Growing Phormium

Latin Name Pronunciation: form'-ee-um

A genus of only two species, well adapted to the extremes of the native New Zealand climate, from torrential rains, violent winds, seasonal drought, to sweltering sun. How the plants manage this is a marvel of engineering—fibers running through the leaves make them strong yet flexible; a tough coating on the leaves helps them conserve moisture and shed water. Use in containers in cold areas, or as a hardy perennial in Zones 8–10. The striking foliage provides color all season long.

Plant in moist but well-drained soil. Plants will form large clumps over time and make attractive additions to containers, beds, or borders. Divide older plants in spring, as needed. In colder areas, pot up plants before the first hard frost and bring indoors to overwinter in an east or north window in a cool room. Keep on the dry side (but not so dry that foliage withers) and withhold fertilizer in winter.