Grow phlox from seed

Creeping Phlox

  • How to Prune Creeping Phlox
  • How to Space Creeping Phlox
  • Phlox
  • The Best Time to Transplant Creeping Phlox
  • How Long Does Moss Phlox Bloom?
  • How Far Apart to Plant Creeping Phlox?
  • How to Transplant Creeping Phlox

Creeping phlox looks elegant crawling over rocks and tumbling over walls in gardens. With a soft blanket of needle-shaped green and a vibrant show of small pink, white, red, or purple flowers in early spring, creeping phlox makes an easy and strikingly beautiful ground cover that just continues to spread as far as there’s dirt to allow it. Sometimes pruning is needed to tame this perennial plant, however.

Lift the green layer of your phlox plant. Creeping phlox grows in layers with the newest growth on the top. Underneath you will see that there is a layer of brown, dying old foliage.

Trim the brown layer back dramatically with the garden shears or a pair of regular scissors if garden shears are not available. There may be a middle layer, depending on the age of your plants, of older but still green foliage.

Feather in the middle layer by trimming it back but not cut as far back as the browned section. As this layer falls into place, it will hide the old, unsightly decayed section.

Trim the new growth on top, allowing it to cover the middle section. Carefully cut each flower to shape the plant in a natural versus cutting off in a straight line.

How to Space Creeping Phlox

Prepare a sunny planting area for the creeping phlox. Work the soil with the garden spade down to a depth of approximately 12 inches. Work in at least 2 inches of compost to the top of the soil with a garden spade to improve the soil. Rake the soil surface smooth.

Dig holes for the creeping phlox plants that are two times wider than the temporary container holding the phlox plants. Consult specific planting instructions accompanying your creeping phlox plants to ensure that you space the plants properly. Generally, space creeping phlox plants 10 to 12 inches apart; in a short time, they will grow together to fill in the spaces.

Place the phlox plants into the prepared holes so that the tops of the root balls are at the same height as the surrounding soil. Fill in soil around the roots of the phlox plants and pat it down carefully. Water the plants generously.


Shop for Perennial Flower Seeds

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.

GROWING PHLOX 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.

The Best Time to Transplant Creeping Phlox

Creeping phlox ideally should transplanted in spring, as soon as the ground thaws but before the plant blooms. Creeping phlox, an early spring bloomer, also can be transplanted immediately after blooming.

How Long Does Moss Phlox Bloom?

blue phlox image by Liga Lauzuma from

Moss phlox (also called creeping phlox) blooms for a two-week period in the spring. The blooming period ranges from March to May depending on the planting zone. This perennial evergreen ground cover prefers a sunny location for best blooming results.

How Far Apart to Plant Creeping Phlox?

Creeping phlox, or Phlox subulata, should be planted 8 inches apart from each other. The plants grow 4 to 5 inches high with early springtime flowers. It is used as a ground cover, border plant and for rock gardens.

How to Transplant Creeping Phlox

Loosen soil by cutting through the thick mat of phlox. Keep the section you wish to transplant plug-sized–around a couple of inches in diameter. Phlox grows quickly by spreading its roots. Creeping phlox propagates best from non-woody stems.

Prepare your transplant location by loosening the soil. Mix in humus or compost to improve the nutrient content. Creeping phlox propagates by spreading new roots and “creeping” its way in open soil.

Pull your phlox plug, gently, lifting the roots out of most of the dirt. It’s important to have bare root but some dirt is fine.

Replant your plug by just covering the roots in the loose soil of the new area, and water immediately. Keep soil moist until plant starts to re-root itself.

Learn About Phlox

Bacterial Leaf Spot: First signs are small translucent spots with a broad yellowish edge that slowly enlarge and become angular or irregularly circular with a reddish center. It thrives in cooler temperatures. The disease may also affect and disfigure flower heads. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants. Rotate crops with plants in a different family. Avoid overhead watering. Do not work around plants when they are wet.

