Scarlet flax is a showy annual that provides bright red flowers with virtually no care. Each flower lasts a few hours and is followed daily by a procession of new ones. Originally from North Africa, it has become naturalized in parts of the United States.
Description of scarlet flax: Scarlet flax grows to 21/2 feet tall on slender, branched stems with narrow leaves. The round flowers, up to 11/2 inches in diameter, have 5 broad petals. The primary color is shades of red.
Growing scarlet flax: Grow scarlet flax in full sun in any garden soil, preferably somewhat low in fertility. They perform best in cooler climates. Plants will tolerate mild frosts; in colder climates they can be planted in the fall for late spring bloom. Otherwise, sow in place as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Space 4 to 6 inches apart. Water during dry spells. Each plant blooms approximately 4 to 6 weeks. For all season display, reseed at 4- to 6-week intervals.
Propagating scarlet flax: Start new plants from seeds. For earliest bloom in most locations, start seeds indoors 6 weeks prior to outdoor planting. Grow in peat pots to aid in transplanting. Seed germination takes 5 to 12 days at 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses for scarlet flax: Scarlet flax is a good addition to wildflower or meadow gardens. Grow it in clumps in borders or beds and in mixed plantings such as cottage gardens. Plant it also in rock gardens.
Scarlet flax related species: Linum usitatissimum has sky-blue flowers that are breathtaking when planted in masses. Height is up to 3 feet. Linum bienne is another blue-flowered species that can be grown in the garden.
Scarlet flax related varieties: Linum grandiflorum rubrum is a deep red flowered form. Bright Eye is ivory white with chocolate-brown eyes. Blue Dress is sky blue. Magic Circles is a mix of reds and white with red eyes. Salmon Charmer is salmon pink.
Scientific name of scarlet flax: Linum grandiflorum