Plant of the Month for Lafayette CO area landscapes-November 2021

Wild Blue Flax

Lafayette, CO area landscapes {Plant of the Month Series}

Wild Blue Flax or Linum lewisii is a truly xeric Colorado native, standing 18” tall with lanky stems that rarely stand upright (see picture). It is named after Meriweather Lewis who forged the Lewis and Clark Trail in the northwest United States. Its native range is essentially the western two thirds of the US.

Plant of the Month for Lafayette CO area landscapes-November 2021 Pale blue small nickel sized flowers adorn the plant from late spring through summer and sometimes right up to frost. The plant is more leafy when young, losing some of its leaves as it matures, leaving the flower at the end of the plant. It is cold tolerant, and can withstand the first few frosts in fall in our Lafayette Colorado landscapes. It likes full sun to very partial shade, thrives on low moisture conditions, and is a great addition to rock gardens where the soil is rocky and unimproved. If better soil is provided, a more robust plant will emerge, however, being native to the west, it will survive almost any dry conditions. It provides habitat for beneficial insects, attracts butterflies and smaller bees, and mobilizes phosphorus in the soil and thus brings nutrients back to the topsoil.

The seeds of this plant were gathered by Native Americans and cooked for their flavor and nutritious qualities. It is a source of flax fiber, flax seed and linseed oil. Plant a flat of flax and watch them gently sow themselves into your perennial garden.

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