How to care for Flax (Phormium)

Flax (Phormium tenax) is a very popular landscape plant right now - ranging in size from 7' to 12", it's strong vertical lines add great form and structure to the landscape. Unfortunately, most landscapers don't know how to care for it. The method is so simple - yet seemingly so elusive, based on how almost all Flax I see in San Francisco has been ruined through improper care.

The first photo below shows Flax that has been properly cared for: faded leaves are removed from the base of the plant, and the tips are NEVER cut. The second photo shows the way untrained laborers cut the leaves from the top, which disfigures the plant for months, until the damage can grow out with new leaves.

The image above shows strong, tall and graceful vertical leaves -as always, a plant's most beautiful form is it's natural one. The photo below shows a Flax plant brutally cut from above, which disfigures the plant for many months. Repeatedly pruning a Flax plant in this way will eventually kill it.

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