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Help Growing Comfrey  RSS feed

 
Eric Hanson
Posts: 34
Location: Southern Illinois
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Hello,

This is my first post here but I have searched this site many times before and I finally had a reason to officially register.  I live in zone 6 and I am trying to grow comfrey for the first time but I am not having much success.  I did try earlier in march.  That month was warm and maybe I jumped the gun but I planted anyway.  3 of 4 root sections rotted in the ground.  I tried again about 10 days ago (late April).  So far one of the new plants has indeed shot out of the ground like a rocket, but has since wilted a bit.  The other new plants still look dormant and one of the first four does show some leaves, but nothing like the rapid growth that so many sites have promised.  I am growing potatoes and onions very near the comfrey plants and the soil is in general fertile.  The plants themselves have been planted in fertile holes filled with manure and bat guano.  Every site I looked at stated that comfrey practically jumps out of the ground and needs little to no care but do love nitrogen, especially at the beginning (hence the bat guano).  It has been very rainy lately, but the garden is on high ground.  Am I doing something wrong or can anyone offer any suggestions?  my plans was to incorporate comfrey into my leaf composting and generally create green manure for my garden plot.  I appreciate any advice and thank you in advance

Eric
 
Kyle Neath
pollinator
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Location: High Sierras, CA 6400'
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A big reason for Comfrey's vigorous growth is the extensive root system, especially its deep tap root. Because of that, Comfrey is usually unimpressive the first year (sometimes two depending on your climate/fertility). In successive years it gets more and more vigorous.

I planted 5-6 crowns three years ago (in the fall), and last year my plants were generally kind of sad. They did leaf out and bloom, but they were hardly the vigorous mulch-machine I'd read about. They were often wilty and didn't produce many leaves. But now the plants are already bigger than they'd ever gotten last year — and we're just barely past the last frost date. Of course, I decided to move two of them (they were not in a well-planned place) and those ones I moved instantly got sad again. The ones that are transplanted get wilty by around noon, but the  ones that have been there a year stay nice and rigid all day long.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 317
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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i planted mine in heavy clay rocky soil with no amendments in sept. just before frost. they only came up in june and when they did i gave them a ring of 10-10-10. they took off like a rocket! I'm in zone 3b. so maybe they prefer the cooler weather. out of 6,  6 came up. some as late as mid july.  they were just 2in. cut roots too. i think mine was bocking 14 cultivar.
.
 
Eric Hanson
Posts: 34
Location: Southern Illinois
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Thanks for the quick reply.  Just for reference, I used no rototiller, having sold that years ago.  They were planted in fertile holes filled up with manure and bat guano.  Something that concerned me was how fast the roots rotted in the soil.  These looked like great, healthy roots after I received them in the mail.  Each root was about 5-7 inches long and about 3/4 inches in diameter.  After 3 weeks, the roots started to rot and when I dug them up, they turned slimy &and squishy.

I thought maybe they were susceptible to rainy weather.

I certainly appreciate all the input I can get

Eric
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1235
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I had a few of mine do that when I first started with comfrey.  Now I don't amend the hole I put them in at all.  Just bury them.  After they come up, top dress them with whatever you want to add.  I pee on mine.  As long as they don't get soaked (and I mean really soaked for a long time) before they come up, you almost can't hurt them.

Forgot to add, are you sure you didn't freeze them?  Once they are established, freezing doesn't hurt them, but if you had just put them in the ground, freezing them could have turned them to mush like you said.
 
Simone Gar
Posts: 171
Location: Alberta, zone 3
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Hang in there. 10 days ago? Comfrey takes quite a bit to come up. Weeks, some times months.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 317
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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like simone said they do take a long time to come up. maybe your soil was too hot ( nitrogen rich) and burnt the crowns killing them. sometimes too much of a good thing is bad. lost many a tree seedling over doing the compost. bat guanos some strong stuff esp. if you had fertile soil already.
 
