The creeping comfrey fascinates in spring with its two-tone flowers. This is how to use the ground cover cleverly in your garden.
Profile of creeping comfrey:
Scientific name: Symphytum grandiflorum
Plant family: borage family (Boraginaceae)
Other names: ornamental comfrey
Planting time: spring to autumn
Flowering period: April to May
Location: sunny to partially shaded
Soil quality: sandy to loamy, moderately nutritious
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: flower beds, ground cover, group planting, underplanting, cottage garden, natural garden, forest garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 5 ()
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of creeping comfrey
Plant order, origin and occurrence of creeping comfrey
The creeping comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum) is one of around 40 species of comfrey and belongs to the borage family (Boraginaceae). The wild form comes from the mountain forests of eastern Turkey to the Caucasus. The plant is also known as ornamental comfrey.
Characteristics of creeping comfrey
In contrast to many of its relatives, such as the common comfrey, the creeping comfrey grows very low and is only about 25 centimeters (10 in) high. However, it quickly grows thick carpets by runners and is perennial.
In late winter at the latest, the leaves sprout abundantly. In mild regions, the leaves appear in early autumn, which is why the actually deciduous perennial also turns out to be wintergreen. The alternate, egg-shaped leaves are relatively close at the base. Stems and leaves are coarsely hairy.
From April to May, red flower buds appear that open into large, creamy white flowers. They sit in short cincinnus on branched shoots. The petals are fused into tubes. It is difficult for bees to reach the nectar in it. But bumblebees nibble the flowers at their roots and clear the way for themselves and the bees. Garden varieties of the Caucasus Comfrey also bloom in blue, light yellow and pink.
Creeping comfrey forms egg-shaped seeds with fat-rich appendages. That’s why ants often spread them. But there is no significant self-sowing.
Creeping comfrey – cultivation and care
A sunny to partially shaded location is ideal for the ornamental comfrey.
Like any comfrey, creeping comfrey loves a moist, fresh garden soil in the shade of tall trees. However, it also copes well with drought and root pressure. It thrives on acidic, pH-neutral and basic soils.
Planting creeping comfrey
You can plant the creeping comfreyfrom spring to autumn. There are eleven plants per square meter (10 sq ft) and a distance of 30 centimeters (12 in) should be kept between them.
If planted in a sunny location, creeping comfrey needs to be watered a little more than in a shady spot. On hot dry summer days you should water the plants.
A handful of compost or horn shavings in spring is enough. This gives the plant a good start for the new season.
Creeping comfrey is undemanding and frost hardy. After flowering, the plant is cut back completely. It then sprouts again and sometimes blooms a second time. Once comfrey has grown in, it will stubbornly stay in place. Even if you dig it up, new plants will grow from the remaining root parts.
Creeping comfrey is primarily propagated by runners. It is seldom sown, because germination takes a long time and does not always lead to success.
To propagate creeping comfrey, dig it up in spring, cut off pieces with the spade and replant them in another location.
Diseases and pests
In full sun, dry summer locations, creeping comfrey grows rather weak and is sometimes prone to powdery mildew. Snails avoid the plant.
Creeping comfrey is hardy down to -26 °C / -15 °F. There are no special measures for winter protection necessary.
Use in the garden
The competitive perennial is suitable as a robust, dense ground cover under trees and bushes as well as in front of walls. You can combine it with other ground-covering plants, for example with ivy (Hedera helix) or rock crane’s-bill (Geranium macrorrhizum). Higher forest perennials can also keep up with it, such as rough small-reed (Calamagrostis arundinacea) or basket fern (Dryopteris filix-mas). Comfrey leaves are well suited for mulching or for preparing a rich, fertilizing manure.
- While the pure wild species is particularly vigorous, the cultivations are more moderate and show even more color.
- “Blue bell” impresses with medium blue flowers
- ‘Hidcote Blue’ pushes pale blue flowers from red-brown buds
- Something special is ‘Goldsmith’, whose light yellow bells nod over variegated, creamy-white leaves
- The flowers of ‘Miraculum’ change from red to pink to light violet
- The flowers of ‘Sky Blue Pink’ change from pink to light blue