FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Phlox subulata is a mat forming perennial wildflower with evergreen needle-like leaves. In spring foliage is covered by masses of starry violet, pinkish or white flowers. Creeping phlox is a fine groundcover for sunny gardens with moist well drained soil.

HABITAT & HARDINESS: Phlox subulata occurs in the eastern United States from Maine to Minnesota and south from Georgia and Louisiana.

This species is indigenous to rocky and sandy barrens, savannas, rocky ledges, slopes, clearings and disturbed sites.

Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 3-9.

PLANT DESCRIPTION: Phlox subulata is a diminutive groundcover that forms moss-like mats of evergreen foliage. The trailing stems are green when young turning tan and finally woody and knotty with age.

Leaves are awl shaped with smooth edges and pointed tips. Blades are needlelike and less than 1” long. They are opposite or clustered on the stems and are prickly to the touch.

Fertile stems terminate in showy flower clusters. The individual flowers are blue-violet, rosy-lavender, reddish or occasionally white.

Each flower has 5 petals with notched tips that flare from a narrow tube. The petals have dark markings toward the center.

Blooming begins in early or mid-spring and continues until early summer. Small inconspicuous oval seed capsules follow.

Flowering stems rise to 6” and plants spread to 2’.

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Phlox subulata flourishes in sun or part sun with average or dry well drained soil. Plants tolerate sandy or rocky soil, drought, neutral to slightly alkaline pH and poor infertile soil.

Plants are fairly pest resistant but may have issues with spider mites in hot dry sites. Foliage is somewhat resistant to deer but may be nibbled by rabbits.

Old stems become woody and tend to lose foliage and die out if they are not sheared after flowering to promote new growth. Intrusive growth of taller companions or weeds can overwhelm this sun-loving phlox and lead to decline.

In colder zones, plants are less likely to be burned by winter winds if they are protected by snow cover or an evergreen windbreak.

LANDSCAPE USES: This Groundcover produces colorful spring carpets of flowers in Perennial Borders or Rock Gardens. The species is particularly lovely if allowed to drape over a low retaining wall. Plants are used as Butterfly Nectar Plants, for Erosion Control or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Phlox subulata has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes and Low Maintenance Plantings.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Phlox subulata with Amsonia hubrichtii, Coreopsis major, Echinacea purpurea, Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ or Sporobolus heterolepis.

The cultivars, ‘Emerald Blue’ and ‘Emerald Pink’ have similar appearance and culture and could be substituted in some situations.

TRIVIA: Phlox subulata provides valuable early season nectar for swallowtail butterflies, day flying sphinx moths (like hummingbird moths and clearwing moths) and hummingbirds.

Due to similar growth habit and blooming time, Phlox subulata and Phlox stolonifera are sometimes confused. P. subulata has needle like foliage, flowers with dark markings toward the center, notched petals and a preference for sunny dry rocky habitats. P. stolonifera has oblong leaves, flowers without dark markings, rounded petals and a preference for moist woodland habitats.

Phlox subulata Drummond’s Pink

Phlox (tall and groundcover types)
Phlox are generally sun-loving native plants that attract butterflies. Many phlox varieties are wonderfully fragrant.

Phlox can be divided into two groups;

  • Phlox paniculata (Tall garden phlox)
  • Groundcover types (Phlox nana, P. kelseyi, P. subulata and others)
  • Phlox paniculata (Tall Garden Phlox) – tall, showy perennials blooming in mid-summer with fragrant flowers.
    • Preferred growing conditions:

    • Grows best in compost enriched garden loam. Avoid heavy, wet soils and clay.
    • Likes to be mulched to keep soil more evenly moist. Most common mulching materials are fine.
    • Likes to grow in soil that stays evenly moist.
    • Plant in full sun
    • Enrich the soil at planting time with good quality compost and Yum Yum Mix.
      • Special comments:

      • Phlox can sometimes be troubled by powdery mildew, but planting mildew-resistant varieties, keeping the soil evenly moist and not watering overhead in the afternoon/evening will prevent most outbreaks.
      • Deadhead to prolong blooming.
      • These perennials appreciate yearly fall applications of Yum Yum Mix and compost to improve the humus content and enhance water-holding capacity of the soil.
        • 2. Phlox nana, P. kelseyi, P. subulata and others (Groundcover Phlox)
          These perennial species are low growing and are used as groundcovers. Some are evergreen and most have fragrant flowers. Preferred growing conditions:

