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How to Transplant a Creeping Phlox

By Cindy Hill ; Updated September 21, 2017

Creeping phlox, also called Moss Pink (Phlox subulata) is a drought resistant, low spreading plant which blooms in a carpet of white or pink in mid-spring. Over time, a mat of creeping phlox will develop dead patches, which can be eliminated by digging up the plant, removing the dead areas, and replanting the remaining healthy portions in place. When shade creeps in or growing conditions change, the phlox can also be transplanted elsewhere, or divided for planting in new locations.

Shear the dead flower stems off the creeping phlox with hedge shears after spring blooming is done. Trim back outer extending stems with pruners to form a more compact plant.

Cut a circle around the creeping phlox with the flat-bladed shovel, keeping the shovel blade vertical and pushing it straight into the ground about 8 inches deep, just under the outer perimeter of the plant foliage. Water the plant lightly, and allow it to remain within the cut circle for one week.

Dig a hole 10 inches deep using the flat-bladed shovel, the same diameter and shape as that which you cut around the phlox, at the desired transplanting location. Add a 2 inch layer of compost to the bottom of this hole and mix the compost with the topsoil below the hole. Water the hole, then add more topsoil from the digging until the hole is about 8 inches deep.

Remove the creeping phlox plant by re-digging around the cut circle with the flat-bladed shovel, then sliding the shovel under the plant roots at a depth of about 8 inches. Carefully lift the plant and root ball and place it in a wheelbarrow or large plastic tub to move to the desired transplanting location.

Lower the creeping phlox root mass into the transplanting hole. Use remaining top soil dug from the hole to fill in around the roots just until the level of the soil over the roots matches the level of the surrounding ground. Water the transplanted phlox thoroughly with a dilute solution of liquid fish emulsion fertilizer.


Things You Will Need

  • Creeping phlox plant
  • Flat-bladed shovel
  • Wheelbarrow or large plastic tub
  • Compost
  • Pruners
  • Hedge shears
  • Fish emulsion fertilizer
  • Water


  • To divide creeping phlox, dig transplant holes the size of the desired divisions. After removing the creeping phlox plant from the ground, set it on soft ground and use the flat-bladed shovel to make sharp, quick vertical cuts straight through the plant and root mass to the size of the required divisions. Water these cut divisions immediately, before moving to transplant hole, to avoid having the freshly-cut roots dry out.

About the Author


A freelance writer since 1978 and attorney since 1981, Cindy Hill has won awards for articles on organic agriculture and wild foods, and has published widely in the areas of law, public policy, local foods and gardening. She holds a B.A. in political science from State University of New York and a Master of Environmental Law and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.