Phlox - Garden Basics - Flower - Perennial

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There are two species of phlox commonly grown in gardens today: P. stolonifera or creeping phlox and P. subulata or moss phlox, sometimes called moss pink or ground pink. These low-growing native American perennials are suitable for carpeting rock walls and banks with sheets of lavish spring color. Most phlox have flowers that bloom in loose clusters of four to ten blossoms.

Creeping phlox is native to eastern woodlands. It spreads rapidly on stems that root wherever nodes touch the ground, forming broad mats of foliage. Creeping phlox grows to only 6 - 12 inches high and is commonly used as a ground cover. Its broad oval leaves, about 1 1/2 inches across, are covered with downy hairs and lie flat on the ground, forming a dense carpet. The flowers are an inch across and usually come in shades of blue or purple.

Moss phlox stays green year-round in mild climates. It forms dense mats of foliage 6 inches high and is often used as a ground cover. Tiny needle-like leaves cover its stems, and it flowers profusely. The many varieties of moss phlox offer a wide choice of flowers with round, narrow, notched or starlike petals, in a range of colors that includes white, lilac, lavender, pink, rose, magenta and blue. In some varieties the flowers are slightly fragrant. Nurseries now offer many more phloxes, including some very showy hybrids.

Phlox is hardy in Zones 3-8. Creeping phlox grows best in shade or dappled sunlight in soil enriched with leaf mold, pH 5.5 to 7.0. Moss phlox, the easier species to grow, thrives in full sun in almost any well-drained soil. Phlox may be grown from seed, sown in spring or fall, or from nursery plants set out in the spring or autumn and spaced about 10 inches apart. To stimulate fresh growth and sometimes renew blooming, shear the foliage after flowering.

Established clumps of creeping phlox and moss phlox may be divided in the spring after flowering. New plants may also be started from seed--both seed themselves freely, or they may be started from tip cuttings taken in summer to flower the following year.

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