Eric Hanson
Posts: 34
Location: Southern Illinois
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I do hear what you say about guano being nitrogen rich.  All I read strongly implied that comfrey is a voracious consumer of nitrogen if given the opportunity and I was laboring under the influence of one person more experienced than myself stating "sow sparingly, reap sparingly," suggesting that comfrey should be given as much nitrogen as possible, especially in the early phase.  For the record, the roots were pretty substantial and the foliage that appeared did not look burnt.  Due to recent weather, I am not ruling out that it is drowning as we recently got a whopping 7 inches of rain last Friday/Saturday (local areas are flooding badly, some areas even got ten inches!).  The roots that failed to produce any foliage at all I dug up and they were soft & slimy--suggesting to me that they rotted.  Even one root that did produce foliage seemed to grow for a few days, turned yellow and wilted.  When I dug it up, that root to had rotted.  When I replanted, I planted in the same holes but replaced the soil hoping to avoid contamination if rot was indeed killing my plants.

It is good to hear from some that Comfrey may take a while to show growth.  Again, all the literature suggests that you put in in the ground and then get out of the way or get impaled on fast growing foliage.  I do have one plant that is acting somewhat lik this, but I am still concerned about the others.  Orriginally I had planed on planting 4 plants, but with re-ordering new roots, I now have 6 potential plants.

Could water be the culprit here?  While the fertile holes are based on manure, the underlying soil is thick clay, very wet and sticky with recent rains.  Seems like every time I get ready to put out a new set of plants, the skies open and drench us.  Also, I noticed that the best growth seemed to be after a couple of days of warmer weather (with cooler weather being highs in the low 60s).

Last point.  At no time did any of the roots or foliage freeze.  Lows have gotten into the 30s, but never to freezing since I started this project.

I will keep this updated and I certainly appreciate all the input and welcome any more information or experience for this comfrey newbie.

Eric
 
steve bossie
Posts: 317
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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with that amount of rain definitely way too wet but also i have killed many plants that are heavy feeders by giving too much N in the hole at transplanting. now i just add a handful of compost or worm castings with some plain peat or coir to lighten up my clay soil. then i fertilize only when i start to see growth. worked well for me as I've been transplanting for 20yrs like this. our clay soil holds the nutrients at the root ball and rots them just like you said. i think its a combination of overly wet and high N. they need it just not as much at transplant. good luck!
 
steve bossie
Posts: 317
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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Eric Hanson wrote:I do hear what you say about guano being nitrogen rich.  All I read strongly implied that comfrey is a voracious consumer of nitrogen if given the opportunity and I was laboring under the influence of one person more experienced than myself stating "sow sparingly, reap sparingly," suggesting that comfrey should be given as much nitrogen as possible, especially in the early phase.  For the record, the roots were pretty substantial and the foliage that appeared did not look burnt.  Due to recent weather, I am not ruling out that it is drowning as we recently got a whopping 7 inches of rain last Friday/Saturday (local areas are flooding badly, some areas even got ten inches!).  The roots that failed to produce any foliage at all I dug up and they were soft & slimy--suggesting to me that they rotted.  Even one root that did produce foliage seemed to grow for a few days, turned yellow and wilted.  When I dug it up, that root to had rotted.  When I replanted, I planted in the same holes but replaced the soil hoping to avoid contamination if rot was indeed killing my plants.

It is good to hear from some that Comfrey may take a while to show growth.  Again, all the literature suggests that you put in in the ground and then get out of the way or get impaled on fast growing foliage.  I do have one plant that is acting somewhat lik this, but I am still concerned about the others.  Orriginally I had planed on planting 4 plants, but with re-ordering new roots, I now have 6 potential plants.

Could water be the culprit here?  While the fertile holes are based on manure, the underlying soil is thick clay, very wet and sticky with recent rains.  Seems like every time I get ready to put out a new set of plants, the skies open and drench us.  Also, I noticed that the best growth seemed to be after a couple of days of warmer weather (with cooler weather being highs in the low 60s).

Last point.  At no time did any of the roots or foliage freeze.  Lows have gotten into the 30s, but never to freezing since I started this project.

I will keep this updated and I certainly appreciate all the input and welcome any more information or experience for this comfrey newbie.

Eric
we have some -30f days up here and that didn't stop the comfrey! when the snow melted to about 6in. the crowns sent out leaves thru the last of the snow! thought i was seeing things! one tough plant! just like the countries it came from! good luck!
 
