Phlox paniculata

Phonetic Spelling FLOKS pan-ik-yoo-LAY-tah Description

Summer Phlox is an erect herbaceous perennial that may grow 2 to 4 feet tall and is clump-forming and puberulent. The leaves are alternate with a smooth margin. Purplish pink, sometimes variable colored, flowers first mature in mid-summer and continue into mid-fall.

Phlox paniculata, commonly known as garden phlox, is native from New York to Iowa south to Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas. It has escaped gardens and naturalized into areas beyond its original native range. Tall phlox is one of the best-loved garden flowers.

Garden phlox is a staple of the perennial border. Mixes well with other perennials and provides long summer bloom. Regardless of flower color, garden phlox is attractive to hummingbirds and is a good selection for inclusion in a bird garden.

Garden phlox grow in moderately fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. It does its best in full sun. It prefers rich, moist, organic soils. It also prefers moderate summer temperatures over the heat and humidity of the deep South. It blooms in the summer through early fall and requires a high level of maintenance, requiring regular mildew-preventative spraying although some cultivars are resistant. It requires abundant fertilizer and water in summer for optimal flowering. This plant prefers sun to partial shade and moist, fertile, and well-drained soils. This plant needs good air circulation (space well and thin out stems as needed) to help combat potential powdery mildew problems. Intolerant of drought and needs to be watered in dry spells. Avoid overhead watering, however. It appreciates a summer mulch which helps keep the root zone cool. For winter, cut plants to the ground and remove from the garden plus clean up all plant areas in order to minimize possible powdery mildew infection for the following growing season. Remove faded flower panicles to prolong the bloom period and to prevent unwanted self-seeding (cultivars generally do not come true from seed). This plant has numerous pest and disease problems.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Phlox is not always an easy plant to grow well. Phlox bugs, powdery mildew, and root rot can be serious problems. Spider mites can also be a problem, particularly in hot, dry conditions. Taller stems may need staking.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Erect herb with numerous, opposite, narrow leaves
  • Inflorescence much-branched, many-flowered
  • Flowers salverform, anthocyanin pigmented

Cultivars / Varieties:

  • ‘Delta Snow’
    White flowers with a soft pink center
  • ‘Lord Clayton’
    Bright magenta-red flowers

Tags: #bees#purple#fragrant#hummingbirds#white#pink#sun#partial shade#summer#blue#perennial#herbs#wildlife plant#wildflowers#showy#fall interest#cpp#low flammability#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#fire resistant#borders#native wildflower#fantz#butterfly friendly

Garden Phlox Plants: Tips For Growing And Care Of Garden Phlox

Nothing beats the appeal of garden phlox plants. These tall, eye-catching perennials are ideal for sunny borders. In addition, the large clusters of pink, purple, lavender or white flowers bloom for several weeks in summer, and make excellent cut flowers. Growing hardy garden phlox is simple and so is its general care.

Info on Garden Phlox

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), also called summer phlox, is a sun-loving perennial with a long flowering season. Large clusters of flowers, called panicles, sit atop stems that grow 3 to 4 feet tall. This native American wildflower thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 8.

Growing hardy garden phlox is a challenge in hot, humid areas because the plant is sensitive to powdery mildew. Watch for foliage that looks as though it has been dusted with talcum powder, and pinch off the affected leaves. In severe cases, treat the plants with fungicide. You may be able to avoid powdery mildew by choosing varieties labeled as “mildew resistant.”

Care of Garden Phlox

Set out new garden phlox plants in early spring. Choose a sunny location with moist but well-draining soil. Work some compost into the soil before planting if your soil doesn’t manage water well.

Give the plants plenty of room, especially in hot, humid areas where air circulation around the plant will help keep powdery mildew to a minimum. Use the recommended spacing on the plant tag, which is usually 18 to 24 inches.

Fertilize with a shovelful of compost for each plant or a light application of 10-10-10 fertilizer at planting time and again just before the flowers open. If you fertilize once more after the flowers fade, you may get another flush of flowers.

Water garden phlox plants weekly for the first few weeks and often enough to keep the soil lightly moist thereafter. Keep the foliage as dry as possible by applying the water to the soil rather than the foliage. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the plants to help the soil hold moisture.

Care of garden phlox also includes the clipping of flower stems after the flowers fade. This keeps the plants looking tidy, and also prevents the flowers from dropping seeds. Since garden phlox plants are generally hybrids, the seedlings that result from dropped seeds won’t resemble the parent plants.

