The perennial flax should not be missing in any natural garden and enchants barren, sunny locations with a blue ocean of flowers. This is how you plant and care for.
Profile of perennial flax:
Scientific name: Linum perenne
Plant family: flax family (Linaceae)
Other names: blue flax, lint
Sowing time: spring
Planting time: spring
Flowering period: June to August
Soil quality: stony to sandy, calcipholous, humus rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: dry-stone walls, overgrowing, borders discounts, cottage garden, natural garden, prairie garden, rock garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 (-32 °C / -25 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of perennial flax
Plant order, origin and occurrence of perennial flax
The perennial flax (Linum perenne) is one of those delicate summer plants that you hardly see in nature anymore. It belongs to the flax family (Linaceae) and its original area of distribution stretched from Europe to Western Asia. In some countries, Linum perenne has become very rare in the meantime and, like the golden flax (Linum flavum), is strictly protected, because it is threatened by extinction. The perennial flax and especially the closely related annual common flax (Linum usitatissimum) are among the oldest cultivated plants, because coarse fibers are extracted from their stems for the production of linen cloth.
Characteristics of perennial flax
Linum perenne is a perennial that sprouts anew every year. It forms thin, up to 60 centimeter (24 in) high and strongly branched stems that look very gracile. Although it is not very long-lived, the perennial flax keeps itself in the garden by self-sowing.
The stems of perennial flax are densely leafed, the individual leaves are narrow and only a few millimeters wide.
From June the plant adorns itself with countless flowers in a beautiful sky blue. The five-fold petals appear very delicate and grow to 1.5 to 2 centimeters (0.6 to 0.8 in) long. The yellow stamens are located in the center of the open flower bowl. The flowers of the perennial flax are very popular with bees and insects as a source of food. Although the single flower does not last very long, it is continuously replaced by new flowers until August.
After self-pollination or pollination by insects, blue flax develops small, just a few millimeters long, egg-shaped to spherical capsule fruits. The brown seeds are located in their interior. These “linseeds” are used as a fiber rich baking and muesli ingredient as well as for the production of healthy linseed oil for use in the kitchen.
Perennial flax – cultivation and care
In nature, Linum perenne grows on dry, sunny, humus-rich sand and stone soils. Accordingly, it is suitable in the garden for gravel beds, dry lawns or steppe-like plantings.
Linum perenne prefers permeable, calcareous soils. It does not have any special demands on the nutrient content, only with wet and heavy soils the perennial flax does not cope well.
Young plants of perennial flax take root well in a sandy, permeable soil. Heavy soils must be improved by adding sand or gravel. A planting distance of 30 centimeters (12 in) is recommended. Older plants usually do not tolerate transplanting very well.
Linum perenne does not require any special care measures at a location that suits it. The perennial flax is a very undemanding plant that thrives even in absolutely poor soils such as sand. Therefore, the plant does not need much fertilizer and it is quite sufficient to add compost or another organic fertilizer such as horn shavings to the soil in spring. Watering is only be done on long persistent droughts.
Although its individual flowers are very short-lived, it does not need to be pruned, as new flowers are constantly being grown. In addition, one should let the fruit ripen so that the perennial flax can seed itself. By cutting back to the ground after the main flowering, the blue flax can be encouraged to flower a second time in late summer. Pruning for winter is only done when the plant has withered.
Division is not necessary with Linum perenne and is rarely successful because replanted older plants do not grow well.
Since perennial flax is reluctant to be transplanted, it is recommended to sow it in spring directly on the spot.
Diseases and pests
For the wild species of Linum perenne, pests and plant diseases are not an issue. Only on heavy, compacted and waterlogged soils does the perennial flax die off.
The perennial flax is frost hardy and perennial and can winter well in the open air. Frosts and also a long and hard winter do not bother it, but persistent wetness in the winter months can very well cause problems. The best remedy is to choose a suitable location with very well-drained soil. Further protection against too wet soil, which can cause the roots to rot, is provided by loosely piled up fir branches around the root space of the plant.
Even black frosts can affect the perennial flax. During long frosty periods without snow, it is therefore advisable to protect the plant with brushwood, mulch or a garden fleece. Again, care must be taken to avoid waterlogging and to ensure that the cover is airy and permeable.