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Phlox Growing Basics

 

The many varieties of phlox are common - and bright - garden favorites

Long-blooming phlox are a delightful choice for many gardens. They sit in the background - tall garden phlox (P. paniculata), providing color for as long as six weeks during the summer and into fall.

Phlox are a bit particular about location - they need plenty of air circulation so don't place them along a fenceline or up against a house. They love full sun and some will do fine in partial shade. Give the root system plenty of composted, well-draining soil. Keep it moist, though, and avoid getting water on the leaves and blooms if possible.

When new growth reaches about six inches, leave about five stems and discard the remainder. Pinch off the tips and you'll see greater growth and less chance of powdery mildew. Divide after about four years - in the spring before the sprouts begin shooting through the mulch.

Many of the newer cultivars are resistant to powdery mildew, but don't count on it. Keep the plants dry and place in a windy spot for best disease control. Spider mites are another problem that can usually be treated with insecticidal soap.

If watered, phlox are pretty hardy in a variety of soils - even hard red clay - although the above-mentioned composted choice is ideal.

When cutting back for over-wintering, leave a single stem and discard all the rest in the trash. Don't plan on composting as there may be clinging mildew spores.

Other Phlox varieties

Garden phlox may get most of the glory, but other varieties exist. Spotted phlox (P. maculata) is somewhat more resistant to mildew. It is not as stately or tall, but is a beautiful addition to any garden. P. divaricata, or woodland phlox, requires a bit more shade and moist environment. It has more clumping capabilities and is a low-grower by comparison to the aforementioned species.

Moss phlox (P. subulata) is called creeping phlox, but the true "creeping" variety is actually P. solonifera. Place in sun-dappled expanses as groundcover and for soil retention. They're also recommended as border plants.

Phlox varieties are rated hardy in Zones 3-8. Many varieties will not survive a frost and are treated as annuals. Tall garden phlox, however, is considered a perennial.

 

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