Flowers on short erect stems cover creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) plants from late winter to early spring. This plant spreads to form a thick evergreen or semi-evergreen mat 6 to 12 inches tall. Creeping phlox is native to the eastern United States—and is also known as moss pink, moss phlox, mountain phlox, or thrift.
The fine textured foliage of creeping phlox is stiff and often prickly. The flowers have five petals and bloom in white, pink, red or purple. Some have darker or contrasting eyes. Creeping phlox plants have shallow root systems.
Creeping phlox plants are available in numerous flower colors. Emerald Blue is lavender-blue, Sherwood Purple is deep bluish-purple, and Millstream Daphne is dark blue. Rosy pink Fort Hill and bright pink Apple Blossom are good choices for pink flowers. Candy Stripe is white and pink, while Millstream is white with pink eyes.
Creeping phlox plants grow in zones 3 to 10. They grow in any type of soil and are moderately drought tolerant, but they prefer well-drained, evenly moist soil. They grow in full sun to partial shade. Cut the plants back 1/3 to 1/2 after flowering to promote thicker growth and a second light bloom. Propagate the plants by division or cuttings in the spring.
Most diseases that affect creeping phlox occur in humid or wet conditions. The most common diseases are leaf spots, rust, southern blight, powdery mildew, stem canker and crown rot.
Creeping Phlox plants are susceptible to spider mites in hot, dry weather, and stem nematodes in humid weather. Leaf miners and caterpillars also attack creeping phlox.
Use creeping phlox as a groundcover or to stabilize slopes. Its creeping form works well hanging over a wall or drooping from the edge of a planter. Grow creeping phlox as a contrast under tall leggy plants or as an edging around flowerbeds.