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Products > Phormium 'Dusky Chief'
Phormium 'Dusky Chief' - New Zealand Flax

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Phormiaceae (~Xanthorrhoeaceae)
Origin: New Zealand (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Height: 4-8 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Phormium 'Dusky Chief' (New Zealand Flax) - This New Zealand Flax cultivar grows upright to 6 feet to 8 feet tall with 1 1/2" wide light maroon red foliage that curves gracefully just near the leaf tips and has a waxy grayish color on the back side. The upright inflorescences rising above the foliage hold reddish flowers, showing its Phormium tenax parentage. Older foliage turns more bronze colored and should be removed annually for the plant to look its best. Plant in full sun to light shade. Can tolerate fairly dry conditions (coastal) but looks best with occasional to regular irrigation. Hardy to 15-20 F. Possibly root hardy below these temperatures but with severe foliage damage unless protected. A stable medium large red flax with narrower leaves than most it size - we have plants in the ground at the nursery for over ten years and it still has dark foliage and are not oversized for the planting but is certainly larger than we originally thought. Dusky Chief was described as early as 1969 in a New Zealand nursery catalog as being "dwarfish, black-purple, richly coloured" - we originally listed this plant as 3 to 4 feet tall but our garden plant planted in 1999 now (2013) measures just over 6 feet tall and a plant at UC Berkeley's Blake Garden in Kensington, CA has been measured at closer to 8 feet tall.  Information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it. We also will incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips would aid others in growing Phormium 'Dusky Chief'.