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Help with germinating Phormium Tenax - NZ Flax

Josh DJosh D Posts: 2


Ever since I studied in New Zealand 15 years ago, I have been fascinated with New Zealand flax, Phormium Tenax.  I have always wished I could bring it back and have a plant or two in my yard at home to remind me of the memories I had there.

I once tried to plant it without knowing anything about cold stratification, and of course, nothing happened.  Well, I recently purchased some fresh seeds, and armed with a little more knowledge, placed them in my freezer, soaking in paper towels saturated in water with a very light hydrogen peroxide mixed in (to prevent damping off...don't know if this was necessary in the cold stratification stage, but I did it in case).

I recently received as a gift one of those Miracle Grow home gardening machines, which have decent LEDs and the capacity to circulate nutrient-rich water to the pods in them.  Before the flax seeds, I also received another Kiwi seed I liked - the African Lily, Agapanthus, so I decided to experiment and see if the seeds would grow in the machine.  I placed them in a plastic bag, also on a paper towel drenched in water lightly mixed with hydrogen peroxide (1.5 teaspoons to 1 cup of 3% hydrogen per.), and left the gardening machines lights on for 18 hours/day.  In roughly a week, I noticed little sprouts coming out of the seeds.

Question: after the cold stratification, can I do the same procedure with Phormium Tenax and expect them to germinate?  (I don't know how similar it is to the Agapanthus or if there are any unique precautions I should heed.  I understand they can be a little trickier).  And, once those little tails emerge from the seeds, how long should I leave them in the bag to grow before transferring them to potting soil (both of the varieties of plant I have - assuming I can use the same procedure for the flax, of course)? Can anyone help me with recommendations for tips on what to do?  If the flax gets as far as the Agapanthus, I really don't want to screw it up and accidentally kill them somehow.

I am very much looking forward to hopefully being able to one day plant a beautiful flax plant in my yard.  I live in Seattle, which is USDA zone 8b, and the flax are rated to 8, so I know I'm right on the line of what it can tolerate, but I did see a live plant at the Seattle Zoo, so I know they can survive here.  I just think I have to take every precaution in the early stages.

Thank you so much for any advice.


Seattle, WA, USA

Last edited: 10 April 2017 23:23:25


  • Josh DJosh D Posts: 2

    Oops, a couple details there, one being a correction:

    I put the Phormium seeds in the fridge, not the freezer, and as you may have guessed, didn't use the pods built into the Miracle Grow machine, but rather just placed the plastic bag on the surface of the machine to use the lights.

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