Phormium ‘Alison Blackman’

New Zealand flax


Phormium ‘Alison Blackman’ is one of the recent compact and highly coloured cultivars of New Zealand Flax.

It is perhaps more upright than many, reaching 1.5m or so, yet retains a graceful, arching habit. Leaves are coloured centrally in grey-green, irregularly margined with clear butter yellow with a picotee edging of red. In good light, occasional streaks of pinky-red appear brushed through the entire leaf. Not quite as ‘in your face’ as some cultivars, this is perhaps easier to accommodate in the mixed border where its bright multicolour appearance can be used to tone and contrast.


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Origin: originally New Zealand, variety of horticultural origin
Genus: Phormium
Species / Cultivar: x var. 'Alison Blackman'
Common Name: New Zealand flax

Plant Biography

Phormium are a genus of only two species: Phormium tenax which is native to New Zealand and Norfolk Island, and Phormium cookianum which is native only to New Zealand.

Known as New Zealand Flax, these plants have historically been used by the Māori people as a source of fibre for creating textiles, rope and sails.

More recently they have become ornamentally popular around the world, becoming beloved for their spectacular form, leading to the creation of many new cultivars in recent years.

Phormium 'Alison Blackman'
Soil: Well drained
Soil that does not show much signs of moisture, either visibly or when handled.
Growth Rate: Medium
Expect to see moderate growth during growing season.
Water Requirement: Medium
Once it is established, this plant is likely to only require watering during drier periods.
Maintenance: Low
Minimal skill or input needed beyond the basics, a very independent plant.
Situation: Full Sun to Part Shade
Enjoys direct sun most of the day, but tolerant of fewer sunlit hours or light dappling.
Eventual Height: 1.5m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 1.5m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Hardy
Survives unprotected in an average winter. May need protection in extreme long frosts.
Habit: Evergreen
Always in leaf throughout the year. It won't lose all its leaves at any one time.
Lifecycle: Perennial
This plant is persistant and does not die off after flowering. It will return each season indefinitely, if provided with suitable growing conditions.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Phormiums are undemanding plants that thrive in a sunny border with moist soil, or planted in a container. Once established they become drought tolerant.

Make sure to leave some space between the Phormium and surrounding plants as the Phormium’s large leaves can take over their space.

Phormium are generally hardy for normal winters but mulching around the base and using fleece jackets can help protect them during particularly cold spells.

Expert Tip

As with all Phormium, protection is recommended in colder parts of the country or in extreme freezes.

1 customer review for Phormium ‘Alison Blackman’

This is my second buy. Bought first one from this Palmcentre and successfully grown beautifully. I put it the at my patio, Very easy to maintain, gone through winter fine. Now Ive got two pots of this large one, they transformed my patio to look more attractive. Thank you also for a good service!