Simone Gar
Posts: 171
Location: Alberta, zone 3
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Might be the rain. I never fertilize comfrey. Clay doesn't matter mine is growing in some tough clay spots. That might be why it's low but they always come up. I don't think I have experience with that much rain so that's the only thing I could think of.
 
Roger Rhodes
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Location: Oklahoma - Zone 6b today 7a tomorrow
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These were 1 inch root cuttings a couple seasons ago. Second season is growth explosion.....
comfrey-permaculture.jpg
[Thumbnail for comfrey-permaculture.jpg]
 
Marco Banks
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Give it time.  Comfrey is a tough sucker.  It's pretty hard to kill it.  In due time, it will grow. 

I agree with the above concerns about amending the soil you planted it in  --- it really doesn't need much more nitrogen than what it can find in your unamended soil.  Perhaps once it's growing, you could side-dress with a bit of manure, but if you are planting it into a hole that is too hot, it may have composted.

Time.  As in months.  Patience, grasshopper.
 
K Putnam
pollinator
Posts: 245
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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Re: comfrey getting too wet

My comfrey just went through the coldest, wettest six months in the recorded history of the state.  It came up in absolutely massive, gorgeous heaps of leaves. It's never looked better after sitting in nothing but wet since last October.  Yesterday was literally the first day that the soil got a good hit of sun and warmth since probably last September. 

Maaayyyyybbeee, it was too wet for new roots, but I'm guessing there were too many amendments and needed time.  Comfrey needs almost nothing to grow. That is what make it an amazing plant.

The first year, my comfrey put up a few nice leaves and did fine.  This year, it has reached a level of providing meaningful levels of mulch, if I can bring myself to cut it back. It's stunning in the garden and the bees love it.  Last year, I let it run its course until it wilted in mid-summer heat, cut it back, then had a lovely second bloom in the fall.
 
Eric Hanson
Posts: 34
Location: Southern Illinois
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Quick update,

Thank you so much to everyone who has offered me some insight.

Unfortunately we just got more rain last night and this morning--and more is in the forecast.  If you have been following events around weather in Missouri, then you might have an idea of the weather we have had as of late.  I just checked my comfrey plants.  The two that have sprouted are still doing fine.  Sadly, one of the roots I planted from the second batch is not only soaking wet, is is actually under water.  It rained so much that the loose soil I had placed in my fertile hole settled down with the rain and now the "fertile" hole is a hole of water.  Maybe it will get a chance to dry out, but it does not look great right now.  One way or another I am determined to get at least 4 comfrey plants and if I have to replant yet again, I may make a fertile mound instead of a hole so that the root will not get submerged due to rain. I have not given up though and so many of you have given me so much insight as to how I should have planted my roots.  I only wish that I would have posted here before I started this process as many of you have advised against strong fertilization at planting when my earlier research implied that comfrey could never get enough fertilization.

I plan to post a picture soon so you can see the condition of my plants and the amount of water I am talking about here.

Again, thanks so much and please feel free to comment on my upcoming pictures, plans or just give insight in general.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
Posts: 34
Location: Southern Illinois
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I just went out and trimmed down some grasses near the comfrey holes.  The comfrey from the 2nd picture is actually coming up from both ends of the root so it appears to be healthy.  Picture #3 shows just how much water we have gotten in the last week.  That soil in the hole was ground level at planting time.  Sadly, 2 other holes look just like it.  I would love to know your thoughts.

Eric
young-comfrey-permaculture.jpg
[Thumbnail for young-comfrey-permaculture.jpg]
Comfrey from 1st planting
small-comfrey.jpg
[Thumbnail for small-comfrey.jpg]
Comfrey from 2nd planting
small-comfrey-permaculture.jpg
[Thumbnail for small-comfrey-permaculture.jpg]
Underwater comfrey
 
Marco Banks
Posts: 577
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Those pictures are of healthy, happy comfrey plants.  Don't worry about anything --- it's doing just fine.  Absolutely nothing wrong there that I can see --- even with the ones that are currently underwater.

Make a cup of tea, sit back in a comfortable chair with a good book and enjoy the rain.  Your comfrey certainly is. 

