Flax: Planting and Care Tips for Outdoor Cultivation

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Flax: Planting and Care Tips for Outdoor Cultivation
Flax: Planting and Care Tips for Outdoor Cultivation

Characteristics of the flax plant, advice on planting and care for garden cultivation, methods of reproduction, protection against probable pests and diseases, curious notes and applications, types.

Flax (Linum) belongs to the genus of plants that are part of the Linaceae family. Although the lands of India are considered to be its true homeland, today the areas where this representative of the flora is found in nature include Indochina and the Mediterranean. It is widely cultivated not only in European and Asian countries, but also in northern Africa and the North American region. Flax was brought to Russia from Asian countries. This genus includes about 200 different species, of which only forty can be cultivated in the middle climatic zone.

Family name Flax
Growing period Annual or perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Breeding method Seed and bush division
Landing time Spring or autumn, when heat indicators do not fall below 15 degrees
Landing rules Withstand up to 20 cm between seedlings
Priming Any light and loose, but not swampy, sandy loam or sandy soil
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 - neutral
Lighting degree Nice, open area
Humidity parameters Watering is carried out 1-2 times a week
Special care rules Drought tolerant
Height values Up to 1.5 m
Inflorescences or type of flowers False umbrella inflorescence
Flower color Blue with a grayish tint, occasionally snow-white, yellowish and reddish-pink
Flowering period June July
Decorative time Spring-summer
Application in landscape design In mixborders, rock gardens and rockeries, all kinds of flower beds, flower walls and picturesque borders
USDA zone 4 and more

The plant bears its scientific name due to the fact that mankind has long known about the properties of flax - for example, Linum in Latin and Lein in Gothic means "canvas". Already from these terms names in other languages originate. Even on the territory of Ancient Egypt, it was believed that this particular representative of the flora was the first plant that the gods created and passed on to people. Flax also symbolized fertility and motherhood, the patroness of which was the goddess Isis. But it was on Indian lands, according to researchers, that fabric based on linen fibers was first made almost 9,000 years ago. Other synonyms for flax are the terms curly and fiber, meek, northern silk or zeamet.

All flax varieties are subdivided into perennials and annuals with a herbaceous form of growth. They resemble small bushes, the stems of which do not exceed 30-50 cm, although in some species this value is close to 1.5 m. Despite the fact that the stems have refined outlines, they are very powerful. Their color is bluish-green. During the formation of inflorescences, branching of the stems occurs.

Flax leaves are whole, on the stems arranged in a regular spiral order. Occasionally they grow oppositely. At the same time, their sizes, gradually approaching the top of the stem, become smaller. The color is a rich green hue. The number of leaves in curl is small, their shape is narrowed.

The flowering of flax is quite gentle, but the size of the flowers can be both large and small (only 2 cm in diameter). Flowers are characterized by a strict five-dimensionality: five sufficiently developed stamens, opposite each of which a petal is formed (often underdeveloped). From this, the form of a petal takes the form of a clove or thread, but basically it has a wide-footed contour. The ovary is whole. Of these, an inflorescence is usually collected, which looks like a false umbrella. Sepals at the apex with a point are covered with small cilia. The color of the petals is pastel; this includes blue tint with a grayish tint. Occasionally they take on a snow-white or reddish-pink color. The anthers in the flower are the same bluish. Flowering occurs in June-July.

After pollination of flowers in flax, an almost spherical box with five nests ripens. Moreover, each of them is divided into two more parts, in which there is a single seed. The glossy, flattened seeds of the plant are oily. The people call such fruits flax heads, they can carry up to 10 seeds.

Growing such a plant is not difficult, and its flowering will delight the eye with the color of the summer sky. Seeds that are used both for medical purposes and in cosmetology are also useful. One has only not to violate the rules of agricultural technology during care and reproduction.

