Friday, 18 August 2017

Try growing: Settler's Flax (Gymnostachys anceps)


I wrote about Settler's Flax (Gymnostachys anceps) a few weeks ago, as one of many shade-tolerant plants that grow well in Illawarra gardens. It's such an attractive and versatile species, and so underused, that I thought I'd give it a post of its own. 

Settler's Flax is a fantastic local native plant! It's one of very few local natives that are tall and strap-leaved, decorative and structural. It's the closest local equivalent to those tough succulent or palm-like plants that are so popular in low-maintenance gardens, such as Dracaenas or Yuccas. But it's all ours...and deserves to be used far more widely!

Here's Settler's Flax growing naturally at the Mount
Keira Scout Camp, among rocks and ferns. The strappy
leaves are very distinctive.
The long strappy leaves contrast well here with
the carpet of fallen leaves and the foliage of
the nearby ferns. 
(Photo: Kath Gadd)
Another shot showing the plant's
structural qualities 

(Photo: Kath Gadd)
Settlers' Flax prefers shady conditions, so can be grown on shaded verandahs and porches, and in gardens underneath canopy trees. It can also be used as an indoor plant, and can tolerate extremely low light levels with no direct sunlight and limited indirect light. Very few plants can cope in those conditions. 

The one challenge is finding Settler's Flax in local nurseries. It is gradually becoming more widely available, but you might need to call around to locate it. With Wollongong Botanic Garden's GreenPlan sale on today (Friday), you might be able to pick up a few plants there! You've got until 2.30 this afternoon...
The striking blue fruit are a great feature of Settlers'
Flax, and also attract birds. 
(Photo: Peter Richardson)

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