Hi,* I live in the San Francisco Bay Area inland.* I purchased three New Zealand* (The Gaurdsman) and planted them in my front yard.* The soil is sandy with full sun.* The flax were doing well but all of a sudden they have fallen flat to the ground.* I only water them once a week as the nursery told me.* The bottom of the stem feels a little soft.* I thought they have fallen flat because it has been so windy, but as I looked closer they just didn't look right.* The coloring hasn't really changed.* I haven't really noticed any new growth, but I could be wrong about that.* The stem at the base has a light brown, soggy look to them and feels kind of soft.* What do you recommend that I do?* Do you need*a picture?* Oh, I have purple fountain grass and Pink Guara planted with them and they are doing great.* I don't know what the problem is.* The tempature has been hot here.* In the 90's to 100's.
Your New Zealand flax 'Guardsman' is known botanically as Phormium tenax 'Guardsman'.
Phormiums do get fungal infections such as root rot and basal stem rot.* It comes from a pathogen in the soil.* You don't say how long ago you planted them, but if it's recent I would suggest you take them back to the place of purchase for a refund or replacement.* I don't suggest you plant others in the same spot unless you also replace that soil or your new plants will be at risk as well.* From this site:
"Summaries (En, It)
Abstract*** Root and basal rot caused by soil-borne Phytophthora spp., on a flowering plant, Limonium sinensis, and on two foliage crops, Phormium tenax and Viburnum tinus, are reported. On Limonium, the infected plants quickly collapse and show a root and basal rotting. On Phormium, symptoms are a quick collapse of the entire plant, a putrefactive rotting of the roots and an alteration of the base with internal tissues showing a brown-reddish colour."
OMG!* Is there a way to prevent this?* Can't I spray it with anything or is that it?* I purchased them about 1 month ago.* I don't htink the nursery has a return policy.* I should just buy from now on at Home depot.* lol* Do you think this will spread to the other plants in the garden?
Most all reputable nurseries offer a one year guarantee on their plants.* Since only your flax has this problem I'm certain it came with the plants.* From what I'm reading the fungal pathogen Phytophthora doesn't exist in soils high in organic matter.* I would suggest you take them back to place of purchase along with a copy of all this info and demand your money back or replacements.* Then amend your planting bed where they are to be planted with lots of compost.* Remove all the potting soil from your new plants and plant them in the compost amended soil.
There are fungicides you can use, but they won't save the plants you have now.
"4. Will a Fungicide Eradicate Existing Disease Symptoms?
The answer is no. Symptoms already present will remain until the plant or plant part dies or is removed."*
I couldn't find much about these fungicides except they are supposed to work for fungal diseases of Phormium and you should wear skin and eye protection when using as you don't want them to splash on you.* You will need to use these as a soil drench of you don't go the organic route.
I'm not sure, but another posibility, could be the root rot if you have mulch to close to the plant.* My Dianthus suffered because of this, now that I moved away the mulch and swtiched to some rock...no problems at all.
Another problem I had one year...I thought it was root rot, but when I lifted the foliage near the bottom there were ants.
If you have mulch move it away from the bottom of the plants and see if it helps, check for bugs while your down there!;)