How to divide New Zealand Flax

New Zealand flax is a specimen plant that is often grown for its large and colorful spikes. It is grown in garden borders, containers, and in the center of the garden in beds.

This perennial has large sword-like leaves that grow in an upright direction from the base of the plant. 

Although the plant looks tough or inexorable it’s now available in many hydrides and new cultivars with bright colors like, red, yellow, pink, or bronze.

These cultivars’ leave-blades can grow in the container and some can reach nearly a height of 7 feet.

Here, you’ll get all information about the New Zealand flax plant; how to grow and care for them, keep reading.

New Zealand Flax Growing and Caring Tips

New Zealand Flax 

When New Zealand flax gets mature, it produces red or yellow color blossoms depending upon its cultivar in the growing season. 

These blooms are rich in nectar and attract beautiful pollinators like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. 

Seed pods are produced after blooming, you can deadhead if self-seeding is not desired. However, the plant is not invasive and takes years to mature means you can plug them anytime.

According to Wikipedia, New Zealand flax’s scientific name is Phormium Tenax, because Maoris of New Zealand used this plant to make types of linen clothing, similar to flax, ropes, and baskets.

Similar to other perennial plants New Zealand flax also grows in the spring. To give a good start make sure to plant them before spring. It is a slowly grown plant that takes years to establish small seedlings and mature into full-size plants. 

Quick guide

Common NameNew Zealand Flax
Scientific NamePhormium Tenax
Plant typeHerbaceous perennial
Mature Size6 to 8 inches taller, 1 to 3 inches wider
Sun ExposureFull sun to part shade
Soil TypeAverage, well-drained soil
Soil pH5.5 to 6.5 (acidic)
Bloom TimeRarely flower; often grown for its foliage
Flower ColorRed
Hardiness Zones9 to 11 USDA; often grown in pots
Native AreaNew Zealand, Norfolk island

How To Grow New Zealand Flax

New Zealand’s flax-like moist and rich soil and a shelter that protects it from harsh wind. However, once they got established the plant is not that fussy about the condition.   

This plant is often grown fortis large bright foliage, many gardeners deadhead its flowers. 

But, it produces beautiful stalk of flowers in red or yellow color mid-summer. Actually, cutting flowers redirect energy to foliage that encourages more growth.

The plant produces bloom when it gets mature. New Zealand flax take several years to reach its ideal height which mainly depends on its variety. Usually, it grows one to four feet taller in height but some cultivars or varieties can reach up to 10 feet under ideal conditions.

The ideal place to grow this plant is in a large container. You can bring it indoors in the winter to protect it from frost. New Zealand flax is cold tolerant but up to some extend. In the spring, when all threats of frost are gone you can relocate it outdoor gradually reacclimated before transferring permanently.

New Zealand flax


New Zealand flax soil is not fussy about soil; it can thrive in poor soil and get well-drained. It prefers acidic soil but does fine in neutral soil. If you are planting in the soil potting-mix soil is preferred over standard ground soil.


New Zealand flax does well in full sun to part shade. It is generally grown for its foliage, it needs much sunlight. In fact, in the hot summer afternoon shade will enhance its leaf color.

You can know whether it getting enough light or not by checking its leaves. Yellow-brown or wilt leaves indicate a lack of sunlight.


Watering is essential in plant care. Lack of water or poor watering practice can ruin your plant.

  •  Although New Zealand flax becomes water-tolerant when getting matures, in the initial stage, it requires at least one inch of water every week. 
  • Water can be from rainfall or through irrigation. Water only when the base soil of the plant looks dry. Your goal should keep the soil moist, not soggy.
  • Water direct into the base of the plant. This is because wet leaves often invite pest and fungal diseases that can stunt plant’s growth.


New Zealand flax produces red and yellow flowers in the mid-summer. The plant is mainly grown for its foliage, gardeners often deadhead these flowers to redirect energy to grow new leaves. 

Deadhead dry leaves occasionally to keep your plant look neat.

Temperature and humidity

New Zealand flax is hardy and evergreen in USDA zones 9 to 11. But, gardeners that grow it in zones 7 to 8 zones treat them as an annual plant die in winter and come back in the spring. If you live in these zones or below it plants New Zealand flax in the container to shelter it or bring it indoors in the winter.


This plant can sustain in poor soil so does not need much feeding to keep growing. If you are growing them as an annual plant, fertilize them a little bit to ensure nutrients and retain soil moisture.

How To Divide New Zealand flax

transplant new zealand flax

Transplant New Zealand flax when it gets affected by pests or diseases. You can also transplant to grow new plants in the garden. 

Transplanting this plant is a bit tough, especially in its mature stage. The leaves and shoots of the plant are large and hard.

  • First you need a strong spade and a sharp shear. 
  • Toss the whole plant out from the soil with the help of a spade.
  • Divide roots the plant in sections so that you can plant them on the other side to grow a new plant.
  • In the process roots will might get damage, do not worry it will grow once again.
  • Use shear to cut its large leaves into small ones. Cut leaves till they get six to eight inches in height.
  • Plant this section in the loose soil. Sow the hard part inside the soil.
  • Give at least one foot of space between each plant to ensure it grows freely. 
  • Pour water to keep soil moist. In the beginning plants need more water, water thoroughly.
  • If you live in a hot area, spread mulch around the plant to keep soil moist for a longer time. spreading mulch will retain water in the soil.
  • The ideal time to transplant New Zealand flax is after winter or early spring. 


New Zealand flax contains low levels of cyanide compounds that make it toxic when ingested in heavy doses. It is not reported that any pet or animal gets affected by this plant because animals do not enjoy eating them. So, danger to pets like dogs and cats is near negligible.

Common Pests and Diseases

Mealybugs usually like to feast on New Zealand flax and are hard to get rid of because they move inside the hard long leaves and shoots.

Many times it’s better to discard such infected plants just after noticing because they can infect other companion plants too.

Fungal leaf spots can also mar the growth of the leaves. 

Pests like spider mites and whiteflies are also susceptible, especially if you are growing indoors. To treat them neem oil or soap water is the easiest way. learn how to get rid of whiteflies and spider mites.

However, if you provide them with the required condition they will not be infected. Plant them in an open area for good air circulation and water them properly. Improper space and watering practices are the main reasons for any diseases.

New Zealand Flax Varieties

New Zealand Flax varieties

New Zealand flax has many varieties and cultivars. In fact, a new cultivar or hybrid gets introduced and they get more and more ornamental. Go take a look at your nearby nursery and discover beautiful varieties. 

Some of the popular varieties are:

Phormium ‘Duet’ 

The plant grows about 1 foot tall in height and has green leaves with a cream color edge in a stiff blade shape.

Phormium ‘Jester 

It Grows about three feet and has bronze leaves with green striping.

Phormium tenax ‘Bronze Baby’

Looking for container planting, choose this variety. It grows up to two feet tall in height and spreads about two to three feet and has bronze foliage.

Phormium ‘Sundowner’ 

The plant grows six feet tall and wide, producing green leaves with rosy pink margins. It grows 13 feet in height and spread 8 feet.

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Before going if you want to grow beautiful flowers in your garden? Then click on these articles also.