How to Grow Tall Garden Phlox

Many people wonder how to grow tall garden phlox. To get the maximum height from tall garden phlox, clip the weakest stems from the plant when they are about 6 inches tall, leaving only five or six stems on the plant. Pinch out the tips of the remaining stems to encourage a tall, bushy growth habit.

Phlox to grow

Flowering over a long period, phlox are hardy, easy to grow and many don’t require staking. They come in a range of heights suitable for many garden situations, and bear masses of – often fragrant – blooms from mid-late summer. Their flowers come in a variety of colours, including shades of blue, purple, pink, red and white. Largely pest-free and disease-resistant, they make the perfect, low-maintenance border plants.

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Most phlox cultivars are perennial. Cultivars of alpine phlox, such as Phlox subulata, thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Those from woodland habitats, such as Phlox divaricata, need partial shade and hummus-rich soil. Those native to boggy areas, such as Phlox paniculata, require full sun and moist soil.

Discover seven great varieties of phlox, below.

Their flowers come in a variety of colours including shades of blue, purple, pink, red and white.

Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Eye Flame’

Phlox paniculata ‘Purple Eye Flame’

Phlox paniculata is the most commonly grown garden phlox and the one we usually associate with the genus. In the wild, Phlox paniculata can grow to nearly 2m, and typically bears pink flowers. Years of breeding have resulted in shorter, more garden-worthy cultivars that flower in a variety of different colours. As well as being fragrant and long-flowering, most cultivars attract a variety of bees and other pollinating insects.

Phlox ‘Purple Eye Flame’ grows to a height of 40cm and has fragrant purple flowers with a white ‘eye’. It’s well suited to growing towards the front of a mixed, herbaceous border among daisies and echinaceas, or even in containers.

H x S: 40cm x 40cm

Phlox paniculata ‘Pina Colada’

Phlox paniculata ‘Pina Colada’

Another perennial border phlox, ‘Pina Colada’ is a short-growing phlox, bearing large domed heads of pure white flowers. It’s perfect for growing in a night garden, where you can sit and enjoy its intense fragrance on summer evenings.

H x S: 75cm x 50cm

Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’

Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’

‘Blue Paradise’ is a gorgeous border phlox, bearing fragrant, violet flowers with a faint paler patch and dark eye. Reaching heights of 120cm, it’s perfect for growing at the back of the border, where it works well with blooms of a similar colour.

H x S: 120cm x 45cm

Phlox divaricata ‘Chattahoochee’

Phlox divaricata subsp laphamii ‘Chattahoochee’

This woodland phlox bears compact, spreading carpets of lilac-blue flowers in June, over fresh green, hairy leaves. It’s ideal for growing in large clumps at the edge of a border or beneath deciduous trees. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

H x S: 35cm x 50cm

Phlox drummondii ‘Moody Blues’

Phlox drummondii ‘Moody Blues’

Annual phlox is widely grown as a summer bedding plant, where its spreading habit makes it perfect for filling gaps at the front of a border, or as part of a summer container display. Phlox drummondii ‘Moody Blues’ has a compact, bushy habit and bears flowers in a variety of shades of blue.

H x S: 25cm x 30cm

Phlox bifida ‘Ralph Haywood’

Phlox bifida ‘Ralph Haywood’

Sand phlox, Phlox bifida, is native to the Midwestern United States, and is found in dry or sandy areas, including rocky outcrops and limestone glades. A mound-forming evergreen sub-shrub, it forms clumps o needle-like leaves and bears masses of flowers in spring. It’s much more tolerant of dry soil than other species of phlox.

Phlox bifida ‘Ralph Haywood’ bears large blue flowers in late spring. It’s ideal for growing in a rock garden or container.

H x S: 30cm x 25cm

Phlox subulata ‘McDaniels Cushion’

Phlox subulata ‘McDaniels Cushion’

Moss phlox, Phlox subulata, is a spreading evergreen perennial growing to a height of just 15 cm. It bears small flowers in shades of pink, purple and white, from spring to early summer. Phlox ‘McDaniels Cushion’ forms a low, spreading carpet of slender, mid-green leaves, and bears masses of pretty pink or purple flowers in summer.

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H x S: 15cm x 50cm

Perennial Phlox for Home Landscapes

Selecting perennials for the home garden can be a bit intimidating as there are hundreds of plant species and innumerable cultivars available. Among those that deserve consideration are several species of Phlox (The word phlox is Greek meaning flame and refers to their brightly colored flowers).

