Blue Flax, Linum Narbonense

Ilona Erwin

Blue Flax is a piece of summer sky fallen into the garden, shimmering blue flowers reflecting clear unclouded heavens. Opening during the sunny days and dropping its petals by afternoon, only seems to add to its charm;
Genus Linum narbonense. Linum narbonense is native to the foothills and mountains of northern Spain

I’ve grown both Linum narbonense and Linum perenne, and although they are almost identical in the garden, the L. narbonense seemed the better. To me, it appeared bluer and fuller than the L. perenne.

Thompson & Morgan directions for Linum seeds:
SOWING TIME: Indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost or outdoors in early spring as soon as soil is workable
SOWING: Sow in trays, pots, etc of good seed sowing mix in a propagator or warm place to maintain an optimum temperature of 70-75F (20-25C). Surface sow using peat/sand mix seed sowing mix. Germination usually takes 14-30 days.

How Blue Flax Looks

Clear blue flowers in classic five petaled form, held atop the upright reaching stems whorled with small, narrow gray-green leaves. The buds are nodding teardrops that open up into the most gorgeous pool of blue. an entirely graceful plant until it looks a little ragged with hot weather. Seed heads are beige little balls.

The overall look is very dainty.

  • Blooms early to mid-summer
  • Each stem terminates in a cyme of about 10 flowers [1]
  • 1 to 2 and a half feet tall
  • About 1 foot wide
Blue Flower

Linum narbonense

How to Grow

Easy to grow from seed, although usually purchased as small transplants. Will reseed on cultivated ground, not so much if you have established plantings where the ground is not disturbed. The plants do not live long. A mulch for winter is recommended, but I found that diminished its ability to reseed itself.

  • Zones 5-9
  • Full sun
  • Less moist, not too fertile soil is best
  • Drought-tolerant,but not drought loving! L. narbonense likes more moisture
  • Foliage stays persistently green
  • Linum perenne grows from a taproot

In the Garden

Ideas for planting blue flax in the garden.
One of my favorite garden pictures was the late spring combination of blue flax, Elegant Lady lily flowered tulips, and ‘Blue Ideal’ Dutch iris (Iris x hollandica), with drifts of Alyssum saxatile ‘Citrinum’ below. It is a color scheme of true blues, soft yellow, and touched with pink and cream on the petals of the tulips.

Try them with gray leaved foliage plants, which often like the same growing conditions. Artemisias, like Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Nana’ or Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Silver King’ with white poppies. Try it with white or cream yellow potentillas, with similar shaped flowers, or Dianthus plumarius (or a triad of the three).

 Linum perenne

Bird\’s eye view of Linum perenne

A view of L. narbonense in a garden.

Fun Facts

They are butterfly food plants.
Foliage contains a cyanide-related compound, but deer will still eat them

Look for cultivar ‘Heavenly Blue’ with brighter blue flowers.

Related plants:
There is a native type of blue flax: Linum lewisii. It is listed as an Illinois Wildflower.
Linum Grandiflorum ‘Blue Dress’ available from Thompson and Morgan Seeds.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.