Growing Comfrey for Infusions

Hi Everyone,

Lynn gave me some comfrey plants which I just got into the ground last night (yeah, that I only seem to get around to planting quite late :) )

Comfrey is reputed to be quite aggressive... That was not my experienc in my TX homestead, so let's see what Colorado has to offer 😊

What I'll do is measure the harvest of dry herb to see if I can get an idea of how big o a plot you roulw need to have this invaluable plant for nutritional infusions. I'm pretty sure this plot will not yield a years worth... But it should be a good amount.

Let's see! I'll add to this thread as the season progresses and I have data to share.

Oh! note there is a little Johnny Jump up in the middle there - which might get overgrown by Ms. Comf. Hmm, may have to do some re-planting later of Johnny.



  • H_D
    H_D Posts: 384 ✭✭✭

    I had a client give me a bag full of her organic comfrey to tincture last year :)

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin
    edited May 2019


    I want to get some too, but plan on planting it in a sunken old dryer drum. I am hoping that it will keep it contained...but what does that matter when it is good for everyone, even all of our various livestock? I would rather have that than poisonous tansy & leafy spurge, & that nasty thorny thistle that has popped up in the last couple years.

  • H_D
    H_D Posts: 384 ✭✭✭

    Comfrey is a great addition to feed for so many animals..which is why I assume mother nature made it as "aggressive" as it is :)

  • Jens the Beekeeper
    Jens the Beekeeper Posts: 643 admin

    I "borrowed" a plant from my parents home last year and planted it in our garden. My experience is as long as you do not cut the roots it will contain itself quite well.

    Ok I do not have the sterile variant so need to be watchfull for seedlings but our rabbits love it, I chop and drop and the bees and bumble bees really are drawn to it.

    Looking forward to the harvest updates ;-)

  • Karyn Pennington
    Karyn Pennington Posts: 71 ✭✭✭

    I've been leary of planting it because of it's known aggressive nature. I know it's good for compost/chop & drop as well as medicinally. I need to find a spot where it can't escape into other areas. I've been digging out bamboo, that the prior owner thought would be "fun to try" for 3 years now 😝. I've noticed that this year the roots taper and they pull out rather easily. Fingers crossed 🤞 that it's giving up.

    Let me know your ideas of how to keep it contained without digging down several feet with a barrier. Will it grow in a pot and survive a zone 6b winter?

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    @Karyn Pennington

    I'v eheard of comfreys aggressive reputation... but it just doesn't fight that hard in Texas. It will be fun to see what it does in Colorado. Persoanlly, I like aggressive plants - it means they are forgiving of my sporadic attention LOL

    Plus, I really do want a LOT of this stuff. It takes a huge amount of plant matter for infusions...

  • An
    An Posts: 42 ✭✭

    Yes your comfrey will surive in zone 6b, we are zone 5 and my parents grow it in zone 4. As a matter of fact my dad tried to eradicate his patch when he moved his garden by covering with black plastic and plywood for two years. The comfrey came back :)

    In my experience, the comfrey stays put unless you move it by missing roots, tilling, or letting the fertile plant seed.

    It is incredible to use topically on cuts, wounds (not deep ones), or broken and set bones. I used it as frozen ground up roots one winter when my kiddos came down with a really bad case of chicken pox. I spread the gooy mess all over their skin and it would alleviate the pain and itch for a couple of hours.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    Oh my gosh! I just saw some comfrey patches over at Doc Jones place in Idaho and I think I should dig it out today! Yikes, I mean really... that plant is seriously aggressive in Colorado and Idaho. It never grew like that in Texas. Whew!

    I'm not sure what to do... the plants were given to me by Lynn and I would hate to kill them be re=-transplanting again...

  • Karyn Pennington
    Karyn Pennington Posts: 71 ✭✭✭

    I think sooner would be better than later. I've heard that if you break the root, that's what causes them to spread. So, if you're going to move them to a more confined space you would want to do that before the root(s) get established.

    Keep us posted!

  • arcticdi
    arcticdi Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    I have planted my first comfrey plant here in TX and before I knew it the plant was covered in flowers and the leaves were huge. I cut it all the way back and within a week it was huge again and flowering. I know now that I should cut leaves before they get big and before the plant blooms. But, are the leaves and/or flowers usable even though it's bloomed? I didn't expect it to do so well so fast (must be all the rain!). Thanks for any education....Obviously I'll need to stay on top of this one....

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    Wow, mine in TX always struggled... are you in the North part? I know Jack Spirko up in Fort Worth did very well with comfrey.

  • arcticdi
    arcticdi Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    Yes, SW of FW. It grows like crazy.

  • bmaverick
    bmaverick Posts: 175 ✭✭✭


    We have several hundred mullein plants all over the place up here. Would the same method for comfrey work for mullein?

