Phormium 'Jester'

Common Name: New Zealand flax 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asphodelaceae
Zone: 8 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: Flowers not showy
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen


Best grown in evenly moist, average to rich, well-draining soils in full sun to part shade. Intolerant of poor, heavy, waterlogged soils. Site in a location protected from strong, drying winds. Provide afternoon shade to prevent leaf scorching or bleaching, particularly in inland climates with hot summers. Temperatures below 20°F may damage the foliage. Takes well to container culture, but container-grown plants rarely bloom.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phormium is a small genus of two species of clump-forming, herbaceous, evergreen perennials native to a variety of habitats in New Zealand and Norfolk Island including low-lying swampy areas, hillsides, and coastal bluffs. Plants are characterized by their grass-like, lanceolate foliage, tufted growth habit, and upright, branched inflorescences. Breeding work has produced colorful leaved hybrids in various sizes that are common in cultivation.

Genus name comes from the Greek word phormion meaning "mat" as the Maoris used it to weave garments and baskets.

'Jester' is a hybrid selection of New Zealand flax that features colorful, variegated foliage. Mature plants will reach up to 3' tall and spread to fill a similar area. The slightly arching, lanceolate leaves are coral-pink in color with contrasting green stripes. Plants are mainly grown for the foliage and the flowers are not considered horticulturally significant.


Watch for mealy bugs.


Mass or accent specimen for mixed borders, gravel gardens, seaside gardens, containers.