How to Grow Lewis Flax


Lewis flax is also called blue flax and prairie flax. This flax has a pale blue flower on a thin stem, and was named after Meriwether Lewis, since it was first collected and named on his famed expedition with William Clark. It is widespread and native in the western and Midwest regions of the U.S., often found along roads and in fields. It is grown for its fibers, its lovely flowers and for some medicinal purposes. There's no need to re-seed Lewis flax after the first year; it will re-seed itself readily in the fall throughout most of the United States.

Step 1

Get Lewis flax seed. This may be obtained in the wild by collecting from the plants in the summer; the seeds are produced from the lower flowers on the plant. Seeds should be collected in July in most areas. For more reliable planting, you may want to order seeds from a native plant or wildflower nursery.

Step 2

Choose a spot to plant the Lewis flax. It prefers locations that get plenty of sun and have dry, sandy soils. Well-drained spots are best, such as on high ground. Lewis flax will tolerate slightly acidic soil.

Step 3

Scatter the seed in late fall or very early spring when you have a heavy or medium soil. If planting individual seeds, they should be no more than 1/4 inch into the soil, and are best planted at a depth of 1/8 inch. On medium to light soils, seed the flax in late fall.

Step 4

Lewis flax needs a medium amount of water; while it is drought-tolerant, in very dry climates it should be watered regularly. In wetter climates, it may not need watering other than rainfall.

Step 5

Mulching will help Lewis flax grow once it is at the seedling stage. Mulch with a thin layer of bark or other dry mulches to help keep down competing grasses and weeds in the late spring. Flowers will begin to appear in mid- or late May, and stay through July.

Tips and Warnings

  • When picked, the flowers of Lewis flax die almost immediately, so they don't make good indoor bouquets. The seeds of Lewis flax can be edible but must be cooked before eating, as they contain cyanide, which is destroyed by cooking. Lewis flax may flower its first year but won't produce a full flowering until its second summer.

Things You'll Need

  • Lewis flax seed
  • Sandy soil
  • Sunny spot
  • Dry mulch


  • Utah State University Extension
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture plant guide

Who Can Help

  • Lewis flax profile
  • Utah State University Extension Native Plants
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Lewis flax plant guide
Keywords: how to plant Lewis flax, growing Lewis flax, how to grow Lewis flax

About this Author

Kim Hoyum is a Michigan-based freelance writer. She has been a proofreader, writer, reporter and editor at monthly, weekly and daily publications for five years. She has a Bachelor of Science in writing and minor in journalism from Northern Michigan University.