Scientific name: Phormium spp. & cvs.


Common names: “New Zealand flax” “flax lily” ” mountain flax”

Plant Type: Evergreen perennial


Zone: 8-10

Light: Full sun – light shade

Exposure: Sheltered or exposed

Soil: Average – fertile

Moisture: Well drained – drought, will be dead quickly in wet soil


Plant Size: H 6″-6′ W 8″-8′

Leaf and Stem shape: Clumps of “fan shaped” leaves, varying in colour from green, bronze-yellow, to reds and purples, some have stripes

Flower: Erect panicles of of flowers from July-September

Maintenance: Remove winter damaged leaves in the spring, pull them out from base or cut down to 4″, might need protecting in colder winters or may not survive: leaf mulch with Garry oak leaves to protect from cold

Landscape use: Low maintenance gardens, coastal gravel gardens, handles ocean spray

Propagate: by division

Pests & Disease: mealy bugs may be a problem

*Deer might nibble it, P. tenax is the least appetizing for them

Comments: Used by the Maori natives of New Zealand to make clothing and rope, flowers attract birds


Phormium tenax – Large stiff upright foliage

P. colensoi was (cookianum) more lax foliage


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