Phlox are annual or perennial herbaceous plants that form pretty cushions of flowers during the summer. More often than not, their opposite leaves have the appearance of foam. Also, their flowers, arranged in rounded bunches, offer soft colors. Easy to grow, phlox need watering in dry weather and compost for abundant flowering. These plants like fertile, well-drained, preferably non-calcareous soil in sunny conditions. You can use them in flower beds, rock gardens, borders, and walls.
Among the perennial varieties, there is, on the one hand, the phlox paniculata, commonly known as garden phlox, which is vigorous, erect, bushy, and can reach up to one meter according to the species. On the other hand, the phlox subulata, dwarf, persistent, hardy, is an excellent ground cover that does not exceed 15cm in height. The colors range from white to carmine red. To know everything about phlox, choose them well, and grow them in the garden.
You can learn the following:
* Main Features
* Where To Plant?
* When And How To Plant?
* Care And Maintenance
* Pests And Diseases
Phlox are herbaceous, annual, or perennial plants originating from North America. Today, there are just over 80 species, and most cultivated varieties are native to the United States. In gardens, the most common is phlox paniculata and phlox subulata. They are easy to grow, rustic, and they come from temperate climates. Etymologically, the name phlox comes from the Greek and means «flame,» due to the bright color of some species. Phlox belongs to the pemanoniaceae family, with its beautiful blue flowers and very indented foliage.
Regarding the shape of the plant, phlox are either upright, like the garden phlox, or lining, like phlox subulata. The height of the phlox is, therefore, very changeable. Some can reach between 10-20 cm for the lowest height, while others can stand up to two meters for the type of phlox with an erect habit. Also, you can find different species of phlox in rocky areas, near waterways, or in the undergrowth.
The use of phlox can, therefore, differ according to their shape. Some species with a compact habit can find their place at the front of beds or in rock gardens. In contrast, varieties with an upright habit can fit into the middle or bottom of a bed or mixed border, behind lower plants.
Flowering takes place between April and October. Phlox paniculate blossoms in summer, from July to September-October, while phlox subulata flourishes in spring, in April and May. The phlox offers a very generous flowering! The flowers often have soft, pastel shades of white, pale pink, mauve, or blue. They can also be two-colored.
For example, The phlox ‘Starfire,’ with its red flowers, is one of the most intense varieties. Additionally, the corolla consists of five more or less delicate petals, fused into an elongated tube. They give the flower a star shape. Some species are charmingly fragrant and sweet.
Where to Plant?
Phlox flowers enjoy the sun or light shade. Sunny exposures can ensure an abundant flowering. However, you should take into consideration the geographical situation. If you live in the north, plant them in the sun, but if you live in and area that is similar to the Mediterranean region, they can appreciate a lightly shaded area during the hottest hours of the day. Some species like planting in the shade or undergrowth, such as phlox stolonifera.
Phlox plants do not like calcareous soils. They prefer slightly acidic or neutral soils. They appreciate draining substrates, where water does not stagnate in winter. Also, avoid confined environments, which may encourage cryptogamic diseases.
The garden phlox appreciate humus-rich, fertile, light, and deep soils. They can enjoy the land that remains cool in summer. They are rather suitable for bedding plants.
When and How to Plant?
Plant phlox in your garden, preferably in early spring, around April, but you can also do it in the autumn. We advise you to keep a distance of 30 or 40 cm between the plants. Prepare the ground by digging a planting hole about twice the size of the root ball.
Bring well-decomposed compost, as the phlox appreciates soils that have good organic matter. Place the phlox in the planting hole. Replace the land all around and pack it down lightly. Do not forget to water abundantly. We suggest that you add a mulch to keep the soil fresh. Continue to water regularly in the weeks following planting.
Care and Maintenance
Water the phlox frequently, especially during the summer. If they suffer from drought, the flowering can deplete, and the foliage can become unsightly. Add mulching to keep the soil cooler. It is best to remove wilted flowers, as it can encourage new buds to appear, and is likely to extend the blooming. Taller varieties may require staking.
As phlox appreciate fertile soils, we also advise you, in the autumn, to put some well-decomposed compost at their foot, possibly by including it lightly into the ground. You can also add an organic fertilizer in the spring. Divide the phlox on average every four years to regenerate the clumps. After a few years, the clusters can become exhausted, and their flowering becomes less abundant. It can allow you to replant them elsewhere in your garden, or to offer them to your loved ones!
Pests and Diseases
Phlox are hardy perennials that live long in our gardens. It is quite common for them to be affected by powdery mildew in the summer. This cryptogamic disease results in the appearance of a white felting on the foliage. Regarding powdery mildew, it is best to avoid planting too densely as to allow air circulation and to water by directing the spray at the base of the plant, without wetting the foliage.
Once you observe the disease, you can remove the affected leaves to limit its development and treat it with sulfur. Phlox can also be affected by septoria, which causes brown spots to appear on the leaves, and by verticillium disease, which causes foliage to wilt and the plant to die. In phlox, however, these two diseases are less common than powdery mildew.
For other pests, phlox can be attacked by leafminers and slugs. Young snails nibble on tender shoots.
The phlox flowers offer rich blossom, often in soft, sometimes vivid shades. In the flowering period, some varieties cover themselves with beautiful clusters, forming large colorful carpets! Depending on the variety, they can be planted in beds, on stone walls, or in rock gardens. Besides, birds and butterflies love phlox flowers. The flower finds its place easily in beds or mixed borders, along with other summer-flowering perennials.