Linaria

Family: Scrophulariaceae
Common Name: Toadflax

This large genus of annuals and perennials, mostly from the northern hemisphere, are grown for their long-lasting, colourful flowers which resemble tiny snapdragons. Often used as bedding plants in parks and gardens, they generally have narrow, flax-like leaves. Some species have a long history of use in herbal medicine.

Species

L. dalmatica, zone 5, is a perennial, to 1 m (3 ft), with yellow flowers. Cultivar 'Canary Bird' has deeper yellow flowers.

L. maroccana, zone 6, an annual, is the species most often grown. It has slender growth, to 45 cm (18 in), and needs generous planting for effect. The same plant produces variously coloured flowers. Cultivar 'Excelsior', to 45 cm (18 in), with blue, orange, pink, purple or yellow flowers, looks very attractive in borders or massed plantings. 'Diadem' has bright violet flowers, marked with white. 'Fairy Bouquet' is a compact plant of about 20 cm (8 in), with larger flowers than the 'Excelsior' hybrids. 'Northern Lights' grows to 40 cm (16 in), with similar flower colours to 'Excelsior', as well as red and bronze.

The annual L. reticulata 'Aureopurpurea', zone 7, grows to 45 cm (18 in) and produces purple and yellow flowers.

L. vulgaris, common toadflax, zone 4, grows to 1 m (3 ft), with bright yellow flowers. This species tends to become invasive in warm areas.

Cultivation

These easy-care plants will grow in almost any soil, provided it is not compacted. If the soil is acid, add lime at the rate of about 225 g per square metre (8 oz per square yard) and a little complete plant food. Propagate from seed sown where the plants are to grow, barely covered with a fine layer of sieved soil or sand. Thin seedlings to about 50-75 mm (2-3 in) apart. Water generously in the early stages and apply a complete fertilizer monthly once the plants are well established. After flowering, cut back hard to obtain a second crop of blooms.

Climate

There are species suited to various climatic zones.

Click to view map of zones
Climate zone map
Limonium      Linospadix