        • These species grow in a wide range of soil types including clay.
        • Most of these groundcover varieties prefer coarse-textured mulches like pine needles, crushed nut shells and crushed gravel.
        • Many of the groundcover phlox are xeric and only need periodic deep watering during summer heat.
        • Plant in hot, full sun areas.
        • They only need modest soil improvement, so use a few handfuls of Yum Yum Mix and good quality compost to prepare the soil for planting.
          • Special comments:

          • These are low-care perennials that need little attention once established.
            • Garden care:

            • Cut back herbaceous species like Phlox nana in mid-spring. Evergreen types like P. subulata and P. kelseyi need no trimming or cutting back.
            • Fertilize once in the fall with Yum Yum Mix and Planters II.

    Phlox Species, Creeping Phlox, Moss Phlox

    View this plant in a garden



    Water Requirements:

    Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

    Sun Exposure:

    Full Sun



    Foliage Color:

    Unknown – Tell us


    under 6 in. (15 cm)


    18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


    USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 °C (-40 °F)

    USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 °C (-35 °F)

    USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)

    USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

    USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

    USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

    USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

    USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

    USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

    USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

    USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

    USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

    Where to Grow:

    Unknown – Tell us


    Unknown – Tell us

    Bloom Color:

    Magenta (pink-purple)

    Fuchsia (red-purple)


    White/Near White

    Bloom Characteristics:

    Unknown – Tell us

    Bloom Size:

    Unknown – Tell us

    Bloom Time:

    Mid Spring

    Other details:

    Unknown – Tell us

    Soil pH requirements:

    6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

    6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

    7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

    Patent Information:


    Propagation Methods:

    From herbaceous stem cuttings

    By simple layering

    By stooling or mound layering

    Seed Collecting:

    Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

    Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

    Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

    Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


    This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

    Mobile, Alabama

    Oakhurst, California

    San Leandro, California

    Parker, Colorado

    Old Lyme, Connecticut

    Ellendale, Delaware

    Bradenton, Florida

    Deltona, Florida

    Keystone Heights, Florida

    Pensacola, Florida

    Braselton, Georgia

    Clarkesville, Georgia

    Decatur, Georgia

    Norcross, Georgia

    Stone Mountain, Georgia

    Tyrone, Georgia

    Quincy, Illinois

    Washington, Illinois

    Bloomington, Indiana

    Fishers, Indiana

    Sioux Center, Iowa

    Barbourville, Kentucky

    Covington, Louisiana

    Franklin, Louisiana

    Milton, Massachusetts

    Eastpointe, Michigan

    Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Royal Oak, Michigan

    Minneapolis, Minnesota(2 reports)

    Marietta, Mississippi

    Mathiston, Mississippi

    Cape Girardeau, Missouri

    Monett, Missouri

    Piedmont, Missouri

    Franklin, New Hampshire

    Manchester, New Hampshire

    Frenchtown, New Jersey

    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Los Alamos, New Mexico

    Ballston Lake, New York

    Binghamton, New York

    Brooklyn, New York

    East Islip, New York

    Wellsville, New York

    Charlotte, North Carolina

    Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

    Raleigh, North Carolina

    Rowland, North Carolina

    Minot, North Dakota

    Akron, Ohio

    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Cleveland, Ohio

    Columbus, Ohio

    Glouster, Ohio

    North Ridgeville, Ohio

    Garber, Oklahoma

    Hulbert, Oklahoma

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    Red Rock, Ontario

    Altamont, Oregon

    Ashland, Oregon

    Baker City, Oregon

    Klamath Falls, Oregon(2 reports)

    Pine Grove, Oregon

    Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania

    Hershey, Pennsylvania

    Watsontown, Pennsylvania

    Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

    Hope Valley, Rhode Island

    Rock Hill, South Carolina

    Greeneville, Tennessee

    Hendersonville, Tennessee

    Boerne, Texas

    Dallas, Texas

    Fort Worth, Texas

    Katy, Texas

    Mc Kinney, Texas

    Palestine, Texas

    Plano, Texas(2 reports)

    San Antonio, Texas

    South Jordan, Utah

    Broadway, Virginia

    Prince George, Virginia

    Springfield, Virginia

    Bothell, Washington

    Seattle, Washington

    Spokane, Washington

    Parkersburg, West Virginia

    Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

    Riverton, Wyoming

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