Planting and caring for flax outdoors

Flax grows
Flax grows
  1. Determination of the landing site. Since in nature the plant often settles in the steppe or meadow zone, it is recommended to select an open and well-lit area in your garden. It is important that such a flower bed is not obscured by the crowns of shrubs, trees or buildings. If there are few sunny days in your area, then perennial flax will be very difficult to cultivate. It is desirable that there be protection from gusts of cold wind.
  2. Soil for flax does not require a special composition, any substrate is suitable, with the exception of swampy. Linseed bushes are most comfortable on light and nutritious soil, while it is better that the groundwater passes farther. Perennial flax can be placed on slopes that do not differ in steepness. Before planting, the substrate is dug up, potash fertilizers and organic matter are introduced into it, and then it is carefully leveled. The acidity of the soil is preferable to be neutral - pH 6, 5–7. Sometimes direct liming is carried out, but it is important to remember that an excess of lime can cause bacteriosis. Often, the substrate is mixed with river sand. In this case, sandy loam and sandy soils are suitable.
  3. Planting flax in open ground is carried out only when the average air temperature is 15 degrees and above. Planting such a variety as perennial flax should not be started on a rainy and damp day due to the thermophilicity of the plant. The distance between seedlings or cuttings should be approximately 20 cm.
  4. Watering. To provide flax with normal conditions for development, it is recommended to water it well, but at the same time they try not to bring the soil to waterlogging. Stagnant moisture will lead to fungal diseases of the root system. In principle, flax planting is drought-resistant; when watering, one should rely on weather conditions. Usually, flax plantings are irrigated 1-2 times in 7 days, so that the soil under the bushes always remains in a slightly moist state. With the arrival of autumn and a decrease in air temperature for perennial flax, irrigation is gradually reduced, and when the temperature drops to 5 degrees, they stop altogether.
  5. General tips for flax care. It is important to monitor in a timely manner that the flax plantings are not too thickened. To do this, they are weeded, since the presence of weeds has a very negative effect on the state of the decorativeness of plants. If unripe seed pods are systematically removed, this will prolong the flowering time.
  6. Fertilizers should be used only when caring for perennial flax, and even then infrequently. Usually the soil is prepared before sowing seeds, adding organic matter and a little potassium dressing to it. During the growing season, you will need to feed at least two times. Complex mineral preparations are used (for example, Kemira-Universal), which are best purchased in liquid form. Fertilizers are recommended to be used only after the flax plantings have been watered.
  7. Seed collection flax is carried out when the seed pods turn brown. Also, when the linseed box is shaken, the characteristic sound of seed material is heard.
  8. The use of flax in landscape design. Since the flowering of such plants is gentle, they have long been loved by flower growers, especially the perennial variety. The ability to take root on poor soils is used to fill empty spaces with flax among stones in rockeries or alpine hills, such plantings look good in mixborders, all kinds of flower beds and flower walls. They can also be used for picturesque landscaping of curbs. It is recommended to plant near flax crops that have a love of bright sunlight and are able to withstand arid conditions. Perennial flax is very beautiful when forming a Moorish lawn. Chamomile and cornflowers, marigolds and clover will be good neighbors.

See also tips for planting toadflax, care and outdoor cultivation.

Flax propagation tips

Flax in the ground
Flax in the ground

The most successful are the seed and vegetative propagation of flax plants.

Flax seed propagation

With this generative method, you can sow seeds directly into open ground or cultivate seedlings indoors. In the first case, sowing is carried out both in spring and before winter, so that the seeds undergo natural stratification. In any case, the seed is spread evenly over the surface of the substrate without embedding. Then the seeds are sprayed from a fine atomizer. If you plan to grow a variety of perennial flax, then sowing its seeds can be performed in the summer.

When growing seedlings, it should be remembered that it is not recommended to replant flax seedlings after this, as they begin to hurt a lot and die. To solve this problem, young plants either continue to be grown in garden containers, or the seeds are initially placed in peat cups filled with peat-sandy soil. After the seeds have germinated, when a pair of real leaves unfold in the seedlings, they can be painlessly moved to the flower bed right in the cup, by placing them in the planting hole.

Moreover, after sowing, even in such peat containers, they are immediately taken out into the open air, so that the growing flax seedlings immediately get used to the temperature. Seeds are sown in spring, as soon as the soil is warmed up and the temperature will average 5–10 degrees Celsius. In autumn, this time may fall on early to mid-September.

Flax propagation by dividing the bush

In the case when a two-year or perennial flax is grown on the site, during growth it is always possible to divide the bush. This operation is carried out after the end of the flowering period or in April. The bush is cut with garden tools into several divisions so that each of them has a sufficient number of root processes and stems. The planting of flax parts to a new place of growth is carried out immediately, but up to 20 cm is left between them. Subsequent care of the cuttings will consist in regular and sufficient watering, as well as protection from direct sunlight.

Fight against possible pests and diseases in flax garden cultivation

Flax flower
Flax flower

Weeds are a big problem in the cultivation of flax, and there are three stages to control them.


Post-sowing treatment is carried out using herbicides, for example, Linurex 50 WP (1, 3–1, 5 kg of the preparation is used per 1 hectare) or Afalon 50 WP + (based on 1 hectare, 0.7 kg is needed).


