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What is Dianella?

By Deneatra Harmon
Updated May 16, 2024
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The dianella plant, also called the flax lily and other names, is an evergreen perennial native to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. These flowering plants contain an estimated 25 to 30 species within the Hemerocallidaceae family, with some varieties branching off to the Phormiaceae family. Dianella is related to plants such as the daylily in the Hemerocallidaceae family, while the Phormiaceae family commonly includes plants with long, leathery leaves. The dianella is best identified by its long, sword-shaped, green, and white leaves. During the spring and summer season, dianellas bloom blue or violet flowers along with blue berries.

These flowers are often categorized into different varieties, including Dianella variegata, Dianella caerulea and Dianella ensifolia, to name a few. These types of landscaping plants have similarities such as grass-like features that make them compatible for planting as borders. The flowers of dianella may also add ornamental qualities to any lawn.

Some differences exist between the types of flax lilies, including size, shape, bloom time, and color. Originally from southeast Australia and Tasmania, Dianella variegata features strap-like leaves that come in green with white or yellow stripes. Its foliage, which can grow up to 2 feet tall (about 0.6 m), survives temperatures ranging from 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.9 degrees Celsius) to warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius). The violet flowers of Dianella variegata appear by the spring season, followed by a crop of deep blue, oval-shaped berries during the summer. Both the blooms and the berries die off in the winter.

Dianella caerulea, by contrast, produces blue-green, strap-like leaves that grow in clumps. Like the variegated version of the flax lily, this blue flax lily usually blooms lilac flowers and berries that disappear during the winter season. Also hailing from Australia, this flax lily's foliage grows up to 3 feet high (about 0.9 m).

Another type, Dianella ensifolia, appears with bluish-green, sword-like leaves that are similar to the other flax lilies. The plant towers over the variegated and caerulea flowering plants because it grows up to 6 feet tall (about 1.8 m) and somewhat resembles bamboo. Lavender flowers and round, blue berries dominate the plant during the summer months. Winter temperatures do not affect the flax lily's leaves and stems, as they withstand temperatures ranging from 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-9.4 to -6.6 degrees Celsius).

Regardless of variety, these flowering plants of the Hemerocallidaceae and Phormiaceae families thrive best in partial shade and sunlight while the weather remains cold during planting time. Fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous helps to ensure healthy flowering plants. Flax lilies only need light to medium watering every other day for nourishment. In addition to being called the blue flax lily or the variegated flax lily, dianella is also known as the Tasmanian flax lily, the Paroo lily, the Umbrella Dracaena, and the New Zealand lily.

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