Variegated flax lily is an evergreen perennial native to New Zealand but can be grown as a houseplant in many other locations worldwide. The green leaves of this plant are variegated with pink or white stripes, giving the plant its common name.
This hardy plant grows slowly but steadily throughout the year and produces clusters of small flowers in late summer through early fall. An easy-to-grow addition to your garden, the variegated flax lily (also known as Daniella tasmanica) blooms mid-summer and can be used in floral arrangements.
If you’re looking for an easy plant with a nice scent that can grow in low light, the variegated flax lily is your new best friend. Here’s all you need to know about growing and caring for it.
What is a Variegated Flax Lily?
The variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica variegata) is a small and attractive flowering plant. It is a low-maintenance plant with beautiful, silvery-green foliage striped white and pink. This plant has a clumping habit and can grow up to two feet tall and wide, making them a great addition to gardens of all sizes. In the spring and summer, variegated flax lily produces clusters of small, lavender flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Variegated flax lily is hardy in USDA zones 8-10, grows best in full sun to partial shade, and will thrive in well-drained soil rich with organic material and pH levels of between 6 and 7.5. It is a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t require much care. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and should be watered deeply but infrequently.
Most importantly, this plant should be watered less frequently during the winter than in the growing season, as it is prone to rot if overwatered. Pruning may be necessary to maintain its shape, but prune only when the plant is dormant.
Where to Plant Variegated Flax Lily
When planting variegated flax lily, choosing the right spot is always crucial. This hardy plant can grow in full sun or part shade and is an excellent choice for container gardening, making it easy to move indoors during the winter months if you live in a colder climate. For the best results, select a location with ample indirect sunlight throughout the day.
Variegated flax lily needs well-draining soil and regular watering but should not be left in soggy, wet soil as this can cause root rot. Add perlite, sand, or vermiculite to your soil mix to ensure drainage. It’s also important to choose a spot with plenty of room for the variegated flax lily to spread out, as this plant can reach up to two feet in height and width. Finally, keep the plant from harsh winds or cold drafts, which can damage the foliage.
Benefits of Planting Variegated Flax Lily
Variegated flax lily can be used in a variety of ways, and some of the benefits of planting it are as follows:
- Excellent choice for gardens, borders, containers, and mass plantings
- Well-suited for rock gardens, hanging baskets, and for naturalizing areas.
- Drought tolerant and does not require much maintenance.
- Its foliage adds texture to flower beds, and its small purple flowers bring color to any landscape.
- It can be used as a ground cover to control erosion and suppress weeds.
- The variegated foliage adds interest to mixed containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets.
Growing Variegated Flax Lily
Propagating variegated flax lily is relatively easy and can be done using seeds and division. If you choose to propagate from seeds, you should sow them in the spring or early summer in well-drained soil. However, if you want to propagate through division, you should wait until the plant is dormant in late fall or winter.
Propagating Variegated Flax Lily From Seeds
- Collect fully ripe berries in late October and gently remove the seeds by immersing the fruit in warm water.
- Sow the seeds in seed-sowing trays in springtime (after the threat of frost has passed) and maintain them in full sun positions. It would be best if you planted the seeds approximately 1/4 inch deep.
- Apply a thin layer of compost over the seeds.
- Keep the soil wet by maintaining an optimal temperature range of 18-20 degrees Celsius.
- Water the area regularly and keep it consistently moist until the seedlings emerge. Once the seedlings appear, you can transplant them into larger containers.
- Under optimal circumstances, seeds germinate in 2 to 16 weeks. You may need to perform thinning to provide more room for healthy seedlings.
Propagating Variegated Flax Lily Through Division
- Dig up the entire clump and then carefully divide it into smaller pieces, including at least one bud on each piece. Remove the weeds and wash away the old dirt.
- Remove the damaged and weakened roots, as well as the yellow leaves.
- Use a shovel to carefully separate the rhizome into clumps, ensuring each plant has enough roots and leaves to sprout into a new plant.
- Replant each piece in a prepared bed or container, keeping the bud at the same depth as before. Also, add compost to the soil to improve the nutrition and growth of the plants.
- Water the newly planted divisions and keep the area moist until new growth appears.
Caring for Variegated Flax Lily
1. Soil Conditions
Variegated flax lily is a versatile plant that can thrive in various soil conditions, making it a great choice for novice gardeners and experienced green thumbs alike. But to ensure your plant grows and blooms to its fullest potential, it’s important to understand its ideal soil conditions.
When it comes to soil type, the variegated flax lily prefers well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH balance. It’s best to avoid soils that are either too compact or too loose, as this can cause problems with root health and growth. For optimal growth, try to use soil that contains a mix of organic matter, such as compost, peat moss, and leaf mold.
When watering your variegated flax lily, make sure to do so early in the day, so the leaves have time to dry before evening. Also, be sure to water around the base of the plant and not directly on the leaves to avoid fungal diseases.
Additionally, check for proper drainage to avoid root rot if you’re growing your plant in a container. Keeping your plant watered will help ensure it stays healthy and blooms for years. Ensure adequate drainage, as the variegated flax lily doesn’t tolerate sitting in water for extended periods.
Finally, ensure your variegated flax lily is getting plenty of sunlight for it to thrive. Aim for at least four hours of direct sun daily to encourage proper growth and flowering.
When it comes to fertilizing your flax lily, a little goes a long way. Too much fertilizer can damage the plant and diminish its beautiful variegated foliage. It’s best to use a slow-release balanced fertilizer with low nitrogen content, and this will ensure that the plant is getting all the nutrients it needs without overloading it.
The best time to fertilize your variegated flax lily is in spring and early summer when the plant is actively growing. You can also fertilize during fall and winter if you want, although it is not necessary. When fertilizing, sprinkle the fertilizer around the base of the plant, avoiding contact with the leaves.
Pruning your variegated flax lily once every five years is required to keep it blooming and producing attractive leaves. It would be best if you also trimmed the flax lilies down to the crown in the autumn, especially when the leaves begin turning brown.
Common Problems of Variegated Flax Lily
While variegated flax lily is resilient, it is still prone to some pests and diseases. It can attract various pests, including aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips. These can cause yellowing or browning of the leaves and discoloration of the stems.
To prevent infestations, inspect your plants regularly and remove any visible pests with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can also spray your plants with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Common diseases affecting variegated flax lily include powdery mildew, leaf spot, and rust.
These diseases can cause wilting and discoloration of the leaves and stunted growth. To prevent these diseases, ensure adequate airflow around your plants and water at the soil level to keep the leaves dry. If you notice any signs of disease, remove the affected parts of the plant and treat it with a fungicide as needed.
Variegated flax lilies are great for adding a unique look to your garden. These flowers work well as accents or can be planted in groups near ferns, sedges, and other tall grasses to create an even more eye-catching look. They also possess pollination capabilities as they attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.