From the original two groups Phormium tenax and Phormium cookianum have come the new range of hybrids.
These vary in colour from a single colour (dark brown, red through to lime green) to multihued and variegated. Form varies from bolt upright to soft weeping type cultivars.
Breeding the new multicoloured Phormium cultivars is a lengthy process, which takes at least ten years to develop into commercial quantities. These new cultivars should not be confused with older Phormium types (tenax or cookianum seedlings). The long term breeding process is obviously reflected in the higher pricing of the new cultivars.
As well as the traditional garden and landscaping use of these stunning new cultivars, they are now developing as a superb cut foliage in the floral trade. New Zealand exporters are selling cut Phormium leaves to many contries around the world, including Japan, Asian destinations, North America and Europe.
Phormium leaves are now being used in floral arrangements in their own right.
The leading world hybridiser of these cultivars is Margaret Jones of New Zealand Flax Hybridisers, located in Tauranga.