The Symphytums (Comfreys)

SYMPHYTUMORIENTALEThe Comfreys; sounds rather like the name of a country manor from an Agatha Christie novel doesn’t it? However, these invaluable but sometimes invasive groundcover plants are often overlooked for more showier ground coverers. Suitable for any shady position and thriving on moister clay soils they’re worth their collective weight in gold covering ground that other plants would turn their noses at and providing a long season of delicate flowers ranging from pure white, through gentle blue to pink and yellow. Although many varieties are invasive, others are much more well behaved,choice plants.The variegated forms provide bright feature plants in darker areas. S. ibericum ‘All Gold’ is as bright as a daffodil in early spring. Symphytums to give them their porper name are adaptable too, growing in sun or shade. To maintain a fresh and lush look we routinely shear the foliage off to ground level when flowering has finished just to keep the more vigorous varieties in check. They soon refurnish into much more manageable plants. So, if you don’t already have a Comfrey in your garden, take a browse through those listed below, I’m sure you’ll find one that suits your patch.

Symph. caucasium

Clusters of grey-green pointed leaves, colonise by underground stems, horribly invasive in the wrong place, but where allowable it is one of the delights of spring, with arching stems carrying clusters of sky-blue tubular flowers.

Hidcote blue


We value this form and its sister plant Hidcote Pink, as ground-cover between shrubs. Each makes weed-proof clusters of rough-textured green leaves. In late spring-early summer. S ‘Hidcote Blue’ produces branching stems which unroll croziers of red buds changing to blue and white tubular flowers. One of the best ground covering plants but difficult to irradicate once established.

Hidcote pink

Has no blue in it at all, just pink and white flowers. A grouping several feet across, in full flower, is a lovely site. If you cut it down after flowering it will maintain a more managable planting.


Pure white flowers in early summer, this Comfrey is a non spreader choosing rather to increase by self seeding instead. It looks great under shrubs and in awoodland setting which is where we plant ours and seems very happy.


This is a most useful and handsome plant making impenetrable weed-cover in shade among shrubs. It forms mounds of large dark green leaves, spreading by underground shoots. In spring before the new leaves are fully developed the fiddle-neck clusters of flowers change from burnt-orange buds to creamy-yellow bells.