At the stage of seed growth, it is recommended to use the following products:

  1. When flax sprouts reach 6–8 cm - Chwastox Extra 300SL, which is taken 1, 3–1, 7 liters per 1 ha, or Chwastox Super 450SL (0.75 liters is used per 1 ha).
  2. When seedlings reach 6–12 cm in height, you can use Basagran 480SL at a rate of 2, 5–2, 7 liters per hectare, or Basagran 600SL at a dosage of 1, 8–2, 2 liters per hectare.


When budding begins, you should apply Fusilade Super at a concentration of 1, 7–2 liters per hectare, or Super 5EC (2 liters are used for the same area).

When growing flax in the garden, you should also not forget about measures to combat pests and diseases. So, thrips, butterflies and flax fleas (they are also called flax jumpers) cause harm to flax plantings. For this, it is recommended to spray with insecticidal agents, for example, Karate 0.25 EC, of which no more than 0.3 liters is taken per hectare.

Since mainly when growing flax (such popular varieties as oilseed and fiber flax), then all problems can arise due to violations of the rules of agricultural technology, they recommend:

  1. Do not grow flax on one plot more than once every 6-7 years.
  2. Seed material must be disinfected with fungicides before being placed in the ground.
  3. Soil fertilization is carried out strictly according to the recommendations, since a large amount of nitrogen can lead to a decrease in resistance to diseases, a lack of potassium entails a decrease in the quality of flax fibers and contributes to the development of diseases.
  4. In order for flax plantations to resist diseases, the soil must have a sufficient amount of drugs such as boron and copper, zinc and manganese.
  5. It is better to use selected flax varieties that are disease resistant.

Read more about pest and disease control in lunar garden cultivation.

Curious notes about the flax plant and its uses

Flax blooms
Flax blooms

When flax growing flourished on the territory of Ancient Egypt, and this period dates back to the 4th century BC, Egyptian textile masters were famous for making the finest linen fabrics, the price of which in ancient times was comparable to gold. Until now, scientists have not figured out the secret of this technology for producing thin threads.

Linen yarns are characterized by perfectly round bast fibers and high strength. At their ends there is a strong sharpening, reaching a length of about 4 cm or more. In culture, it is customary to breed two varieties of flax, which are used to obtain seeds (flax curl) and for the spinning industry (flax fiber).

When flax seed is immersed in water, mucus that has no color appears on the surface of the seeds very soon. It is derived from skin cells that spread out when exposed to fluid. This mucus consists of bassorin, a mucous substance of plant origin. If we talk about such a valuable product as flaxseed oil, then it is contained in the cell tissue of the embryo and the refined nutritive cover surrounding it. The oil contains oily linolenic acid. It is because of this substance that it is so in demand in medicine and the technical industry.

Flax seeds contain up to 46% of vitamin F, which is fat-soluble and has an anti-cholesterol effect on the human body. This is due to the fact that it contains some unsaturated fatty acids, such as Omega-3, 6, 9. Flaxseed oil helps to remove cholesterol from blood vessels and strengthen their walls, helps to normalize blood pressure, pulse and improves blood circulation. It is prescribed for the following diseases:

  • diabetes;
  • atherosclerosis;
  • diseases of the cardiovascular system;
  • increased weight;
  • impaired metabolism;
  • hypertension;
  • bronchial asthma.

Also, taking flax seed oil, you can perform the prevention of cancer, immunodeficiency, rheumatoid manifestations and osteochondrosis. Doctors recommend the adoption of such an oil product to get rid of problems on the skin: dermatitis, eczema, allergic reactions, and also has a general anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

Flaxseed oil is also prescribed for its following properties:

  • laxatives and cleansing for the gastrointestinal tract;
  • removing cholesterol plaques from blood vessels;
  • the ability to envelop the mucous membranes;
  • regenerating and wound healing;
  • bactericidal and anti-inflammatory.

Flax types

The most popular among all the variety are the following varieties among florists:

In the photo, ordinary flax
In the photo, ordinary flax

Common flax (Linum usitatissimum)

can also occur under the name Sowing flax or Fiber flax. The plant has a nice shortened root that has the shape of a rod. It has a whitish hue, a small number of large primary branches and multiple thin root processes. Nowadays, it is cultivated in all areas with a temperate climate. Stem height varies from 60 to 150 cm. Grows erect, thin, cylindrical in section. It begins to branch only in the upper part, which is characterized by the presence of inflorescences. The color of the stem is pale green, there is a slight bloom of wax.

