Material uses

A very high quality pliable fibre is obtained from the leaves[4][5][6][7][1]. It is used in the manufacture of ropes (they are not very strong[8]), twine, fine cloth etc. The fibre can also be used for making paper[9] The leaves are harvested in summer, they are scraped to remove the outer skin and are then soaked in water for 2 hours prior to cooking. The fibres are cooked for 24 hours with lye and then beaten in a ball mill for 4 hours. They make a cream paper[9].

The split leaves can be used to make nets, cloaks, sandals, straps etc[1]. They are also used in making paper and basket making[1][10]. A strip of a leaf is an excellent emergency string substitute for tying up plants in the garden, it can be tied into a knot without breaking[7]. The leaf pulp, after the fibre has been removed, can be fermented to make alcohol[1]. A gum found in the leaves is used as a paper glue[2]. A brown dye is obtained from the flowers[11], it does not require a mordant[10]. A terra-cotta dye is obtained from the seedpods[11]. A mauve can also be obtained[11].

 

Propagation

The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in February in a cold frame. Germination is sometimes poor but should take place in 1 - 6 months at 15°c. The seedlings are very variable. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed remains viable for about 12 months in normal storage[12]. Division in spring as growth commences. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

 

Cultivation

Prefers a rich loamy soil[12] but is not too fussy, succeeding in peaty soils and in boggy moorland[4]. Tolerates light shade[12] but prefers full sun[13]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[14]. Prefers a sheltered position[15] but tolerates maritime exposure[16]. Plants tolerate occasional flooding with saline water[13].

Plants can withstand temperatures down to about -11°c[15], but they can be killed in very severe winters in Britain[4]. A polymorphic species[17], there are many named varieties grown in Britain[4][13]. This species hybridizes readily with P. colensoi and there are many named forms that may be hybrids with that species[4]. This plant has been considered for commercial cultivation for its fibre, though there is some difficulty in mechanically extracting the fibres due to the presence of a gum in the leaves. An alkali has been successfully used to break down the gum but this weakens the fibre. The Maoris had selected many different cultivars for different uses[1].

Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[14].

Propagation

The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in February in a cold frame. Germination is sometimes poor but should take place in 1 - 6 months at 15°c. The seedlings are very variable. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed remains viable for about 12 months in normal storage[12]. Division in spring as growth commences. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Phormium tenax. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.

 

 

Cultivation

Prefers a rich loamy soil[12] but is not too fussy, succeeding in peaty soils and in boggy moorland[4]. Tolerates light shade[12] but prefers full sun[13]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[14]. Prefers a sheltered position[15] but tolerates maritime exposure[16]. Plants tolerate occasional flooding with saline water[13].

Plants can withstand temperatures down to about -11°c[15], but they can be killed in very severe winters in Britain[4]. A polymorphic species[17], there are many named varieties grown in Britain[4][13]. This species hybridizes readily with P. colensoi and there are many named forms that may be hybrids with that species[4]. This plant has been considered for commercial cultivation for its fibre, though there is some difficulty in mechanically extracting the fibres due to the presence of a gum in the leaves. An alkali has been successfully used to break down the gum but this weakens the fibre. The Maoris had selected many different cultivars for different uses[1].

Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[14].

Additional information for New Zealand Flax

 Related

Winter plant propagation by division

June 30, 2020
Clone or duplicate plants by dividing. May also be useful to reinvigorate or restart aging plants.
The exact process will differ for each species but generally involves digging up part or all of the plant, carefully separating or cutting rooted sections before removing most of the leaf surface area and replanting in new locations. Post care includes watering and weeding as required.
  June   July   August