More Information About Phormium
You've seen them in books, you've marveled at them on posters, you've lusted after them on calendars...now you can have one for your own. Of course, I'm talking about phormium. The genus Phormium was formerly placed in the Agave family, but in the last few years has been given its own family, Phormiaceae. It is native to the South Pacific islands of New Zealand and Norfolk. New Zealand flax produces fibers that are used to make rope and fabric, but it is not the "true" flax (Linum usitatissimum).
There are only two species in the genus , Phormium tenax and the smaller Phormium cookianum (aka P. colensoi) and both make attractive garden plants by providing an upright or arching grass-like habit and a spiky, red flower cluster that attracts hummingbirds. Phormium has been a popular garden plant in the western US since the 1870s, and was starting to be considered mundane. In the last 30 years, however, hybridization efforts have rejuvenated the Phormium world with smaller sizes and many new colors. Today, Phormium popularity is higher than ever and it is used not just in the garden, but in containers and the cut foliage market.
Most phormium cultivars prefer dry air and moderate temperatures (not too hot, not too cold). We trialed many phormium selections and sell only the ones that can tolerate the heat, humidity, and cold of our Raleigh climate. In milder climates phormium grows well in full sun, but in hot locations it prefers bright shade to avoid leaf burn. It likes consistent moisture but once established is fairly drought-tolerant. You may see leaf damage if conditions are too dry. While they may suffer some cold damage in winter and flowering is unlikely to occur, these phormium still have a great garden form and presence. When you are ready to buy phormium for your garden, check out our online offering of phormium for sale.