HOW TO GROW PHORMIUM COOKIANUM (Phormium Colensoi)

How to grow Phormium cookianum (Phormium Colensoi)

Commonly known as the New Zealand Mountain Flax, Phormium cookianum (correctly known as colensoi) is an evergreen plant found throughout New Zealand. Despite its common name its habitat is generally restricted to coastal slopes up to above the treeline, and among scrub or grasslands, although there are outcrops in mountainous areas of the South Island. It was first discovered but not described by William Colenso (1811 – 1899), a Cornish Botanist and Christian missionary to New Zealand. The species name 'cookianum' was changed to honour his discovery. It was introduced to English gardeners in 1848.

How to grow Phormium cookianum (Phormium Colensoi)
Under favourable conditions you can expect Phormium cookianum to grow to approximately 2 metres in height, the length of the sword-shaped leathery leaves. It differs from the more familiar Phormium tenax as the leaves are thinner, more green, lax and flexible. The blooms are produced on panicles (flower stems) up to 1 metre over the summer. These greenish, yellow or orange flowers are then followed by twisted seed pods un to 20 cm in length.

Grow Phormium cookianum in a fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun. It will however tolerate some shade.

In areas prone to frost some cold protection will be required. Provide a covering of horticultural fleece or at least a deep, dry mulch to help protect the shallow roots. Keep well watered during the summer months, especially in its first year of planting.

Phormium cookianum received the First Class Certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1868, and the Award of Garden Merit in 1984. The following selected forms have also received the Award of Garden Merit:

'Cream Delight'
'Tricolor'
Click onto the above image for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop
Main image credit - Avenue CC BY-SA 3.0

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW PHORMIUM COLENSOI 'CREAM DELIGHT'
HOW TO GROW PHORMIUM COLENSOI 'TRICOLOUR'
HOW TO GROW PHORMIUM COOKIANUM (Phormium Colensoi)
HOW TO GROW PHORMIUMS FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW PHORMIUM TENAX

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