Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Plant Guide

Phormium 'Wings of Gold'

Common Name
New Zealand Flax
CA Native
Plant Type
2' - 3' x 2' - 3'
Flower Color
Insignificant, Dull Red to Yellow
Bloom Time
  • Summer
Varigated Green with Creamy-Yellow Edge
Deer Resistant
Rarely Damaged
Wildlife Value
Growth Rate
Adverse Growth Factors
Special Features
  • Low Maintenance
  • Specimen
  • Unusual Shape
Water Use
  • Low
Soil pH
6.5-7.5 (neutral)
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
  • Shade
Soil Type
Not Particular
Good Drainage
Description and Cultural Plant Tips

This New Zealand Flax forms compact, upright clumps of strap-like varigated leaves. This varietal is smaller then other forms and can be used as a specimen or in containers. It also looks good in a perennial or shrub border and because of its size does not dominate the surrounding plants.

Plant slightly above soil grade in a sunny location in coastal areas of Marin. Does better with some afternoon shade in the hotter areas of Marin with some summer water. Needs protection from drying winds so do not plant on west facing hillsides. Remove old foliage before new growth occurs. Divide clumps every 2- 3 years if needed.

Mealy bugs can infest phormium. See UC IPM for treatment options. Crown rot can also be a problem in poorly drained soils.

Master Gardener Comments

I use these plants in containers since I have gophers & they love to eat the roots of these plants. I have 2 of them at the enterence to my garden walkway. I recommend buying the smaller varieties unless you have a huge garden. The large ones can really overpower a small garden setting.


P. 'Dusky Chief' - strong, upright growth to 4 foot with reddish bronze leaves

P. 'Flamingo' - Compact form up to 20 inches high with orange, green and yellow stripes

P. 'Thumbelina' -  Small 2 foot tall plant with narrow blades of dark reddish-brown

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