Great Design Plant: New Zealand Flax

New Zealand flax brings texture, colour and foliage to the scene yearlong — particularly proficient in otherwise barren autumn and winter gardens. While falling leaves, a visible cue of the shifting of the seasons, are always a visual treat, the end result is frequently a landscape full of bare branches. Flax fares nicely together with its deciduous neighbors with no foliage, its big leaves improving the landscape in each season.

Ubiquitous to New Zealand, flax became called the West using a James Cook expedition in the 18th century. It has just continued to grow in popularity as. Showcased in the gardens of Paris and made popular in today’s California backyard by noted landscape designer Thomas Church, flax has established itself as a major player in the lawn. And thanks to science and technology, the development of colorful and variegated hybrids may help to energize interest in this hardworking garden accent.

Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture

Botanical name: Phormium cultivars and hybrids
Common title: New Zealand flax
USDA zones: 8 to 11 (find your zone)
Water necessity: Small to moderate
Sun necessity: Full sun to partial shade
Mature dimensions: 1 to 9 feet tall and wide, depending on species
Advantages and tolerances: Tolerant of coastal states, soil and end
Seasonal attention: Year-round foliage; blossoms in summer or spring
When to plant: late spring or summer

Brian Maloney Design Associates

Distinguishing traits. Flaxesare defined by rigid leaves of a substantial size, attaining heights of around 9 feet. Primarily upright, the leaves slightly in the tips and clump to epic proportions. Erect blossoms emerge in spring or summer, but it is the foliage which provides most attention.

Shown: Phormium ‘Wings of Gold’ with Echium fastuosum

Dig Your Garden Landscape Design

Colorful and variegated varieties of Phormium tenax in addition to hybrids created with another Phormium, Phormium cookanium, have revived and reinvigorated flax’s popularity. While P. tenax is more of a vertical plant and P. cookanium arches greatly, hybrids can fall anywhere in between.

Shown: Phormium ‘Jester’

Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture

The best way to utilize it. New Zealand flax acts like an ornamental grass on steroids — it is a garden focal point towards the extreme. It has a commanding presence in the backyard and should be implanted with that in mind. Surround flax with grasses, plant it in containers or even showcase it alongside pools and water features à la Thomas Church.

Phormium’s tolerance of sea-coast states and end makes it an excellent windbreak solution, particularly along the coast.

Shown: Phormium ‘Firebird’

Debora carl landscape layout

Planting notes. Another New Zealand native that is springy and easy to grow, flax can survive in most situations which typically will be botanical deal breakers, such as poor soil conditions, salt and wind. It will grow in full sun or partial shade. It’s vulnerable to rot, however, if the soil doesn’t drain nicely.

Temperatures far below 20 degrees Fahrenheit may cause the plant to expire — if you are on the cusp, consider planting it in a garden spot that will receive additional protection. Cool weather and full sun intensify its own color. Be sure to eliminate spent foliage and blossoms.

Shown: Phormium ‘Amazing Red’

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