There are few plants that offer the bold vertical growth and wide range of colorful foliage for the garden as the New Zealand Flax. The Phormium is a perfect plant to add year round color in gardens that don’t dip much below the low 20’s F. With its long, strap leaves, this plant can be used as a sentry to welcome you through an entryway, as a backdrop for shorter, rounder plants, as a companion to a boulder, a water garden, a statue or as a focal point all alone. Not only does the New Zealand Flax make a statement in the garden, you can find Phormium plants in a range of wonderful colors that will paint your garden even in the dreariest season. This plant can handle water so long as the drainage is good and it is also drought tolerant. The plain green and red varieties handle hot sun better than the colorful leaves. In hot, chaparral or desert locations, give Phormiums some shade. In areas where the sun is not so strong they can handle full sun. Here is a partial list of some of the wonderfully colored varieties of New Zealand Flax you can grow in your landscape.
- Reds and maroons: P. (Phormium) ‘Dazzler’, P.’Dusky Chief’, P. ‘Firebird’, P.’Guardsman’, P.’Monrovia Red’, P.’Rubrum’, P.’Tom Thumb’, P. ‘Amazing red’
- Peaches: P.’Flamingo, P. ‘Jester’, P.’Sunset’, P.’Apricot queen’
- Pinks: P.’Pink Stripe’, P.’Sundowner’
- Yellows: P.’Yellow Wave’, P.’Golden Sword
- Blacks: P.’Dark Delight’, P.’Chocolate’, P.’Bronze baby’, P. ‘Platt’s Black’
- Green: Phormium tenax, P. cookianum, P. ‘Sea Jade’ (with bold dark maroon center stripe)
- White/Cream: P. ‘Variegata’, P. ‘Tricolor’
- Mixed colors: P. ‘Mauri maiden’, P. ‘Mauri queen’, P. ‘Mauri chief’, P ‘Mauri Sunset’
And this is just a sampling of all the wonderful varieties of New Zealand Flax or Phormium plants that can add color to your garden.
Check out the new introduction of Kong coleus plants displayed this year at the California Spring Trials. Bred by Ball Growers, this new coleus plant sports huge leaves painted in bright colored designs. The display for the Spring Trials featured many different varieties of coleus plants. Some of the smaller plants are sun-tolerant even where temperatures get hot in the summer. The larger leafed varieties like the newly introduced coleus ‘Kong’ needs shade. Although most coleus plants grow as annuals, some odd plants can over-winter and live for more than one season where conditions are mild. The flowers of the coleus are attractive spires of purple, but the leaves are usually so showy that they overwhelm the flowers.
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