How to Grow Creeping Phlox

Overview

Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata), an evergreen perennial also known as moss pink or moss phlox, signals the arrival of spring with its mats of bright pink, lavender, white or red flowers. Throughout the rest of the year, the plant's short, needle-like foliage blends with grass and other parts of the landscape. Suitable for growing between large rocks or other areas lacking fertile soil, creeping phlox forms a thick ground cover that provides interest in the garden all year. Plants typically reach no more than 6 inches high, but spread more than 2 feet. Native to the eastern United States and hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9, creeping phlox thrives throughout the country with only minimal maintenance.

Step 1

Plant creeping phlox during spring after the threat of frost has passed. Select a location that consists of rich, well-drained soil and receives partial sunlight throughout the day. Amend poor soil by spreading a 2-inch layer of organic compost over the planting site and using a shovel to work it in before planting.

Step 2

Dig a hole at the planting site slightly deeper and twice as wide as the plant's root ball. Insert the root system into the hole and gently cover with soil to avoid unnecessary damage. Water lightly to initiate growth and compact the soil.

Step 3

Water creeping phlox once every 10 days during spring and fall, and once every seven days during summer. Soak the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches at each application to ensure the plant receives plenty of moisture. Do not allow standing water to accumulate around the plant; this could cause root rot.

Step 4

Feed the plant once a month using a balanced 12-12-12 NPK fertilizer to provide proper nutrition for root and foliage development. Read the manufacturer's directions for application instructions. Water lightly before and after applying to prevent injuring the plant's roots.

Step 5

Cut creeping phlox back to about 1/3 its original height immediately after flowering ends to increase vigor, reduce pests and produce a burst of lush foliage and, in some cases, a second flowering period.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not cut the plant back to more than half its original size, as it may not recover from such as severe pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic compost
  • Shovel
  • Fertilizer

References

  • Ohio State University: Phlox Subulata
  • University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service: Phlox Subulata
  • "New York Gardener's Guide"; Ralph Snodsmith; 2004
  • "Groundcovers for the South"; Marie Harrison; 2006

Who Can Help

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: grow creeping phlox, phlox subulata care, growing moss phlox

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.