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What’s Blooming in Paradise: New Zealand Blueberry Flax contain flowers all year round

By Staff | Sep 16, 2015

New Zealand Blueberry Flax and lantana. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

First impression: Green and cream colored stripes running vertical on grass shaped long leaves. My mind has a flashback to the 60s and recall spider plants that were in every groovy home. This looks like the morph version, minus the babies.Teeny weenie hints of blueberry colored petals dance in between the leaves on their super slender flower stalks. What a great low growing, clumping, ground cover! You can see this wonder from down under blooming at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: New Zealand Blueberry Flax is an herbaceous perennial monocot (whew!) closely related to daylilies. It is rarely grown for its flowers, but used for its variegated foliage and a spiky form that attracts us gardeners. Flax’s tiny flowers appear all year round and are not really showy, but do attract pollinators. The wispy flowers are held upright by a tall, stiff stalk above the foliage.

After blooming, blueberry shaped fruits appear, hence the nickname blueberry flax. Sometimes, the variegated flax will begin to revert to a solid green color with new growth. I trim off the unwanted green shoots at the base, as soon as I see them emerge. This is an easy fix, which will stop the variegated form from reverting back to a solid color.

You may plant in full sun or filtered shade, tolerates wet feet, drought and salt tolerant. It is a noninvasive exotic with little or no pests or diseases. Occasionally you will notice snails use the underside of the leaves, they can be easily picked off. If you are having an influx of snails in your garden, cut back on your irrigation. Snails need a moist/wet environment to be happy and will frequent those areas in your garden.

Our star is native to New Zealand, where the fiber was used long ago as fabric, clothing, fishing nets, and baskets. The roots were used for medicine and nectar was relished from the flowers. Native Maoris even used the pollen to make face powder.

Today, I love to utilize it as a variegated spiky ground cover that makes a tropical focal point in the garden or in containers. Imagine, never ending sword like leaves in colored stripes of cream and green for miles and miles. Well ok, maybe just a great ground cover and gosh darn it grows fast and easily in our gardens.

Pros:

Great ground cover

Does well in wet areas

Likes full sun

Can be divided and planted other places or share with neighbors

Noninvasive

May cue flashbacks of the 1960’s

Salt tolerance

Will fill in unsightly areas with little effort

Cons:

Needs to be separated periodically

Can get rust like spots/ trim away

Need to trim away spent blooms

May cue flashbacks of the 1960’s

Nonnative.

Conclusion: I really enjoy New Zealand Flax as a garden mainstay to add a big wow factor in a little space or a bunch of wows in a large space. You are welcome to say as many wow’s as you want in our tropical eye catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!

**Remember we have a yearly fertilizer restriction during July 1 through Oct. 2. This is a very important mandatory restriction to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into our precious waterways. Any fertilizing during our rainy season, only ends up in our water resources as unwanted algae blooms.**