Garden Phlox Plant Facts
Phlox is one of the most popular flowering plants in the world. It grows in temperate regions and it prefers moist soil with good drainage. It’s leaves are long and slender, which makes them look like they’re made out of paper mache or spider silk. They have a distinctive purple coloration that resembles a cross between a flower and a butterfly wing.
The flowers are white, pinkish red, orange, yellow or green. Flowers appear from May until September.
It grows best in full sun and it tolerates some shade. It likes rich soil with plenty of organic matter and water but not too much. It prefers well drained soil so that the roots don’t get dry during the summer months.
The plant produces small, round fruits called seedpods. These pods contain up to four seeds each. Seeds germinate after three days when temperatures reach 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 C).
A single plant can produce hundreds of fruit pods per year. Each pod contains only two seeds. When ripe, the pods break open and release their contents into the air where they grow into new plants.
Garden phlox are sometimes called wild sweet williams.
Garden phlox plants contain a toxin that prevents herbivores from eating it. The toxin, however, doesn’t affect humans.
Phlox is the provincial flower of Manitoba, Canada.
It has many varieties and species. Some of these types include:
Carolina phlox (Phlox carolina) The flowers are white with a purple center.
Common phlox (Phlox paniculata) The flowers are white with red stripes. It has a sweet fragrance.
Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) Creeping phlox is a type of groundcover that is used as a lawn substitute. It blends in with the surrounding grass, so it’s only visible when its flowers bloom. Its flowers have a sweet fragrance.
Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) It has white flowers with pink centers. Its leaves have a blue-green color and its flowers are larger than the common phlox.
Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) Woodland phlox grows in clumps. Its white flowers don’t have a strong scent.
Phlox is part of the Polemoniaceae family. It is related to the genus Lobelia.
How To Care For Garden Phlox
Garden phlox likes full sun and well-drained soil that has been enriched with organic matter such as compost or rotted leaves. The plants do not tolerate frost. If your growing zone suffers from cold temperatures, plant garden phlox in containers and move the containers indoors when the weather turns cold.
This plant does not tolerate competition from weeds. It also doesn’t grow well in wet soil. To keep your garden phlox plants healthy, water them regularly and add a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the plants.
Use a water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Fertilize right before or after watering to avoid leaf burn caused by an excess of nutrients.
Deadhead your garden phlox plants as soon as the flower dies. This prevents the plant from expending its energy producing seeds instead of new flowers.
When grown in containers, garden phlox plants prefer a heavy potting soil with a handful of sand added to improve drainage. Feed container-grown plants every three months with a slow-release fertilizer or liquid fertilizer.
Garden phlox plants are susceptible to a number of fungal and viral diseases. Protect them by growing them in moist, well-drained soil. Give container-grown plants adequate drainage. You can prevent root rot, a common fungal disease, by planting your container-grown plants in a container that has several holes in the bottom to allow for good drainage.
Garden phlox plants are susceptible to insect pests like aphids and thrips. It is also prone to whiteflies, a problem that is made worse by the plant’s own habit of attracting bees and other types of beneficial insects.
Garden phlox spreads by both seed and division. Division is the preferred method of propagation because it doesn’t involve waiting for seeds to develop. Dividing garden phlox makes the plant grow stronger and increases your collection.
To divide a garden phlox plant, use a shovel to carefully dig up the root ball. Some people recommend using gloves for this task because the plant’s skin irritates sensitive skin. Once you’ve loosened the root mass from the surrounding soil, use your hands to gently tease apart the roots. Some gardeners recommend using a small hatchet to sever overly tangled roots because this makes it easier to untangle them and prevents injury caused by excessive pulling. Replant the divisions after treating their roots with a root stimulator.
Garden phlox plants can be easily propagated from stem cuttings, but this technique is only effective on young plants. Take 10-inch cuttings from the tips of young shoots and remove the lowest sets of leaves. Make a diagonal cut 1/4 inch below a node. Dip the cutting tip in a rooting hormone and stick it in a container of seed starting mix. Insert the container in a cool, shaded area such as a garage or basement.
Keep the soil lightly moist and wait for new roots and growth. Move the container into direct sunlight after roots become established.
Garden phlox makes an excellent choice for bringing color and joy into your home during the winter months when little else is blooming. This versatile plant not only adds charm to your home, it is extremely easy to grow and maintain.
Sources & references used in this article:
Morphology and irrigation efficiency of Gaura lindheimeri grown with capacitance sensor-controlled irrigation by SE Burnett, MW van Iersel – HortScience, 2008 – journals.ashs.org
In vitro induction of tetraploids in Phlox subulata L. by Z Zhang, H Dai, M Xiao, X Liu – Euphytica, 2008 – Springer
Phlox: a natural history and gardener’s guide by JH Locklear – 2011 – books.google.com
Florida wild flowers and roadside plants by B Taylor – 1982 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org
Determination of silicon concentration in some horticultural plants by BK Hogendorp, RA Cloyd, JM Swiader – HortScience, 2012 – journals.ashs.org
Development and Evaluation of Laboratory Bioassays to Study Powdery Mildew Pathogens of Phlox In Vitro by C Farinas, P Jourdan, PA Paul… – Plant disease, 2019 – Am Phytopath Society
Shoot regeneration from leaf tissues of Phlox paniculata L. by V Declerck, SS Korban – Journal of plant physiology, 1995 – Elsevier
Phenotypic plasticity in Phlox. I. Wild and cultivated populations of P. drummondii by CD Schlichting, DA Levin – American Journal of Botany, 1988 – Wiley Online Library