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 Plant Profile - Phormiums 
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Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010
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Post Plant Profile - Phormiums
Plant Profile - Phormiums

Phormium or New Zealand Flax have been very popular with landscapers and gardeners in recent times. They make a great focal point or accent in the garden. There are many cultivars and hybrids now readily available which come in a broad range of colour shades ranging from green through to red plus many coloured variegated varieties.

Generally Phormiums are used for their contrasting colour and their strap like architectural foliage which can make a bold statement in garden or landscape design. They are reasonably fast growing and quick to establish and will cope with a range of soils as long as they are free draining. There is a Phormium for almost every garden situation and it is not hard to find one with the correct height and foliage colour to fit into the context of your garden. However the use of Phormiums in general landscape over the last 12-24 months has noticeably declined.

Travelling around Australia talking to nurserymen, they have seen sales and demand drop away for the use of Phormiums in the landscape market and also for the retail market. The reasons behind this has been due to the plants not being able to cope with the severe hot and dry summers of Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and the heat and humidity of Sydney and Brisbane. In Melbourne last year the extreme heat and dry conditions throughout summer severely knocked back or killed many of the landscape Phormium plantings around Victoria including many of the variegated forms. In Sydney Phormiums do not respond well to the summer rain and humidity and this has caused many fatalities due to root rot or crown rot.

The new variegated varieties planted in mass landscapes are being used for colour and contrast effect and initially look very good when planted, but after 1 -2 years they tend to fall over, and die out in patches leaving ugly gaps, mainly due to the dry conditions or humidity. In Queensland Phormiums are not generally used due to their lack of humidity tolerance. Perth and Adelaide they are used sparingly in the landscape mainly when some added irrigation can be applied. Landscapers, Nurserymen and Gardeners have observed what has happened in particular with the weaker variegated Phormium types in general landscape conditions and are now tending to steer away from them.

I must say one of the strongest Phormiums i have come across is the common green Phormium tenax variety. This one has the large wide leaves and it does seem to tolerate humidity in NSW and the hot dry summers of Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth without too much fuss. The tips of the leaves do get burnt and dry throughout summer, but these can be cut back in autumn to rejuvenate the plant. It does seem that the green coloured types are stronger and more robust. A good performing coloured Phormium is ‘Flamin’, it has red, orange and bronze tones and it seems to survive the humidity in Sydney well but will still need summer irrigation to keep it going through the warmer months in the drier areas of Australia.

Lomandra and Dianella varieties are generally a safer choice for mass plantings, feature plantings and for landscape jobs that require minimal maintenance and little or no irrigation once established. Phormiums are great for adding colour contrast, texture and architectural shape to a landscape, just avoid using some of the weaker variegated types in larger plantings as they will often not cope with the tougher conditions and can let you down.

Watch this video on Flamin

Check out this Flamin Profile viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3664

Thu Aug 30, 2012
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