Blue Flax is a wildflower native to roughly ¾ of western North America that was first noted during the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803-1807. Prior to its ‘’discovery,’’ Blue Flax had been used for a long time by First Nations tribes for culinary purposes and for the fibre to make baskets and ropes, amongst other things. Linum Lewisii are in the same family as their domesticated cousins ‘’perrene,’’ but have never really been cultivated on a large scale commercially.
Linum Lewisii is an easy to grow perennial wildflower that will cover a sunny spot in your garden for years to come. The plants grow to about a foot tall at maturity and will self-seed abundantly. An ocean of small blue flowers, about ½ to 1 inch wide, will bloom for 8-12 weeks from mid-summer into fall. Blue Flax is adaptable to a wide array of types of soil and is heat and drought resistant, making it an undemanding, easy-to-care-for perennial.
Compared to its domesticated cousin ‘’perrene,’’ Blue Flax Lewisii will remain a little shorter and the flowers are of a lighter blue. Some people like to mix the two types together for more contrast and textures. Blue Flax Lewisii fibres can be used to make your own fabric and the seeds can be consumed in baked goods, like breads, muffins and cookies.
- Life Cycle: Perennial
- Days to Maturity: Second-year
- Planting Depth: 3-4 seeds 3-4 mm deep or broadcast directly
- Growth Habit: 30-45 cm tall
Flax is a fast-growing perennial that produces dainty blue blossoms and slender green leaves, maturing in its second season of growth. Some flowers may pop out during the first summer, but an explosion of the tiny blue blooms can be expected the following year. Dense, directly-sown plantings do well as meadows and wild-grown flowers left to naturalize. The short-lived flowers last about a day and then turn into seed pods containing small, dark flax seeds.
Flax is easy to start from seed when provided ideal conditions. Sow directly outside in the spring when the danger of frost has passed. Starting seeds indoors is not recommended, as flax will not transplant well into the garden. If you decide to try starting seeds inside, time it so they can be transplanted as young seedlings to avoid any major root disturbance.
Flax will adapt to most climates readily, but don’t do particularly well in hot, humid climates. To prepare the garden bed, remove any weeds, grass and rocks and loosen the soil 15 cm deep with a garden hoe or tined cultivator. Rake out the soil so that it’s smooth and level.
Seeds can be scattered densely and thinned later or planted in rows 10-15 cm apart. Rows can be spaced 30-45 cm apart. Sow the seeds and cover very lightly with fine soil or compost. They will need the sunlight to germinate. Mist the soil until it’s damp and keep it moist while seeds germinate and get established. Seeds should start sprouting in two to three weeks. Seedlings can be thinned to 15-30 cm apart.
Flax will thrive when provided with a well-sheltered, full-sun site. It prefers light, sandy, well-drained soil. If the soil condition is poor, work in some compost to feed flax through the season. Evenly moist soil is required for flax to get established, but otherwise will tolerate dry conditions well. Mulch could be used in especially hot areas to retain moisture and keep down weeds. Overall, flax will grow best in cool, wet conditions.
Be sure to remove any competing weeds while flax is getting established. The plant can be cut back by half after their first bloom in hopes of getting another set of flowers. Mature plants can reach up to 90 cm in height and 45 cm in width.
After the first year, the plants will have developed a hardy winter root system to prepare for the cold, returning stronger the following season. Flax will also self-seed and sprout up again in the same spot next spring.
The blossoms are durable and beautiful, and the by-products of flax are numerous.
- There are two types of flax seeds, brown and golden, and they are both used as a food and a fiber crop.
- Flax fibers are used in industry for paper for cigarettes, tea bags and bank notes.
- Flax has been used in the manufacturing of linens for thousands of years, dating back to Ancient Egypt.
- Linum seeds will remain viable for 2 years if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down.
OUR SEED GUARANTEE
You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.
Picked and bagged for 2023 the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.
We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.
We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!