There are many leaves, but they are not too tightly arranged in a spiral order. The length of the leaf plate is 2–3 cm and the width is about 3–4 mm. Leaf shape is linear or linear-lanceolate. Lanceolate leaves are large in size, with a pointed tip, devoid of petioles. On their surface there is a bluish tint due to a wax coating, which can wear off over time. The edge of the foliage is smooth, three veins are visible on the surface.

During flowering, the buds form into a twisting loose inflorescence, which often turns into a curl with lanceolate bracts. Its shape has an intermediate outline between the umbrella and the brush. A small amount of flowers are formed. Their sizes vary from small to medium, reaching 1, 5–2, 4 cm in diameter. Pedicels of flowers are elongated, exceeding the calyx in length, there is a thickening at the tops.

The sepals are 5-6 mm long, their color is herbaceous, the shape is ovoid or from ovate-lanceolate to oblong-ovate. The petals are 12–15 mm long, their outlines are wedge-obovate, the apex is slightly rounded, but sometimes blunt. The surface can be smooth or slightly corrugated, the petals are whole-edged or slightly crenate.

The color of the petals is blue or blue, along the surface of the veins they are painted in a darker tone. Occasionally, there are flowers with a snow-white, pinkish or reddish-purple tint. The petals taper into a whitish, yellow-colored marigold at the base, they fly around early. The filaments of the stamens are linear, whitish, but at the top, their color is dark blue. Flowering occurs from early summer to July.

When fruiting, a capsule is formed, which reaches 6–8 cm in length with a diameter of about 5, 7–6, 8 mm. Its outlines are flattened-spherical or spherical-ovate. The calyx remains on the fruit, and there is a slight sharpening at the top. The color of the capsule is yellowish; when fully ripe, it does not crack. There are up to 10 seeds in a box, sometimes their number is smaller. The length of the seed varies in the range of 3, 3–5 mm, their shape is ovoid, the color is from light brown to dark brown. The surface is smooth and glossy.

In the photo Oilseed flax
In the photo Oilseed flax

Oil flax

is also part of this variety and it is possible to cultivate it even in rooms. Usually it is used precisely for obtaining seed material with increased nutritional value and healing properties. Such a plant does not grow more than 30 cm in height. When blooming, flowers of medium size open with yellow and bluish petals, but occasionally they take on a bright red tone.

In the photo large-flowered flax
In the photo large-flowered flax

Flax grandiflorum (Linum grandiflorum)

represented by an ornamental annual, whose native habitat falls on the lands of the North American continent. It grows in the form of a grass, erect and branched stems of which do not grow more than 1.1 m in height, but most often their parameters are in the range of 30-60 cm. sharpening. The length of the leaf is 1.5–2.5 cm, on the surface there are three main veins.

At the top of the shoots, a loose inflorescence of corymbose outlines is formed, the flowers in which reach 3 cm in diameter. The calyx has 5 free ovoid sepals, their length is 7 mm, the edge is serrated, the covering is ciliate. The corolla has a divisible structure, the petals are painted in various shades and the most prominent is a bright red tone, the shape of the petals is broadly ovate or almost rounded. There are also 5 stamens with a fused base, their length is 8 mm. There are also 5 pistils, they originate from a common base, their shape is threadlike. Flowering of this species begins in mid-spring and lasts until May.

The fruit after pollination of flowers is a dry small capsule, the diameter of which is 5–6 mm. Inside, there are a large number of flattened seeds. The color of the seeds is brown, the length is not more than 4 mm. Fruiting begins immediately after flowering and lasts until the end of summer. The species has been cultivated as a crop since 1820.

In the photo perennial flax
In the photo perennial flax

Perennial flax (Linum perenne)

It is clear from the specific name that the lifespan is extended over a long period. The growth form is herbaceous. The height of the stems is in the range of 30–40 cm, therefore it is recommended for rockeries and rock gardens. However, there are specimens reaching a height of 0.8 m. The flowers are characterized by sky-blue petals. Their diameter reaches 2-3 cm. Pedicels are straight, but short. The capsule fruit is filled with glossy seeds, which reach a length of 3, 5–4 mm.

Read also tips for choosing lobelia, planting and care rules

Video about growing flax in the open field:

Pictures of flax:

Flax Photo 1
Flax Photo 1
Flax Photo 2
Flax Photo 2
Flax Photo 3
Flax Photo 3
Flax Photo 4
Flax Photo 4
Flax Photo 5
Flax Photo 5

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