Damping Off: This is one of the most common problems when starting plants from seed. The seedling emerges and appears healthy; then it suddenly wilts and dies for no obvious reason. Damping off is caused by a fungus that is active when there is abundant moisture and soils and air temperatures are above 68 degrees F. Typically, this indicates that the soil is too wet or contains high amounts of nitrogen fertilizer. Burpee Recommends: Keep seedlings moist but do not overwater; avoid over-fertilizing your seedlings; thin out seedlings to avoid overcrowding; make sure the plants are getting good air circulation; if you plant in containers, thoroughly wash them in soapy water and rinse in a ten per cent bleach solution after use.

Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Rust: A number of fungus diseases cause rust colored spots on foliage. Burpee Recommends: Plant resistant varieties. Practice crop rotation. Remove infected plants. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.

Septoria Leaf Spot: This disease is most severe during rainy seasons in closely planted gardens. Circular spots with gray centers and dark margins appear on the lower older leaves. Fungus spores are produced and darken the center of the spots. There is a progressive loss of foliage. Burpee Recommends: Remove and destroy infected plant debris. Don’t handle or brush against plants when they are wet. Rotate plantings. Remove weeds growing nearby.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Deer: Plants may be eaten to the ground. Burpee Recommends: Try a deer repellent or physical barrier for young plants.

Leafminers: These insects bore just under the leaf surface causing irregular serpentine lines. The larvae are yellow cylindrical maggots and the adults are small black and yellow flies. They do not usually kill plants, but disfigure the foliage. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected foliage. Sanitation is important so be sure to remove all debris at the end of the season.

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.

Thrips: Thrips are tiny needle-thin insects that are black or straw colored. They suck the juices of plants and attack flower petals, leaves and stems. The plant will have a stippling, discolored flecking or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips can spread many diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Many thrips may be repelled by sheets of aluminum foil spread between rows of plants. Remove weeds from the bed and remove debris from the bed after frost. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls.

Garden Phlox Plants: Tips For Growing And Care Of Garden Phlox

Nothing beats the appeal of garden phlox plants. These tall, eye-catching perennials are ideal for sunny borders. In addition, the large clusters of pink, purple, lavender or white flowers bloom for several weeks in summer, and make excellent cut flowers. Growing hardy garden phlox is simple and so is its general care.

Info on Garden Phlox

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), also called summer phlox, is a sun-loving perennial with a long flowering season. Large clusters of flowers, called panicles, sit atop stems that grow 3 to 4 feet tall. This native American wildflower thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 8.

Growing hardy garden phlox is a challenge in hot, humid areas because the plant is sensitive to powdery mildew. Watch for foliage that looks as though it has been dusted with talcum powder, and pinch off the affected leaves. In severe cases, treat the plants with fungicide. You may be able to avoid powdery mildew by choosing varieties labeled as “mildew resistant.”

Care of Garden Phlox

Set out new garden phlox plants in early spring. Choose a sunny location with moist but well-draining soil. Work some compost into the soil before planting if your soil doesn’t manage water well.

Give the plants plenty of room, especially in hot, humid areas where air circulation around the plant will help keep powdery mildew to a minimum. Use the recommended spacing on the plant tag, which is usually 18 to 24 inches.

Fertilize with a shovelful of compost for each plant or a light application of 10-10-10 fertilizer at planting time and again just before the flowers open. If you fertilize once more after the flowers fade, you may get another flush of flowers.

Water garden phlox plants weekly for the first few weeks and often enough to keep the soil lightly moist thereafter. Keep the foliage as dry as possible by applying the water to the soil rather than the foliage. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the plants to help the soil hold moisture.

Care of garden phlox also includes the clipping of flower stems after the flowers fade. This keeps the plants looking tidy, and also prevents the flowers from dropping seeds. Since garden phlox plants are generally hybrids, the seedlings that result from dropped seeds won’t resemble the parent plants.

How to Grow Tall Garden Phlox

Many people wonder how to grow tall garden phlox. To get the maximum height from tall garden phlox, clip the weakest stems from the plant when they are about 6 inches tall, leaving only five or six stems on the plant. Pinch out the tips of the remaining stems to encourage a tall, bushy growth habit.

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