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Linum

Flax
Linaceae
Annuals, Perennials

Plants with erect, branching stems and narrow leaves produce an abundance of shallow-cupped, five-petaled flowers over a long bloom period. Each bloom lasts only a day, but others keep coming. The flax of commerce—Linum usitatissimum—is grown for its fiber and seeds, which yield linseed oil.

Use in borders; some naturalize freely in uncultivated areas. Light, well-drained soil. Most perennial kinds live only 3 or 4 years and should be replaced regularly. Easy to grow from seed; perennials also can be propagated from cuttings. Difficult to divide.

Linum grandiflorum
Linum grandiflorum

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Linum grandiflorum

From North Africa. Grows to 1 1/2–2 1/2 ft. tall and 6–12 in.wide, with narrow gray-green leaves. Summer flowers are rose pink, 1–1 1/2 in. wide. Sow seed thickly in place in early spring or (in mild-winter climates) in fall. Self-sows without becoming a pest and is often included in wildflower mixes.

Linum lewisii

Native to western North America. Upright, to 3 ft. high, with abundant sky blue flowers. Does best at higher elevations in the southern part of the range.

Linum perenne
Linum perenne

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Linum perenne

Native from Europe to Central Asia. This is the most vigorous blue-flowered flax. It grows to 2 ft. tall and 1 1/2 ft. wide. Stems are usually leafless on the lower part. Profuse bloomer, producing branching clusters of light blue flowers that close in shade or late in the day. Blooms in late spring and summer. Self-sows freely.

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