    I've watched a few YT vids with similar drying methods, but really, does one need to dry them to make a save or an infusion?

    My DW is already a major leap ahead of my game doing these saves and infusions. Before I start talking with her, I want to have some lingo speak in her realm. LOL

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    HI BM,

    of course you can use fresh material for salves and tinctures. I just had a conversation with Susun Weed and she was telling me ther eis an increadble difference - better quality - when you use the fresh herb.

    A thing to note - which I wasn't aware of - is that with dried herbs I generally use a 80 vodka - which is 40% alcohol. Susun reminded me that fresh herbs have a lot of water in them already, so you I need to use a much higher alcohol content. I think shed the equivelent of 160 proof, which is 80% alcohol.

    Hmm, I might post a question on this and see what the community thinks...

  • bmaverick
    bmaverick Posts: 175 ✭✭✭
    edited June 2019


    Thanks for the quick reply. We use a potato based vodka for vanilla bean extract due to many vodka's on the market ferment with wheat. Thus, the gluten sensitivity is greatly reduced and less issues with GMO wheat fermented vodkas. The GMO+round-up and fermented packs a whopper load of troubles. Going potato based from Puerto Rico (until that very bad hurricane) and from Poland are our best options for non-GMOs and next to organic one could get. Here is a quick list of the brands out there ... We've tried the Vikingfjord

    The linked review mentions the following to summarize it all ....

    • Texture and taste: Another key difference between potato-based vodkas and their cousins is the texture. The mouth-feel of a potato-based vodka is heavier and creamier with more viscosity. The potato base generally adds earthy natural flavors as well, depending on filtering methods.
    • Mixability: Many lovers of potato vodkas claim that though potato-based vodkas can be heavier in regard to texture, the flavor tends to be subtler, allowing for even more flexibility in terms of making your favorite cocktails.
    • Gluten-free: We would be remiss if we didn’t include the fact that potato-based vodkas offer a good alternative to folks who want to be able to enjoy a cocktail, but who struggle with a gluten intolerance.
    • Price: Finally, most potato-based vodkas are going to be more expensive because the overall costs of production are higher than most other vodkas. That being said, there are some really good inexpensive potato vodkas on the market — so be sure to compare before you buy!

    OK, I didn't figure on the water content being high. Bet mullein is high as the leaves are very soft, yet puffy. This would explain why folks use drying racks or sun dried in a mini-green house. I bet there is a sweet spot for the time drying. Not too wet and not too dry to achieve the best samples to use. hmmmm.

    Thanks again!

  • anita.toler73
    anita.toler73 Posts: 24 ✭✭✭

    Hi there,

    I used to have a comfrey plant in Michigan for many years, and although the individual plant grew bigger each year it never multiplied on me. I love comfrey but am leery of ingesting it, I have read that if one doesn't know what they are doing they could injure themselves internally. Now this is only what I have heard - I know Susan Weed drinks it regularly and she is very knowledgeable! I love to use it for internal wounds and will make a poultice of castor oil and comfrey. I recently used it daily on a hand sprain and it works wonders! I know if you have an open cut though they say not to use it until the outside heals, or the outside will heal before the inside. I hope that helps!

  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    I have several comfrey plants and none of them have spread beyond where I have planted them (zone 6B in western Missouri). I have not messed with them or their roots (except to dig them up to provide as starts to other people). I have not found them to be invasive.

    Marjory, if you move them, you might want to plant them further apart. I have a couple that are about 4-5 feet in diameter.

    There was a study done a while back that showed that comfrey root can be harmful, but it's my understanding that the mice in the study were given an outrageously excessive amount. Many herbalists feel that the study was flawed. They say that thousands of years of experience with the plant, without harmful effects, would contradict the study. Of course, do your own research and decide for yourself.

  • Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    Comfrey has not been super aggressive for me in Colorado and in fact, I have actually managed to kill a couple of transplants. I know it does have that reputation and maybe it is just because the soil I am working with was seriously depleted over many years but I just haven't seen the wild growth from it.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    I too thought comfrey was an aggressive grower. I planted mine around the edge of one of my beds and it took off. I cut it back and it took off again and then died! I have no idea why, maybe I didn't harvest enough? Got some young plants to try again soon. Hopefully this time.

  • CynthiaGraves
    CynthiaGraves Posts: 15 ✭✭✭

    I live in the Idaho mountains and the comfrey I brought from Oregon is growing well thru the winters here in the pot I brought it. Now I'm letting it out in my bulb garden at the end of the house. I love the crocus and tulips that pop up in the spring - I'm hoping the 3 plants of comfrey will stay put as long as I don't cut the roots.

    Thanks of the idea of putting some out where the thistles and mullein grow - it might be fun to see the three of them compete for the horrid rocky soil that lives between our driveways. Nothing like weekly driving to keep them in check. I love harvesting all three during the summer here.

