Flax

Flax Overview

Description 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.
Genus Name Linum perenne
Common Name Flax
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 9 to 18 inches
Flower Color Blue
Foliage Color Chartreuse/Gold
Season Features Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 5, 6, 7, 8
Propagation Division, Leaf Cuttings, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

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.

Find more plants that work well in rock gardens here.

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.

Take a look at more drought-tolerant perennials.

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