Blue Flax

Perennial Flax (Linum perenne)
Flax plants are commonly recognized by their clear blue flowers that are familiar to travelers passing fields that seem to reflect the sky. Historically the annual version of flax has provided seeds for linseed oil and stem fibers for linen fabric. Perennial flax, however, has only an ornamental function. It is effective in residential landscapes as part of a perennial flowerbed or rock garden. Although it is not a long-lived plant--3 to 5 years is a typical lifespan--it often sows its own seeds in the garden. It is also somewhat drought resistant.

Height and Spread - Perennial flax grows from 18 to 24 inches tall on airy, arching stems. The ends of these thin, flexible stems branch into flowering stems that spread 9 to 12 inches.

Flowers - The clear blue flowers that appear in late spring are the hallmarks of perennial flax. Clusters of buds typically droop at the branching ends of the slim stems. They open to inch wide, 5 petalled flowers. Buds bloom successively over the weeks, opening in the early mornings just before dawn. Unless the day is overcast, the fully open flowers drop their petals by midday. A new round of bloom follows each day through to mid-summer. Because these plants produce a profusion of buds, there are always plenty of flowers during its bloom season.

Foliage - Perennial flax leaves grow alternately along the upper part of the delicate stems. Narrow, smooth edged, pointed and bluish-green, they are about 1 inch long. The leaves have no stalks, growing instead directly from the stem.

Better Varieties
`Album' has white flowers;
`Alpinum' is 2 to 12 inches tall;
`lewsii' is a western version, 2 to 3 feet tall;
`Nanum Saphire' is 10 to 11 inches tall.

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