The plant’s botanical genus, Linum, is an easy one to file away in the memory banks: Think linen, think Linum. The species which brings us linen, oil and smoothie fodder is not one of the species we tend to use in the garden, but if you grow garden varieties, you’d definitely recognize it in a lineup.
American Meadows sells seeds of both annual and perennial species of flax in scarlet and blue, but plants can also be found in shades of white, yellow and pink. Growing methods are similar for both, but first, you’ll need to decide which one works best for your garden, meadow or other sunny space.
Annual or Perennial?
Scarlet flax (L. grandiflorum var. rubrum) is an annual species growing 15-30” tall that holds bright red saucer-shaped flowers above gray-green wispy foliage in late spring through summer. The silky blooms are small (1-2”), but there are many of them. And, if you are living in a cooler climate, you can cut the plant back by half its height after it blooms and benefit from a re-bloom soon after.
Succession planting every two weeks can also extend your bloom season, but as summer heat intensifies, flax will tend to flag.
American Meadows also sells a perennial species of blue flax native to the United States and discovered during the Lewis and Clark expedition (L. lewisii). Blue flax is an upright perennial plant very able to hold its own in a meadow planting, but is still characteristically delicate, and does well when allowed to float through other complimentary plants. The one-inch flowers are almost translucent blue, resemble geranium flowers, and have light lines radiating from the center.