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One of the most successful dwarf flax cultivars available today is Phormium 'Jack Sprat'. This petite perennial grows to 1 1/2 ft. tall with tightly clustered reddish-plum colored foliage. Both its size and color make it well suited to small landscape spaces, along borders and for year around color. It is also popular for use in mass plantings. Like other flax cultivars, it is best to avoid garden areas with hot sun exposures and to sustain it with regular water throughout the year. It is adaptable to many soil conditions.

Water Needs

The Jack Sprat dwarf flax is well suited to partial shade to sun and grows with moderate amounts of water throughout the year. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several winter months marked by an asterisk (*) when rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; higher amounts of water will result in stronger springtime growth and summer foliage character.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Moderate Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 4

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3"

Range of supplemental summer water: 17"-24"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-15"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Perennial
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Robust, Clumping, Arching
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 18 in.
Width: 18 in.
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Foliage Color: Burgundy, Red
Flower Color: Burgundy
Flower Season: Summer, Fall
Soil Adaptations: Loam, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Morning sun, Heat, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Raised planters, Parks and open space, Near pools and water features, Mass planting, Foundations, Foliage accent plant, Container plant, Civic spaces, Borders, Banks, Small spaces


New Zealand Flax is generally a lower maintenance plant in coastal areas but takes far more work to keep looking good inland. If growing, try to plant somewhere with afternoon shade or light overhead shade because leaves and leaf tips often burn in full direct sun in inland gardens during the summer. If this happens, significantly burnt leaves should be removed to the base and tip burnt leaves can be trimmed to clean up. When trimming strapped leaf plants including New Zealand Flax, make your cuts at a diagonal angle. This will keep a more natural look. Horizontal cuts across the leaf look funny (D,S). Remove dead leaves any time of the year as needed, and cut out spent flower stalks (5).



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