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) is the most widely grown phlox species in home landscapes. Garden phlox is a clump-forming, upright plant which produces large, showy flower clusters in summer. Plants are generally 2 to 4 feet tall. While the species itself is seldom grown in gardens, numerous cultivars are available. Gardeners can choose from white, pink, red, blue, and purple flowering cultivars. Unfortunately, many cultivars of garden phlox are susceptible to powdery mildew. Powdery mildew produces a grayish white coating on the stems and leaves of infected plants. Infected leaves turn yellow and eventually dry up and turn brown. Severely infected plants are unsightly. Good cultural practices, such as adequate plant spacing and the removal of infected plant debris in fall, can reduce the severity of powdery mildew. Gardeners can also minimize powdery mildew problems by selecting mildew resistant cultivars. Cultivars that possess good to excellent mildew resistance include ‘David’ (white flowers), ‘Laura’ (purple flowers with white eyes), ‘Orange Perfection’ (orange flowers), ‘Robert Poore’ (magenta flowers), and ‘Wendy House’ (reddish purple flowers). Garden phlox grows best in moist, fertile, well-drained soils in partial to full sun. Watering may be necessary during hot, dry periods.


A picture illustrating purple Phlox paniculata. Cindy Haynes, Department of Horticulture

Spotted phlox (Phlox maculata) is similar to garden phlox in appearance and cultural requirements. However, there are several differences. Spotted phlox is earlier flowering, has darker green leaves, conical flower heads, and better mildew resistance. Plants are generally 2 to 3 feet tall. Spotted phlox is native to Iowa. It is most commonly seen along roadsides and prairie swales in northeast Iowa. The species has mauve-pink flowers. Cultivars include ‘Alpha’ (rose-pink flowers with darker eyes), ‘Natascha’ (pink and white striped flowers), ‘Omega’ (white flowers with pink eyes), and ‘Rosalinde’ (purple-pink flowers).

Another native Phlox species is woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata). It is commonly found in moist, partially shaded woodland sites. Woodland phlox produces loose clusters of fragrant, blue to violet flowers in spring (April to June). Plants are typically 12 to 15 inches tall. Woodland phlox is an excellent plant for woodland gardens. It can also be used in the front of perennial beds or planted in clumps amongst other low-growing, shade tolerant perennials. Attractive cultivars include ‘Blue Moon’ (lavender blue flowers), ‘Clouds of Perfume’ (lavender blue flowers), ‘Fuller’s White’ (grows 8 to 12 inches tall, white flowers), ‘Louisiana Blue’ (purple flowers), and ‘May Breeze’ (white flowers). ‘Chattahoochee’ (Phlox divaricata subsp. laphamii) has lavender blue flowers with dark purple centers. Rabbits love woodland phlox. Plants may need to be protected with fencing during establishment.

Prairie phlox (Phlox pilosa) is a native prairie wildflower. It is commonly found in open woods, prairies, and meadows. Prairie phlox blooms from April to June. Flowers vary in color from pale pink to rose to violet. Plants stand 12 to 24 inches tall. Prairie phlox is an excellent plant for sunny, dry locations, rock gardens, and natural areas.

A common sight in many home landscapes in spring is the brightly colored flowers of moss phlox (Phlox subulata), commonly called “creeping phlox.” Moss phlox forms dense, carpet-like mats. Plants are 4 to 6 inches tall. Its foliage is narrow, stiff, and needle-like in appearance. Flower colors include white, pink, red, blue, and purple. Excellent cultivars include ‘Amazing Grace’ (white flowers with magenta eyes), ‘Drummond’s Pink’ (deep pink flowers with darker eyes), ‘Emerald Blue,’ ‘Emerald Pink,’ ‘Scarlet Flame’ (magenta red flowers), and ‘White Delight.’ Moss pink is easy to grow. It performs best in sunny areas and well-drained soils. Shearing back plants after flowering promotes dense growth and some rebloom. Moss phlox is useful for edging beds and as a groundcover for sunny slopes. It also looks good planted amongst rocks or atop a wall.


A picture illustrating white and purple Phlox subulata. Cindy Haynes, Department of Horticulture

Another low-growing phlox is creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera). Plants grow 6 to 12 inches tall and bloom in spring. Creeping phlox does best in moist, well-drained soils in partial shade. Excellent cultivars include ‘Blue Ridge,’ ‘Home Fires’ (pink flowers), ‘Pink Ridge,’ and ‘Sherwood Purple’ (purplish blue flowers). Creeping phlox is an excellent groundcover and edging plant.

When browsing in garden centers this spring, be sure to check out the species and cultivars of perennial phlox. They are excellent plants for home gardens.

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