The Lovely Flax Flowers
Flax flowers are lovely plants of either blue, white or yellow. They are natives of the eastern Mediterranean region and India; probably being domesticated first in what is now known as the Fertile Crescent. Flax was cultivated extensively throughout the old world beginning in ancient Egypt for its fiber (spun into linen and lace) and seeds.
The binomial name for flax is Linum usitatissimum. The whole look of the flowers and foliage of this plant is delicate; the small graceful flowers beautiful. The white flowers of five petals are full and seem larger than the other two varieties. The golden flax has tiny almost transparent golden (yellow) flowers, while the tallest of the flax flowers has small, pure blue, feathery blooms. The flowers on each plant are innumerable throughout the season (May-September) as it blooms every other day.
Flax flowers are an erect, slender stemmed, annual plant with a general height of 12-18 inches. The leaves are a grayish/green to bluish/green color, slender and taper to a point at their tips. The fruit consists of a round, capsule type pods containing several brown seeds.
When the word flax is used it can refer to the plant or the fibers (unspun), and is grown for flowers, fibers or seeds. Particularly in times past the many parts of the flax have been used for dye, for making paper or fabric, for soaps and for medicine or medicinal purposes. Aside from cloth they have also been woven into fishing nets, rope or twine. It has been used here in the US since colonial times in the form of a food staple, clothing and as linseed oil.
Flax flowers are generally used as wildflowers-highly valued for their true blue beauty in the home garden. They require little care and are stunning in rock gardens and containers alike. After flowering they can be harvested for their seeds-for consumption or herbal teas, or for replanting the following year.
Grow flax flowers from seeds which have been directly planted into the garden, or started indoors for transplanting when the weather is agreeable. If you choose to sow seeds directly into the garden sow them early in the season and cover with a light dusting of soil. This is the only way you will have blooms that same year. Sowing in the fall is even a better guarantee. Ideally space plants 10-12" apart, but they do well if crowded.
Flax flowers prefer full sun and a rich soil; mix with compost when planting if you know your soil falls short. Also add an all purpose fertilizer at this time as well-then once each 4-6 weeks after to ensure their rich, lush look. Mulching around the plants also ensures the retention of soil moisture, as well as keeping the weeds at bay. These plants like a moist but not wet soil so keep the plants pruned to promote air circulation.
The flax flower is propagated by either seed or the division of the plants. They are susceptible to fungal diseases and blights as well as various rusts. Treat as needed-according to directions with a fungicide.