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Phormium tenax - 'Purpureum' (Flax Lily)

Type Herbaceous flower, Grass, Evergreen
Form Spiky Foliage / Spiky Upright Form, Architectural Form
Size Large Border / Screening Plant (1.8 to 3m height)
Colours Purple Foliage
Care Some Maintenance Required - Tough Plant
Hardiness Frost hardy, Seaside Friendly
Growth Fast Growing Plant
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Phormium tenax Description

This large Phormium is a great structural plant, with long purple sword like foliage contrasting well with mixed plantings. Looks good beside water or mixed with shrubs and herbaceous planting, but not ideal for containers given its large size. This large plant needs space reaching up to 3m tall by 2m once fully mature, when it can become leggy.


Phormium tenax - Cultivation Notes

This is by far the toughest of the Phormiums, but ideally all Phormiums should be planted in full sun in a moist but well drained soil, but this variety will grow in poorer soils and also in more exposed locations. Phormiums are greedy plants which grow quickly if they are well fed but they do not like being exposed to strong winds, being ideally suited to more sheltered sunny locations.


Strengths, Weaknesses & Design Usage


Strengths of Phormium tenax:

  • All round tough plant suitable for problem areas
  • Ideal for fast growing screening
  • Provides valuable winter interest
  • Evergreen foliage for all year round colour and screening
  • Architectural plant – ideal as a ‘stand out’ plant
  • Suitable for exposed coastal planting
  • Attractive form or foliage for all year interest
  • Tolerates full sun and sandy, drought-prone soils
  • Tolerates heavy clay soils

Weaknesses of Phormium tenax

  • Invasive top growth
  • Does not produce showy attractive flowers

Design & Plant Use for Phormium tenax:

  • Fast growing evergreen plant ideal for screening
  • Evergreen plant with attractive foliage for winter interest
  • Plant for extreme coastal screening
  • Architectural plant with dramatic foliage suitable for hot dry spot
  • Ornamental grass ideal for drift planting in a sunny spot

View all the plants listed in Genus Phormium

View other types of grasses with purple foliage


Common Missspellings: Formium, Phormeum, Formeum, Phormiam, Phormuim