New Zealand Flax Care Guide

The New Zealand flax tropical-looking, easy-care plant features long colorful sword-like leaves to emerge from a clump. Multicolored foliage of dark red, green, golden, purple, and burgundy make this an eye-catching display.
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  • Light : High

    Full sun (6-8 hours) to part sun (4-6 hours)

  • Water : Medium

    Water the Phormium regularly to provide consistently moist soil to get the roots established. If planted as an indoor plant, keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.

  • Humidity : Low

    No extra humidity is needed for this plant.

  • Temp : 36℉ - 100℉

    Use as a perennial in plant zones 9-11 and annuals in all other zones.

  • Zone : 9|10|11

    This plant will not thrive in conditions colder than 20-25°F for long periods of time and will damage the leaves, stems and roots.

  • Fertilizer : Yearly

    Add a top dressing of compost to enrich the soil nutrients each year in the Spring.

  • Repotting : Yearly


    To bring indoors for colder climates: Place in a container deep enough to contain the root system. Use well-draining potting mixes such as cacti and succulent mix. Re-pot every two to three years or if the roots are beginning to get crowded. Re-pot in the spring, using a 2 inches bigger pot with drainage holes to keep the roots drier. Place a piece of screening at the bottom of the container over the drainage hole to secure the soil and allow to drain. Keep them consistently moist but not soggy. Place in a bright area in a southern or mixed exposure.


    After the last frost date (in planting zones lower than zone 9), plant the New Zealand flax in the spring. Choose a full sun (6-8 hours) to part shade area. Cultivate the native soil for good drainage with organic matter like compost and sand with slightly acidic soil pH. Be generous by digging a hole twice the pot's width and 1 inch shorter than the grower pot to raise it above the soil level for good drainage. Use a pitchfork or a sharp object to stab the soil walls to make several indentions for the roots to take hold. Tickle the roots to loosen them if they wrap inside the container. Place the plant in the center of the hole. Fill the hole with water first, so the roots get another good drink. Next, backfill with native soil mixed with compost by one third to one half (if the native soil is clay). Add a rooting hormone fertilizer to this backfill mixture. Tamp the soil firmly down around the edges and mound up. Avoid covering the original soil level of the plant that was in the container. Add organic mulch as needed but not next to the leaves of the plant. Water lightly. Continue to observe the soil moisture each day, depending on the temperatures and soil drainage. The soil needs to remain moist but not soggy during the growing season and until they get established. Let them dry on the top a few inches between waterings.

  • Cleaning : As needed

    Prune any browning or damaged leaves down to the plant's base to promote new, healthy growth.

  • Propagation : Division

    Divide the New Zealand flax rhizomes into smaller sections. Plant into well-draining containers filled with potting mix. Place each bud facing upwards. Set them in a warm, sunny location and water consistently until they establish and have leaf shoots. Plant directly into the ground adding organic compost and root hormone to amend the soil. Plant at the same depth as the original plants. Water well and mulch to help establish the plant.