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Phormium hybrid
Phormium hybrid

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Zone
Zones 5, 7-9, 13-28, H1, H2
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Phormium

Agavaceae
Evergreen, Perennials

From New Zealand.Dramatic plants with many swordlike evergreen leaves that grow in a fan pattern; make good garden focal points. The many variegated selections provide year-round color in perennial and shrub borders, on hillsides, in seaside plantings, near swimming pools. Cool weather intensifies foliage colors. On established plants, branched clusters of tubular flowers appear in late spring or early summer, rising to twice the height of the foliage clump in some kinds. Nursery plants in containers are deceptively small; when you plant, allow enough room to accommodate a mature specimen. Cut out flower stalks when blossoms wither.As leaves age, colors fade; cut out older ones as close to base as possible to maintain best appearance. On variegated sorts, watch for reversions to solid green or bronze; remove reverted crowns down to root level before they take over the clump. Clumps can remain in place indefinitely. To increase plantings, take individual crowns from clump edges; or divide large clumps.

Phormium cookianum

Leaves arch gracefully, drooping at the tips; they grow 4–5 ft. long, 2 1/2–3 in. wide. Mature clumps are 4–5 ft. tall, spreading to 8–10 ft. or more. ‘Black Adder’ grows 3–4 ft. tall and wide, with glossy, deep burgundy-black leaves. ‘Flamingo’ grows just 1–2 ft. high and wide, with leaves in shades of orange, rose, light green, and yellow. P. c. hookeri ‘Cream Delight’has leaves with a broad, creamy yellow central stripe and narrow green margins edged in dark red. P. c. h. ‘Tricolor’ has greenleaves margined in cream andred; foliage is flushed with rosein cool weather.

Phormium hybrids

These crosses between P. cookianum andP. tenax were selected for distinctive leaf color. Leaves are 1 1/2–2 in. wide unless otherwise noted.

‘Apricot Queen’. To 3 ft. high,5 ft. wide. Leaves are 2–3 in.wide, light yellow with greenmargins; blushed with apricot incool weather.

‘Bronze Baby’. To 3–5 ft. tall and wide. Leaves are deep reddish brown aging to deep bronze; narrow orange leaf edges and midrib (on underside) glow in sunlight.

‘Dark Delight’. Arching habitto 4 ft. tall, 8 ft. wide. Leavesare 1–2 in. wide; very dark butvivid reddish brown with a thinorange midrib.

‘Dazzler’. Slow grower to 3 ft. high, 5–6 ft. wide, with twisting, arching leaves in scarlet striped with maroon.

‘Duet’. To 2–2 1/2 ft. high and wide. Stiff, erect to slightly arching leaves to 1 3/4 in. wide are lime green with creamy yellow stripes at margins.

‘Dusky Chief’. Dense clumpto 3–5 ft. tall and wide. Winered leaves are 2–3 in. wide andhave coral edges that glowwhen backlit.

‘Ed Carman’. Upright growthto 2–3 ft. high and wide; bronzeleaves are edged with narrowbands of light pink to white.

‘Firebird’. Stiffly upright, to 6 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide. Rose-red leaves have bronze-green margins.

‘Golden Ray’. Upright to slightly arching grower to 4–5 ft. tall and wide. Leaves are striped in green and cream, with a red edge.

‘Guardsman’. To 6–8 ft. tall and wide, with rigid, upright leaves to 3 in. wide. Bronze-maroon with bright red border.

‘Jack Spratt’. To 1 1/2 ft. highand wide, with 1/2-in.-wide, twisting, reddish brown leaves.

‘Jester’. To 1 1/2–2 1/2 ft. high and wide. Arching leaves are rich pink with hints of orange, edged in lime green.

‘Maori Chief’ (‘Rainbow Chief’). Robust, upright to 6 ft. tall and 6–8 ft. wide. Leaves to 2 1/2 in. wide, green with rosy edges. Similar to ‘Sundowner’ but more refined.

‘Maori Maiden’ (‘Rainbow Maiden’). To 3–4 ft. tall, 4–6 ft. wide. Leaves to 1 3/4 in. wide are salmon-pink (fading to cream) with narrow olive green stripes at edges.

‘Maori Queen’ (‘Rainbow Queen’). To 3 ft. high, 4–5 ft. wide. Shorter, more upright, narrower-leafed version of ‘Sundowner’. Stiff leaves to 2 1/4 in. wide are bronzy green, with broad marginal streaks of coralfading to cream.

‘Maori Sunrise’ (‘Rainbow Sunrise’). To 3 ft. high, 5–6 ft. wide, with stiff leaves up to 2 1/2 in. across. Foliage is margined and striped in bronzy green; base color is pinkish orange in younger leaves, aging to cream in older ones.

‘Morticia’. To 3–4 ft. tall and wide, with stiff, purple-black leaves.

‘Pink Stripe’ (‘Pink Edge’). To 4–6 ft. tall and wide. Gray-green foliage has a purplish tinge. Each leaf has a bright pink margin that is broadest at the base.

‘Platt’s Black’. Somewhat arching growth to 2–3 ft. high and wide; leaves up to 1 in. wide. One of the darkest varieties, with dark burgundy to nearly black leaves. Grows best in cooler climates.

‘Rainbow Warrior’. Similar to‘Maori Maiden’ but with leavesin a somewhat darker salmon,fading to cream with age. Foliage turns nearly blood red in winter.

‘Sea Jade’. To 4–5 ft. tall,5–6 ft. wide, with rather stiff,upright leaves to 2 1/2 in. wide.Maroon to bronze in center,with lime green margins andundersides.

‘Sundowner’. Erect growth to 5–7 ft. tall and wide, with leaves to 3 in. wide. Olive or bronzy green foliage has stripes of pinkish red (aging to cream) at or near edges and a fine red edge; leaf undersides are grayish green.

‘Sunset’. To 4–6 ft. tall and wide. Stiffly upright leaves have slightly arching tips; color is apricot to pink, striped with green.

‘Surfer’. To 2–4 ft. tall and wide. Maroon-bronze leaves have grayish green undersides and a narrow, gray-green central stripe. Foliage is stiff but arching and twisting.

‘Thumbelina’. Similar to ‘Jack Spratt’ but more upright growing and a little darker.

‘Tiny Tiger’ (‘Aurea Nana’). A miniature, reaching barely 1 ft. high and wide. Leaves areflushed pink in cool weather.‘Tony Tiger’ is a 2-ft. version.

‘Tom Thumb’. Upright clumpto 2–3 ft. high and wide. Green,wavy-edged, 1/2-in.-wide leaves have red-bronze margins.

‘Yellow Wave’. To 4–5 ft. tall, 5–7 ft. wide, with 2 1/4-in.-wideleaves in chartreuse with limegreen margins. Leaves can burn in hot sun.

Phormium tenax ‘Variegatum’
Phormium tenax ‘Variegatum’

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Phormium tenax

Large, bold plant with bronzy green leaves to 9 ft. long, 5 in.wide; rigid and mainly upright, curving mainly (if at all) near tips.Mature clumps are about as wide as or a little wider than high.Vertical inflorescences— often to twice the height of foliage clump—contain many dull red or reddish orange flowers; seedpods are twisted but held erect. Many choices, offering great variety in plant size and leaf color. Note that bronze-leafed varieties take on a deeper color in full sun.

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