Common Name: perennial flax
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: Europe
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Sky blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Suggested Use: Annual, Naturalize
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil
Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers light soils in full sun. Tends to root shallowly in heavy clay soils resulting in increased winter survival problems. Easily grown from seed (some plants may flower the first year). Freely self-seeds in optimum growing conditions. Cut some stems back by 1/2 mid-way through the bloom period to extend flowering. Tolerates heat, humidity and drought.
Perennial flax is a short-lived, tufted perennial which typically grows 1-2' tall. Features 5-petaled, sky blue flowers which open for only one day. A profuse bloomer for a period of up to 8 weeks in late spring. Flowers open early on sunny mornings, but petals usually drop by late afternoon. Thin, wiry stems with short, narrow, linear leaves (to 1" long) support profuse numbers of nodding flower buds. Fibrous stems appear delicate, but are extremely difficult to break and were once used in Europe to make linen and rope. The flax plants which are commercially grown today for making linen (from the stems) and linseed oil (from the seeds) are several varieties of annual flax, Linum usitatissimum.
No serious insect or disease problems. Cutworms and grasshoppers are occasional insect pests.
Flax looks best when massed. Effective in rock gardens, border fronts, meadows, wild gardens or informal naturalized plantings. Also a colorful addition to an herb garden.