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New Zealand Flax


New Zealand Flax

New Zealand Flax

Also known as New Zealand Flax, Phormium was actually employed by the Maoris in making a kind of clothing made of linen, as well as for baskets and ropes. Gardeners would recognize it as a colorful and large spiky plant that makes for an interesting focal point in containers or in the garden. Its leaves are sword-like and shoot up from the plant’s base and new hybrids now come in shades of pink, yellow, bronze, and red. The Latin name of the New Zealand Flax is Phormium cookianum and Phormium tenax. Its USDA hardiness zone is from 8/9 to 10. The NZ Flax’s size depends on its variety and conditions for growth. Several plants growing in containers are from 1 to 4 feet high.


The taller flax species, Phormium tenax, can grow as much as ten feet under the best conditions. The average height of Phormium plants grow to an average of 2 to 5 feet.

The NZ Flax’s ideal exposure to the sun is from full exposure to partial shade. Its blooming period is mid-summer, although it is mostly grown for its leaves.

The NZ Flax or Phormium is a pointy, evergreen sword-leafed perennial that is employed as a focal point in a garden or as a plant specimen. Some varieties are small enough to live in pots, others can grow several feet in diameter and more than seven feet tall.
On fully grown plants, the stalks of the flower shoot high above the leaves and create curving, tube-shaped yellow or red blossoms that have very high nectar content and a favorite among hummingbirds.

After the flowers bloom, seed pods form. If self-seeding is unwanted, it is a deadhead.

The New Zealand Flax can be used in place of the spiky Vinca or Dracena or in lieu of grass in beds of gardens. Phormiums are best shown off against delicate or low-growing foliage such as coreopsis or perennial geraniums. They can even grow abundantly in bogs.


During the season of autumn, the leaves of the New Zealand Flax can used as foliage in flower arrangements.

Some varieties of Phormium are Phormium ‘Bronze Baby’ (which has bronze foliage and grows to approximately 2 feet high by 2-3 feet wide and is great for planting in containers), Phormium ‘Duet’ (a dwarf variety that grows to approximately 1 foot, it has green leaves laced in cream with very stiff blades of leaf blades), Phormium ‘Jester’ (bronze with green stripping which grows to approximately 3 feet tall), and Phormium ‘Sundowner’ (has green leaves with pink rosy margins and grows to approximately 6 feet wide and tall).The New Zealand Flax prefers rich, moist soil and an area protected from harsh winds, but once strong enough, the plants are not really choosy about conditions.

New Zealand Phormium

The New Zealand Flax can be easily thrive in containers. Instead of using regular soil for potting, use a rich, organic blend and keep the plants watered well during the heat of summer. Avoid frost from reaching the plants. NZ Flax can thrive indoors, either under lights or as house plants. Although they prefer cool winter temperatures they still need lots of sunlight.



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