How to Grow and Care for Flax Lily

Low-Maintenance Perennial for Shade

Flax lily plant with tiny purple flower panicles on thin stalk

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Flax lily is not a true lily (Liliaceae family). It is a perennial flower in the Asphodelaceae family, which makes it a relative of the famous asphodel flower of the Mediterranean region. The plant likes shade, is not bothered by deer, and requires little maintenance, making it an ideal perennial for people "on the go" who want to come home to a colorful garden. Flax lily is fast-growing and reaches maturity within 90 days or so. The flowers bloom in panicles on stalks that jut up over the foliage. The individual blooms are small (1/2 inch to 3/4 inch across) but numerous enough to put on a show. They are usually blue (with striking yellow stamens) but occasionally white. The flowers are succeeded by shiny, blue berries.

Botanical Names Dianella tasmanica
Common Names Flax lily, Tasman flax lily
Family Asphodelaceae
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size 1.5 to 2 ft. tall and 2.5 to 3 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Partial, Full
Soil Type Sandy, loamy, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Blue, white
Hardiness Zones 9, 10, 11
Native Areas Australia, Asia

Flax Lily Care

Flax lily is that it is a tender plant, suited to zones 9 to 11. It can be grown as a houseplant in lower zones or planted as an annual outdoors. Within its hardiness zones, this perennial is easy to grow because it tolerates deer and drought. Flax lily spreads via underground rhizomes, but it does so only over a long period. If you can't wait that long, you can propagate by dividing its clumps, instead. Flax lily is susceptible to diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew.

Flax lily plant stalk with purple and green panicle buds closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Flax lily plant on thin stalk with purple panicle buds surrounded by foliage

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Flax lily plant stalk with tiny purple panicles on end closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova


Grow flax lily in full shade if you live in a region with very hot, dry summers and in partial shade if you landscape in an area with milder summers.


The main requirement for the soil of flax lily is that it should be well-draining. Though it prefers sandy or loamy soil, it is hardy enough to handle even poor soil with ease.


Flax lily tolerates drought well once it is mature. Until then, keep it in well-drained soil and water it a few times each week. If the plant begins to droop or brown, cut back on the water.

Temperature and Humidity

Flax lily needs higher temperatures, up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, to truly thrive. As a houseplant, the flax lily can handle temperatures of down to 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but don't be surprised if it remains a foliage plant and doesn't produce many blooms at lower temps. High humidity will also help these plants thrive. Keep in mind that these temperatures are ideal for growth; however, the plant is winter hardy enough to come back, year after year, even when winter temperatures dip to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.


Feed flax lily in spring before the appearance of new growth with the same kind of fertilizer (suited to acid-loving plants) that you would use for azaleas.

Types of Flax Lily

Variety in the world of flax lilies comes mainly in the form of cultivars with variegated foliage:

  • 'Variegata' has green leaves with white margins.
  • 'Silver Streak,' likewise, sports white leaf edges.
  • 'Yellow Stripe' is more interesting. On its foliage, light green, dark green, white, and yellow bands alternate.


Flax lily needs pruning only about once every five years to help ensure it continues to bloom and present lovely foliage. Prune the lilies back to the crown during the fall, when the foliage has begun to brown a bit.

Propagating Flax Lily

Flax lily spreads in a clumping habit through rhizomes. Propagation by division is the easiest way to spread this plant around your garden. During the fall, gently dig up the flax lily. Take care to separate the rhizomes into clumps, dividing the plant cleanly with your fingers or a sharp knife. Since the plant is already acclimated to the area, you can plant the divisions immediately and water them well.

How to Grow Flax Lily From Seed

Flax lily grows through spreading rhizomes, so division is the best way to grow this plant.

Potting and Repotting Flax Lily

Flax lily does very well in containers. When initially potting flax lily, choose a pot that has excellent drainage. Terracotta works well, as it pulls water into the material as well as offers good drainage. Good potting soil is plenty for flax lily to thrive, as long as it remains well-drained. Too much water will lead to rotting of the plant.

Repot the lily when the rhizomes fill up the pot and the plant begins to show signs of struggle, such as browned or stunted leaves. Flax lily divides well, so you can simply divide them into similarly sized pots as the initial one, eventually leading to a plethora of houseplants for beautifying your home or giving away to lucky friends and family.


Flax lily doesn't need much in the way of help for overwintering when grown in zones 9, 10, or 11. Expect the foliage to die back in winter and spring back when the temperatures warm up. Flax lily grown in containers are easy to overwinter, as you simply bring them indoors and let them enjoy the warmth of the home during the colder months.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Flax lily is susceptible to diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew, but you can lower the chances of such infestations through generous spacing, by avoiding overhead watering, and by watering in the morning (so that the soil has a chance to dry before night falls).

  • What plants are similar to flax lily?

    Flax lily has rigid, blade-shaped leaves, rather like Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa). Acanthus and begonia make excellent companion plants.

  • Where should I place flax lily in my house?

    Flax lily loves dappled shade, so place it in an indoor area where it will receive indirect light.

  • Does flax lily provide flaxseed?

    Flaxseed comes from the flax plant, known as common flax or linseed. It is a flowering plant with the scientistic name Linum usitatissimum, in the family Linaceae. The flax lily is a different plant that provides lovely foliage and occasional flowers.