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best way to get comfrey?  RSS feed

 
Angela Nelson
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What is the best way to get some comfrey plants? Not much money here. Tried to start seeds but they died on my husband's watch when i was away for a few weeks. Is it difficult to start seeds, or is there an inexpensive way to get plant starts?

Have never seen plants to buy locally. I'm in the moscow/pullman eastern Wa area if someone has any around here.

I'm sure I'll have to wait for less heat to do anything. Can comfrey be planted out in the fall, or should I wait till spring to try again?
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
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Cheapest, easiest way to get comfrey is root cuttings. You can plant them anytime of the year assuming the soil can be worked, basically as long as the ground isn't frozen. The heat won't stop them, so if you find any feel free to plant them.

I bought crown cuttings ( the "main" section of the roots) from Coe's Comfrey. They also sell root cuttings, which are cheaper. I received a few freebie root cuttings when I purchased, stuck them in the ground, and went about my day. I thought they died (I planted them in November) them one day in spring they just basically exploded out the ground lol.

Anyone local with plants can easily get you some root cuttings. Simply pull the plant up, cut some 2-3 inch lengths out of roots about the diameter of a pencil, and you've got root cuttings. Plant them about six inches deep, with plenty of manure or compost, and lay the cutting down horizontally. Root cuttings take will need most of the first year to develop a root system before you can really harvest the leaves, but they'll survive and they'll thrive. I plan to do this this fall from the established crowns I planted last year. If I didn't have use for them, and didn't live on the other side of the country I would send you some.

EDIT: I'd stay away from seeds. Most cultivated comfrey is a sterile variety. Planting a seeded variety can lead to wayyyy more comfrey plants than you want.
 
Angela Nelson
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Thanks--I printed out the order form to use, in case there is no one nearby!
You really think they'd do ok in 90+ temp everyday and no rain for weeks? So hot and dry this year, and the soil I am wanting to plant them in (to improve the whole area!) is pretty hard.
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
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If the soils literally bone dry they won't do well, assuming they don't outright die. The temp won't be an issue. Just keep the soil moist like you'd do for anything freshly planted. Once the plant gets established they're MUCH more drought tolerant as they'll send roots down deep. Soil being hard isn't really an issue either, I mean you'll have to break it up some to plant the cuttings right? Given spending a little extra time with a garden fork loosening the area some may help the roots get established quicker though.

If you do order from Coe's follow their instructions for planting and you'll get healthy plants fairly quickly. Trust me on this, you've never seen anything grow like comfrey will grow. Literally chopped a few bushes to the ground, and within days new leaves were up, within 3 weeks the plant was back to full size, it's truley impressive.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1699
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I've had better luck establishing comfrey in pots first than directly in the soil. Just a few weeks of TLC to get them rooted before planting them out seems to help. I was planting directly into unprepared soil/sod just by dividing it with a spade.
 
Angela Nelson
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Thanks all, will order some soon
 
John Master
Posts: 519
Location: Wisconsin
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Horizon herbs had nice large root crowns for $5 ea. They took off great right away. I tried 30 seeds two different times and couldn't get one to come up. Sounds like there are some tricks but I didn't know them...
 
Michael Love
Posts: 7
Location: Olney, Maryland
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You could put a post on the Pullman Freecycle Pullman Freecycle asking for available comfrey. If someone on Freecycle in that are has comfrey they will probably be willing to give you some.
 
Angela Nelson
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I have never tried freestyle, will have to give it a look. Thanks for the suggestion.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 507
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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I'm up on the Camas Prairie near Grangeville in Idaho, about an hour and a half south of you. I'm going to be doing some cuttings next week. PM me if you want to get in touch, I could probably spare you a couple pieces.
 
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