well in his zone, and uses it mainly for fertilizer. I haven’t given up on comfrey, but I can’t afford to plant it in my raised beds and have it spread, and my urban soil is hard clay. I’ll have to keep experimenting to find the right balance of sun, soil drainage and space to keep this healthy herb happy.

Have you tried planting live roots, or growing medicinal herbs? They’ve been around for thousands of years, or more, bringing health to native peoples. Seems like a win-win to have them growing in our urban gardens.

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Category: Flowers, Herbs

Comments (5)

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  1. I just came across this post on a google search. I’m currently growing comfrey and even though I haven’t harvested any of the leaves yet (I use them for salves), I love looking at the plant. Mine is just starting to bloom now.

    • Oh, that’s awesome! I tried comfrey twice, and not sure if it was the container or location in ground, but they got eaten up by bugs and wilted every afternoon till they lost their spunk. I haven’t given up. I’d like to try it again. I’m so glad you found me and I’m sorry I’m only seeing this comment now! Please stay in touch and subscribe! Thanks! Where are you located, BTW, Southern Belle?

  2. kg says:

    i got my comfrey from the same place as well!
    First time i got them (i got 2 in case i kill one), i killed 2.
    SUN: According to my research, they like full sun. But after 2nd round, i found that they like part sun for sure, all day.
    Water: maybe 2/week or 1/week. Should be “water friendly” but have to go by how it looks. (if too much, white flies come right away)
    BUGS: yes, caterpillars and aphids love them too much.
    I use homemade Neem oil natural bug spray. / rosemary natural bug spray

    So is there only one type of medicinal comfrey? cause I got one from a nearby nursary and they said it was “medicinal” but didn’t have a tug…


    • Did you see my video for New Year’s Day? I planted 7 plants that day. Four are doing well, and 1 didn’t come up and two are struggling. They all get the same amount of water, so I don’t know. Well, there is True Comfrey and Bocking 14 or something like that. I would check Horizon Herbs website and just read about their comfrey as it’s informative. I have not used any bug spray on mine and three are blooming. I just hope they keep growing. Thanks for writing!!

    • I am so glad I am looking again at your comment. I was standing beside one of my better looking comfrey plants and there were lots of little white flies flying around. I had not seen them there before. So, this could be because I am watering too much?

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