The trouble with Phormium

May 18, 2022

The New Zealand Flax or Phormium are eye catching plants that can make a real statement in your garden. They come in red, pink, golden yellow and dark green with slender, almost tropical, flower spikes. What's more, they are incredibly low maintenance plants.

They are fairly commonly used now and I frequently see them on new-build estates. There's just one problem… Phormium can reach a huge size! The yellow wave photographed here will ultimately grow to 2.5m wide and 4 metres high.

So, if you're thinking of planting a Phormium in your garden, make sure you have the space to accommodate it! In this article, you'll learn why Phormium can be a great addition to your garden, and how to look after it.

The benefits of Phormium

Phormium is a beautiful, structural plant that is low maintenance and makes a real impact.

Phormium thrives in both sunny and shady locations. They are salt-tolerant, drought tolerant and frost tolerant.

Phormium is a great choice for both containers and garden beds.

But be aware of the potential size before you plant one in your garden! Otherwise, you may end up with a plant that's too big for its location.

Three tips for managing Phormium in your garden

- Choose the right variety for your garden. There are dwarf varieties available that won't grow too big.

- Give your plant some room to grow. Phormium needs space to spread out, so don't plant them too close to other plants or fences.

- Cut back any dead leaves or flower spikes. This will help to keep your plant healthy and prevent it from getting too big.

How to prune Phormium

Pruning is important to manage the size of your Phormium and to encourage new growth. The best time to prune Phormium is in late winter or early spring.

Cut back any dead leaves or flower spikes with gardening shears. You can also cut back the plant itself if it's getting too big for its location. But those leaves can be feisty so it's always a good idea to wear protective gloves and even eye protection if your plant is particularly large.

Be aware that cutting back a Phormium will encourage it to produce more foliage, so don't be too aggressive with your pruning!

Phormium is a great choice for low-maintenance gardening. With a little care, you can enjoy this beautiful plant in your garden for many years to come.

This image is a great example of how not to prune your phormium.

Alternative plants you could use

If you're looking for a plant with similar benefits to Phormium but without the potential size, consider the following alternatives:

  • Cordyline
  • Lomandra
  • Carex
  • Grasses

So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about growing Phormium in your garden. Will you be adding one to your garden this year?

If you’d like any help designing a planting plan for your garden get in touch with us today.