Airy stems and pretty sky-blue flowers give flax a delicate appearance. But don’t let the frothy beauty of this tufted perennial fool you—it stands up to drought and heat with ease. Flax regularly blooms right through the dog days of summer in many areas and adds a cool wash of color to any landscape.
Flax Planting Ideas
Flax grows as a large carpet of color in its native environments of Europe and Asia. For a pleasing look in the garden, flax can be planted in large drifts to mimic its native growth habit. It's easy to start from seeds; just scatter them over a large area of well-drained soil and enjoy the benefits of this blooming groundcover plant. Flax is also well-suited to rock gardens, the front of a perennial border, and curbside where it can handle heat and drought.
Flax Care Must-Knows
Flax thrives in full sun and light, well-drained soil. Wet feet will kill this plant. Heavy, clay soil causes this perennial to develop shallow roots, which prove challenging to its survival in winter.
Start flax by planting seeds directly in the garden. Some of the plants grown this way may even flower the first year. In addition, flax can be started from transplants purchased at the nursery. Water these plants regularly for three or four weeks after planting to encourage a strong root system. Reduce watering after that point.
Flax begins its profuse blooming in early summer and doesn't finish blooming for about 8 weeks. Each five-petal blue flower lasts only one day: opening in the morning but dropping petals by late afternoon. Trim plants back by half their height after flowering finishes for the season. This pruning may spur another round of flowering in early fall. If you love this plant with its wiry stems and blue blossoms, keep your fingers crossed; flax happily self-seeds in ideal growing conditions.
Worth noting: Perennial flax's tough, fibrous stems were once used to make linen and rope in Europe. Today, linen is made from the stems of several varieties of annual flax called Linum usitatissimum.
Plant Flax With:
Perhaps the best-loved perennials, herbaceous peonies belong in almost every garden. Their sumptuous flowers -- single, semidouble, anemone centered or Japanese, and fully double -- in glorious shades of pinks and reds as well as white and yellow announce that spring has truly arrived. The handsome fingered foliage is usually dark green and remains good-looking all season long. Provide deep rich soil with plenty of humus to avoid dryness, and don't plant the crowns more than 2 inches beneath the surface. But these are hardly fussy plants. Where well suited to the climate, they can thrive on zero care.
Easy, always fresh, and always eye-catching, Shasta daisy is a longtime favorite. All cultivars produce white daisy flowers in various degrees of doubleness and size. The sturdy stems and long vase life make the flowers unbeatable for cutting. Shasta daisy thrives in well-drained, not overly rich soil. Taller sorts may need staking.
Easy and undemanding, veronicas catch the eye in sunny gardens over many months. Some have mats with loose clusters of saucer-shaped flowers, while others group their star or tubular flowers into erect tight spikes. A few veronicas bring elusive blue to the garden, but more often the flowers are purplish or violet blue, rosy pink, or white. Provide full sun and average well-drained soil. Regular deadheading extends bloom time.
With brilliant yellow, pink, or white cups or goblets, beautiful evening primroses are so easy to grow that you'll see them thriving uncared for along roadsides. Their cup-shape flowers of various sizes open during the day, and many are wonderfully fragrant. Take note, though: Some spread enthusiastically and need control.