  • Karin
    Karin Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    I had comfrey in our garden in Auckland New Zealand, and it didn't spread from the original, but of course new plants shot up as seedlings when it flowered. It does get seriously large tho, so you might want to plant yours further apart :)

  • Leslie Carl
    Leslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭

    The reason some of you don't have the problem with comfrey running amok is; there is a non-aggressive type of comfrey that does not produce seeds and the roots don't spread. So if you don't want your comfrey to multiply, look for the non-aggressive one. You can still divide the roots to make more plants if you wish, but at least you can control the growth.

    Comfrey is also called knitbone or boneset because it can heal broken bones. I make a healing salve using comfrey, plantain, and calendula. I use it all the time for cuts, scrapes, bruises, mosquito bites, ant stings, just about everything. it's my go-to ointment for healing. 😊

  • dimck421
    dimck421 Posts: 203 ✭✭✭

    I have been wanting comfrey too! The many many uses it offers. I would would want some that was will to be aggressive!

    Leslie Carl, what is the base of your salve (ointment)?

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    Hi @anita.toler73 and @Melissa Swartz - yes, I've heard of the studies that comfrey is supposed to have some toxicities. But like Susun Weed, I've been drinking comfrey infusions for years and love them. I only have an extra eye and leg to show for it! LOL Seriously, I'm fine for it. Yup, they often take mice, give them huge unreal amounts, and when the mice get sick they say "oh, that stuff is toxic".

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    Update - I was just walking the fields here in Colorado with Stephanie Sysson - a biodynamic herb farmer. She showed me her comfrey patch and told me if I didn't cut the roots or plow around it, it was a pretty well behaved plant. She also guessed that you only need a few plants (less than 4 sq.f.t patch) to grow a years supply of infusions. It's a prolific plant. I think the patch should be a bit bigger... but that is another experiment. ...

    hmm, just how big of a pathc of comfrey do you need for a years supply of infusions - say 100 infusions of 1 ounce each - that's uh, 6.25 pounds of dried plant matter - probably about 18 to 20 lbs. of fresh leaves.

  • Gardennan
    Gardennan Posts: 47 ✭✭✭

    What are the benefits of drinking comfrey infusions?

  • seeker.nancy - Central Texas
    seeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭

    I started with Comfrey in my raised bed, a single plant with sage, rosemary and fennel. The next year the comfrey put out pups, that sage hosted the cottontail family, the fennel shot for the stars and the rosemary died. I dug up the pups and gave them away. To make a long story shorter lol, the comfrey, sage, yarrow (in place of the rosemary), Mexican Mint Marigold are competeing for the space. I pulled the fennel in winter because it was only a foot from the powerline to the house. I put the main comfrey into the clay to see what it would do. I no sooner dig up a comfrey and another pops up in the bed lol. But I'm fine with that. I put out another comfrey into the clay this past spring. Mom C has bloomed like crazy so I may have populated the county...we shall see. But the excess comfrey (is that a thing?) makes a great green manure to just chop and drop and it also makes a great compost tea for the garden.

    As for the hype about comfrey...I think there are plants that some people should not use because it does not work well with their system. If the person is on medications they need to know how their meds work and how they are excreeted from the body to make sure that the effects of comfrey will not cause any complications. The studies are generally flawed as Marjory said because the doses they give are not representative of normal use. So, if you are not sure, start slow and listen to your body.

  • Jeanne Spears
    Jeanne Spears Posts: 27 ✭✭✭

    I have a row of comfrey along the edge of my garden and have had no problem with it spreading. I have dug roots for starts for other people and the plant will come back from the root , so the row as filled in some over the years from the bits of root left after I dug starts. It doesn't seem to mind our occasional sub-zero winter weather, but has trouble competing with grass until it gets well established.

    The plant makes a great mulch if you don't harvest the leaves for tea or animal feed. I have used comfrey tea to heal a stomach ulcer, and keep root powder as a blood stopper for cuts.

  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    Marjory Wildcraft, my big comfrey plant probably produces 20 pounds of fresh leaves over a growing season. I usually cut it back 4 times and easily get 5 pounds of leaves each time. Smaller plants (say, 2 feet in diameter) would yield maybe 10 pounds each. I've never weighed it, so I'm guessing.

    And Leslie Carl, I also make the comfrey, plantain and calendula salve. It truly is great stuff! However, boneset is a different plant from comfrey (knitbone), and the Indians used it to cure Dengue fever. Apparently the fever makes your bones ache, and the plant relieves that pain as it cures the fever. I've grown boneset and it is a different plant. I made a tincture from it.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    Wow @Melissa Swartz - so one comfrey plant would be a years worth of infusions??? That's awesome to know. And a super small space for a lot of nutrition.