In the future, you might want to start your comfrey in pots so you can control the growing conditions a bit better.  Use a standard potting mix that drains well (nothing too rich or hot), and give the pots about 4 hours of direct sunlight -- not so much that they dry out.  Within 2 months, you'll have a vigorous plant that's ready to be planted somewhere in your system.

In 2 years, you'll decide to dig up one of those comfrey plants, and you'll have enough root mass to start 250 more plants (I'm not exaggerating).  At that point, use moderation and don't go nuts planting it all over the place in spaces that you'll want to use for other crops, as comfrey is tough to kill once you've planted it all over.  My comfrey planting days are over.  Now I work hard to selectively dig it out because I got a little too zealous in throwing root pieces in all over the orchard.  It's good stuff, but I want some space to plant other stuff as well.  It can eat up a lot of garden space.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 317
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i agree with marco. get some light jiffy seedling potting mix and start in them in there. maybe planting on mounds would be a good idea. you guys are getting pounded by rain like us this spring but even more! we haven't had more than a few days of sunlight in the last 6 weeks and we have only had a handful of days in the 50's. very cold and wet spring. i plant on mounds a lot. has saved my berry bushes and fruit trees but during dry spells you have to water more. mulching helps. once you get them established you'll be up to your armpits in the stuff! good luck!
 
Eric Hanson
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I will see about getting those set up on mounds.  I totally agree with mulch and I usually try to have some on hand.  I have about 9 acres, about 5 of which are clear but regularly grow up autumn olives, a common invasive in this area.  I know that there on some on this site that don't like wood chippers, but I actually like to rent a wood chipper every year or two and feed it autumn olives that I have cut down or trimmed up.  This usually leaves me with a nice tall pile of wood chips that I put to good use.  You are right about the rain as well.  I received 7 inches on one night in the last week.  Others nearby received 10 inches in the same night.  This was on top of about 5 inches that had already fallen in the past couple of days and about 2 inches that followed.  All of this of course is just when I am trying to get these roots into the ground.

Eric
 
steve bossie
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my cousins in s. missouri and she says the same. way too much at once for sure! hard to get anything to take with that much water. maybe add some sand to your soil to help with drainage. good luck and praying for dry weather for us!
 
John Master
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If you have plants started you can split them easily to expand your patch of comfrey, if you don't have many to start with I recommend Coe's comfrey.  He has many different sizes from thin little sliver of root cuttings to large complete plants.  You may want to get the complete plants if you are having a hard time getting them started and then splitting those once they're established...
 
Eric Hanson
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Panic averted!!

OK, you guys clearly gave me sound advice when I needed it.  We have now had 3 sunny days in a row and 5 days without rain (YEA!!) and when I checked on my "underwater" comfrey, I found it in nice, moist but not sopping wet soil.  I dug up the root segment and it looked as healthy as could be.  At this point I have to ask about the placement of the comfrey plants.  Right now I am working with two beds.  The beds are raised up about 1 foot.  One of the beds is about 6'x15' and the other is about 6'x20'.  Right now I have comfrey planted in the ground just outside of the ends of the beds.  At some point I plan to contain the beds with cedar planks but for the moment they are standing by themselves.  This arrangement, if it works, will give me comfrey close by.  My main question is this:  is having up to 4 comfrey plants enough to thoroughly amend the bed?  Also, does having the comfrey plant planted close by the bed do anything for the soil beneath the bed (as in condition, break up hard clay, transport nutrients to the surface, etc.?  If 4 plants per bed is not enough, I plan on planting a dedicated comfrey bed--should I just plant this and leave it or is there any prep-work that would be reasonable (I know that obviously getting rid of weeds is hugely beneficial) such as working soil deeply, fertilizing (I am totally ok with using urine, food scraps, lawn clippings, etc.)

I know this is a lot, but I want to make comfrey work for me in my gardening future and I want to plan ahead. For the record, I have a third bed that is about 6'x30'.

