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Phormium hybrid
Phormium hybrid

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Zone
Zones 5, 7-9, 14-28, H1, H2
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Phormium tenax

New Zealand Flax
Agavaceae
Evergreen, Perennials

PHORMIUM

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 the base as possible to maintain the best appearance. On variegated sorts, watch for reversions to solid green or bronze; remove reverted crowns down to the 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 tenax ‘Variegatum’
Phormium tenax ‘Variegatum’

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Phormium tenax

Large, bold plant with bronzy green leaves to 9 ft. long and 5 in. wide; rigid and mainly upright, curving mainly (if at all) near the tips. Mature clumps are about as wide as or a little wider than high. Vertical inflorescences—often to twice the height of the 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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