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Phormium hybrid
Phormium hybrid

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Zones 7-9, 14-24, H1, H2
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Full, Partial
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Moderate, Minimal

Phormium cookianum

Mountain Flax



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 cookianum

Leaves arch gracefully, drooping at the tips; they grow to 4–5 ft. long and 2 1/2–3 in. wide. Mature clumps are 4–5 ft. tall, spreading to 8–10 ft. or more. ‘Flamingo’ grows to 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 green leaves margined in cream and red; foliage is flushed with rose in cool weather.

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