What is Flax and how do you care for it?

New Zealand flax describes the common New Zealand perennial plants Phormium tenax and Phormium colensoi, known by the Māori names harakeke and wharariki respectively. Although given the common name ‘flax’ they are quite distinct from the Northern Hemisphere plant known as flax (Linum usitatissimum)

Although the Māori have always made textiles from a number of other plants, including tī kōuka, tōī, pingao, kiekie, toetoe and the paper mulberry, the use of harakeke and wharariki was and still remains the most widely used material.

Below is short video guide on how to harvest & clean NZ Flax – Harakeke (Phormium) aimed at the home gardener and beginner flax weaver alike. There may be other tikanga (rules) in your area and it is always good to ask permission if harvesting from a public place (such as a park).

Please note that depending on your own region other “rules” may apply – we’re located in the Bay of Islands in the far north of New Zealand so we have quite a mild winter and hot summers.

This video gives a general overview in response to the many people who have been asking us to post it. If you have any particular questions about your flax plants please feel free to drop us a line via our contact page.