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Common name: New Zealand Flax

Phormiums are exotic-looking evergreen perennials. They offer striking, often highly-coloured sword-like leaves and slender flower spikes that rise above the foliage. While best grown in sunny borders and gravel gardens, they make great focal points in containers.


Phormiums form shapely domes of broad, upright or arching, sword-like leaves ranging in colour from yellow-green to bronze-purple. The leaves are often striped or edged with cream, yellow, pink or red. Mature clumps produce tall stems carrying curious-looking yellow-green or red flowers in summer.


They are happy in most free-draining soils and in full sun. In northern parts of the UK, plant in sheltered, sunny position.


Phormiums may be slow to establish in very light, dry soils. On wet soils, the roots can suffer in the winter months. The leaves can also be severely damage by hard frost, so winter protection may be needed in cold snaps.

Did you know?

Though sometimes offered for sale as shrubs, phormiums are actually evergreen perennials from New Zealand and were grown as a source of fibre for traditional Maori textiles and rope making.

Growing guide

Phormium by size

Phormium we recommend

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Useful advice

Container maintenance

Container maintenance

Containers: summer selection

Containers: summer selection

Gravel gardens

Gravel gardens

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