Thanks in advance,

Eric
 
steve bossie
Posts: 317
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i have 6 established plants. i cut the leaves 2 xs a season. i put the leaves in a tote w a handful of compost w a little water . cover.  2 mo. later i get this stinky dark green goo. i dissolve a tablespoon per 2 gal. watering can. mix well and pour on the plants. i feed a 10' by 20' raspberry patch and 30 nut and fruit bushes with just those plants and they're doing great! other than amending with compost occasionally in spring they get nothing but comfrey. I'm totally sold on comfrey! even got it planted 3 ft. away under my apple and apricot trees. in june i cut the leaves, lay them around the drip line, then top dress w/ fresh mulch. they're growing great! i plan to section one of my crowns next year and start a patch of comfrey on some poor ground in my yard. should only have to fertilize them a few years then that taproot will get down deep enough to mine the nutrients from deep in the clay to keep them producing. i put about 4in. of mulch around mine and never need to water them. good luck!
 
Eric Hanson
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Steve,

Wow!  So six plants is enough for all of your plots?  My plan is to chop&drop as a
mulch/fertilizer and from what you say, this should be plenty for both my beds?  Do you give your plants anything besides comfrey?  Comfrey looks more&more like a super plant.  Do you
fertilize your comfrey?  I was thinking of using
Urine on the comfrey once established.

Steve, thanks so much for your wealth of knowledge.  I am eagerly looking forward to putting this info into action.

Eric


 
K Putnam
pollinator
Posts: 245
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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Given that comfrey is a plant this is going to stay where you put it, I'd start with your four and decide whether you are in love with the plant.  I started with four plants the size of yours and now have massive plants.  They are waist-high and absolutely stunning this spring.  I transplanted them to other areas of the garden, but I do regret putting it in one particular area and it has already dug itself in deep.  In the areas that I want it, I love it.  Grow it, observe it, have a think about how much you want of it and where you will really want it.  It's the easiest stuff in the world to propagate. 
 
Michael Cox
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K Putnam wrote:Given that comfrey is a plant this is going to stay where you put it, I'd start with your four and decide whether you are in love with the plant.  I started with four plants the size of yours and now have massive plants.  They are waist-high and absolutely stunning this spring.  I transplanted them to other areas of the garden, but I do regret putting it in one particular area and it has already dug itself in deep.  In the areas that I want it, I love it.  Grow it, observe it, have a think about how much you want of it and where you will really want it.  It's the easiest stuff in the world to propagate. 


You can still remove it from an area. I'd try putting down a piece of plywood over it to cover the area. Starve it of light for a season.
 
Eric Hanson
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K Putnam,

Some of these comments are blowing my mind!  I did not doubt that comfrey would be a fast grower, but it looks like it is a Permies dream come true (if properly placed).  This is the reason that I planted it just outside of the raised bed.  I was hoping that I could have it close by, Maaayyybbbeeee its roots could help improve my thick sticky clay, and when I wanted to use it, it would be handily available.  If I were to grow an additional plot of comfrey, I do have space to plant it that is definitely out of the way of the garden, but not too far to be terribly inconvenient and would also be in a fairly wild portion of my acreage.  I will heed your advice and not get too crazy with it, especially near the existing beds.  At the moment I have a total of 6 plants (if they all come up) for two beds with a third awaiting results from the first two.

Thanks so much for the posts, I have learned more about comfrey in the last week than in the last year.

Eric
 
steve bossie
Posts: 317
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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i think you have more than enough plants for your needs. like was said i woulnt go too crazy with it till' you see what you have. only thing i give my comfrey is well, comfrey. they get a watering of my comfrey goo in spring and thats it! chop and drop will work too as long as you dig it in. I'm lazy so i use the liquid instead . less work. you may not even want to fertilize them because like was said they can get huge! I'm in zone 3b and these are the 1st. plants to come up ( thru the snow this year) and are still alive when the snow falls. in your warmer environment they will get bigger than mine! the bees love the flowers so when i cut i leave the flowers up for them. we have barely cracked 50f this spring and my comfrey are already 12in!  my trees are just starting to bud! this plant is incredible!
 
Eric Hanson
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I am absolutely itching to see my comfrey in action.  Thanks again for so much input.  I hope I am not tiring you with all of my questions, but I am really feeling the gardening itch.  I used to be a very avid gardener, and while I never stopped loving gardening, for the last several years, springtime has been a very busy time for me and time fly's by so fast that by the time I get to the point of trying to get into the garden, it is too hot for cool season veggies, I have neglected to weed my garden beds (though I got a couple of really cool weeding hoes that make weeding a piece of cake) and I am generally too late to start gardening.  This year I made certain to get started early and I have been wanting to try the comfrey thing for a while, so I am a bit impatient.  I don't sell my produce, but I like to garden as organic as possible.  For my purposes, organic means that I never have to buy any more inputs, including manure, greensand, etc.  Sounds like comfrey may be the pathway I have been looking for, so I am thus very excited to see it working.  Thanks so much for all the help, and I am certain that I will be asking for more, but for now I think I have a handle on things.

Eric

P.S.  I will update with pictures as the comfrey comes to life
 
Michelle Heath
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I have "accidental" comfrey coming up just about everywhere I sat a pot of cuttings to root.  I assume it is the seeding variety as I originally bought one pot at a small flea market a few years ago.  I divided it in its second year and put the divisions into pots.  When the pots were later moved, the pieces of root left behind formed new plants.  I leave most where they are at but dig up some to give away and make cuttings.  Last year at this time, it took leaves from all my plants to fill a five-gallon bucket to make tea.  Yesterday I started my first batch of comfrey tea and still have enough leaves and stems left to make another batch, so the plants have definitely increased!

I also purchased cuttings of bocking 4 last year and started them in a very deep and long window box with intention of getting them in the ground as soon as the plants were big enough.  Well life, hot weather and many other issues got in the way and I never got them planted.  About a month ago I separated them and ended up breaking a handful of roots off while trying to untangle them.  I just cut those roots into pieces and replanted them.  I already have three nice-sized plants already coming up from those roots plus three or four plants coming up from roots that broke off in the ground.  So really once you get it established, it's possible to propagate just about all you need.
 
Todd Parr
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Eric, in the midst of all this, and as much as I hate being the messenger, there is some very bad news.  You have been bitten by the insectus comfreisus bug.  As far as I can tell, the disease it causes is incurable.  I was bitten a few years ago and up to this point, the symptoms have not lessened to any degree.  Symptoms are as follows:  Insatiable urges to plant comfrey everywhere, incessant chattering on about the plant, constant thoughts of other uses for it, thoughts of taking over the world with comfrey, and planting it on land that is not your own, so that others, so far unafflicted, may soon be caught up in the contagion.  It is an insidious disease, but many of us have learned coping mechanisms, not the least of which is complete refusal to listen to anyone that disagrees that comfrey is the one true king of plants, and all ills can be cured by judicious use of it.  Best of luck to you.
 
Marco Banks
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Two years ago, I planted about 15 comfrey cuttings in my front yard to fill in a space that was a bit bare.  After six months, the plants were big and full and healthy.

So this past January, my dear wife asked me to pull them out because she had other plans for that space.  I spent about 2 hours digging them out.  I transferred the big root balls to a local orchard (the orchard is largely untended so it was clandestine gardening on a Sunday afternoon).  I dug out as much as I could find --- pulling up all kinds of roots from those original 15 plants.  HARD work.

Well, since then, I've been digging and digging and digging . . . you just can't seem to get it all.  There is a void in the center of where the old plant was, while on the outside of that hole, new plants just keep popping up from where little pieces of roots broke off.  It's turned into something of a pain in the ass.  I'll be digging all summer until I get the last vestiges of those comfrey plants out.  Because there are trees growing there, I can't just go crazy in there, but I have to dig carefully so I don't destroy all the roots of those trees.  Slow.

The moral of the story: don't go comfrey crazy and plant it too freely until you know that this will be a good long-term home for it.  From one mature comfrey plant, you can easily get 50 new plants -- it's easy to overdo it.

As for those comfrey plants I transferred to the orchard, they are doing fantastic.  Our wet California winter gave them the start they needed.  They'll be there feeding the citrus forever, I would imagine.
 
Todd Parr
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For the record, I have about 30-40 comfrey plants right now, and by this fall, I expect that to be 300-400.  I don't think you can have too many. 

Marco, if you really want to rid a spot of them, put a sheet of black rubber or similar over the area and leave it all summer.  My heart will bleed a little, but you can kill it that way.  Much easier than trying to dig it and get every last piece.

I may even try an experiment with that this summer to turn an unused portion of land into garden.  Use comfrey and tillage radish to break thru the clay and then kill them off with rubber sheeting. 
 
Eric Hanson
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Todd,

Yes, I do believe that I have been bitten by the Comfrey Bug and I have big plans even though I only have two viable plants (for the moment anyway).  Given that I am planting them on the outside edge, will they be sending shoots into the garden or does that happen if I break roots when trying to propagate, etc,?
 
Michelle Heath
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Eric Hanson wrote:Todd,

Yes, I do believe that I have been bitten by the Comfrey Bug and I have big plans even though I only have two viable plants (for the moment anyway).  Given that I am planting them on the outside edge, will they be sending shoots into the garden or does that happen if I break roots when trying to propagate, etc,?


In my experience the comfrey just produces a big clump.  It's the pieces of root that are left behind that sprout into new plants.  You could probably dig up one of your new plants next year, replant the crown, and cut the remaining roots into 1-2" cuttings to increase the number of plants.
 
Todd Parr
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Eric Hanson wrote:Todd,

Yes, I do believe that I have been bitten by the Comfrey Bug and I have big plans even though I only have two viable plants (for the moment anyway).  Given that I am planting them on the outside edge, will they be sending shoots into the garden or does that happen if I break roots when trying to propagate, etc,?


Hey Eric.  I have found comfrey to be pretty easy-going.  It gets bigger around, but I haven't had it try to take over an area.  Keep in mind my plants are only 3 or 4 years old so I don't know how big they can eventually get.


Michelle Heath wrote: In my experience the comfrey just produces a big clump.  It's the pieces of root that are left behind that sprout into new plants.  You could probably dig up one of your new plants next year, replant the crown, and cut the remaining roots into 1-2" cuttings to increase the number of plants.


Michelle, that is exactly right.  You can cut a plant into many, many pieces and all will grow into a new plant.  As I said earlier, the only way I have ever lost one is by soaking it too much before it began to grow.  I had a couple of them rot that way.  Now I just stick a piece of root in the ground wherever I want a new plant and ignore it.  Haven't lost one since
 
steve bossie
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Todd Parr wrote:
Eric Hanson wrote:Todd,

Yes, I do believe that I have been bitten by the Comfrey Bug and I have big plans even though I only have two viable plants (for the moment anyway).  Given that I am planting them on the outside edge, will they be sending shoots into the garden or does that happen if I break roots when trying to propagate, etc,?


Hey Eric.  I have found comfrey to be pretty easy-going.  It gets bigger around, but I haven't had it try to take over an area.  Keep in mind my plants are only 3 or 4 years old so I don't know how big they can eventually get.


Michelle Heath wrote: In my experience the comfrey just produces a big clump.  It's the pieces of root that are left behind that sprout into new plants.  You could probably dig up one of your new plants next year, replant the crown, and cut the remaining roots into 1-2" cuttings to increase the number of plants.


Michelle, that is exactly right.  You can cut a plant into many, many pieces and all will grow into a new plant.  As I said earlier, the only way I have ever lost one is by soaking it before it too much before it began to grow.  I had a couple of them rot that way.  Now I just stick a piece of root in the ground wherever I want a new plant and ignore it.  Haven't lost one since
thats how i grew mine todd! just stuck it in the ground around the drip edge of my fruit trees/ bushes and forgot about them.  when they came up i had forgotten even planting them and where i had put them. nothing grows in this area as vigorously as comfrey!
 
Michelle Heath
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If you look on YouTube, jack spirko has a video on propagating comfrey from root cuttings.  My internet is incredibly slow right now, but I'll try and post the link later.
 
Todd Parr
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This comfrey was planted last fall and just came up again two or three weeks ago.
comfrey.jpeg
[Thumbnail for comfrey.jpeg]
 
Eric Hanson
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Todd,

That is some beautiful looking comfrey.  By now I do have two plants of six that are beginning to look like those, but on a smaller scale.

To All Those Who Suggested Patience,

It looks like you were right after all.  In addition to the two that are growing quite nicely now, I have two more that are just beginning to poke their little heads above ground.  One of my faster growing plants is even sending out quite a few shoots and may look like a small bush in the near future.  I promise to get some pictures ASAP, but thanks to everyone that just suggested patience,

Eric
 
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