How to plant phlox ground cover?

A Tale of Two Species: Phlox stolonifera and Phlox subulata

A name like “creeping phlox” might not sound particularly inspiring.

In fact, when I first heard of it, I was pretty sure that it wasn’t going to be a particularly pretty plant at all. But with bright purple, pink, white, and blue stars of flowers set against vibrant green foliage, it’s clear that the name doesn’t do justice to this delightful candy-colored plant (and perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge!).

And the good news doesn’t stop there. A low-growing, easygoing, evergreen perennial that grows happily in tough places, creeping phlox is the perfect option to bring a splash of color to a rock garden, or for a cascading cover over stone walls.

In fact, both types are up to the task. There are actually two different species that go by this common name.

So, if you’re looking for a flowering ground cover that is both beautiful and easy to grow, look no further!

Cultivation and Historical use

Creeping phlox, P. stolonifera,and moss phlox, P. subulata, are both perennials originating from North America, and both are firm favorites among gardeners.

And clearly, gardeners aren’t the only fans of this plant. Native Americans even named April’s full moon – the “Full Pink Moon” – after the flower, heralding the arrival of the swathes of purple and pink which, as early bloomers, signify the start of spring.

The vibrancy of this plant is even reflected in its name – the genus name phlox is derived from the Greek word meaning “flame,” referring to the intense color of its flowers.

Phlox stolonifera vs. Phlox subulata

When I was first researching this plant, I got a bit confused as to which phlox species was the “true” creeping phlox. I found that, technically speaking, P. stolonifera is a “creeping phlox” and P. subulata is a “moss phlox.” But that thanks to the fact that both species are remarkably similar, both in appearance and in biology, the two common names are often used interchangeably.

Both are semi-evergreen ground cover plants that bloom with beautiful flowers in spring. That being said, there are a few notable differences between the two.

For instance, P. subulata only reaches a height of around 6 inches, whereas P. stolonifera can grow to around double that.

P. subulata requires full sun and reaches just 6 inches tall. Making it the ideal border plant where you might need low ground cover to fill a space.

P. subulata also has much more needle-like leaves, wheres P. stolonifera has more of a mixed foliage.

However, the main difference between the two is that, whilst P. stolonifera tolerates partial shade, P. subulata is very much a sun-seeker (I can empathize with this), and so only thrives in full sunlight.

P. stolonifera is good with partial shade and can reach up to 12 inches in height.

Both are such similar plants that they are often confused. If I really had to choose between the two, I’d say P. subulata might just about win out as a ground cover, thanks to that fact that it’s shorter and tends to bloom more densely. But both options can bring beauty to the garden, when planted under the right conditions.

An Easygoing but Disorderly Ground Cover

Both phlox species are not particularly fussy, although they prefer well drained, humus-rich soil.

Growing only 3-8 inches tall (7-20 centimeters), but spreading as wide as 9 inches up to 2 feet (22-60 centimeters), creeping phlox is an ideal ground cover and companion plant.

Although it is perfectly at home on flat land, to appreciate this plant in all its colorful glory, it might be best to place it on a slope, where the blooms can be properly seen and enjoyed.

Slopes also provide an ideal home for phlox for two other reasons:

1. It tends to favor well-drained soils.

2. It’s well known for helping to prevent erosion, making it perfect for growing in more sensitive areas like slopes.

There is one thing to watch out for when planting. As the name suggests, this is a plant that creeps, and it is a very successful creeper at that.

For some gardeners, this is ideal – it is a perennial plant that will spread to cover every inch of empty space. But if you’re the type of gardener that prefers well behaved and orderly plants, this might not be the best one for you.

Pick your Phlox

With so many varieties to choose from, there’s no doubt that you can find the right kind to suit your tastes and your garden.

Generally very hardy and adaptable plants, the most important consideration is probably color. With a variety of vibrant shades of pink, purple, and blue to choose from, this can be a tough decision.

Named after the Appalachian Mountain ranges from which the plant originates, two of the most common varieties of P. stolonifera are ‘Blue Ridge’ and ‘Pink Ridge.’ There is also a white variety called ‘Bruce’s White’ that’s popular among gardeners, named after the wildflower enthusiast Bruce Chin.

‘Candy Stripe’ Creeping Phlox Plant

If you’re into pinks like I am, I recommend a beautiful type of vibrant striped ‘Candy Stripe’ P. subulata which you can find on Amazon or purchase from Burpee.

‘Snowflake’ Phlox

Or for something more delicate, check out the ‘Snowflake’ variety, available from Nature Hills Nursery.

How to Ensure an Influx of Phlox

It’s easy to grow P. stolonifera and P. subulata from seed, cuttings, and transplants.

From seed, the main thing to remember is to use a potting medium with good drainage, preferably comprised of perlite and coarse sand granules. It’s best to seed them about 2 months before the last frost date. Once the plants start to emerge, it’s important to give them enough sunlight – around 12 hours a day.

However, it is probably easier to grow from cuttings or transplants than it is from seeds. Luckily, this plant can be found easily in nurseries, or you may be able to take some cuttings from a friend.

Because of its easygoing nature, this plant will happily take to the soil in both spring and autumn.

The main thing to keep in mind is the planting distance, with a recommended spacing of around 15 to 18 inches between each.

Creeping phlox, as the name suggests, creeps along the ground and spreads with long, leggy runners. It’s best to plant in staggered rows, allowing enough room for each plant to occupy the space around it.

There’s nothing too complicated or technical about planting – just try to keep the top of the root ball level with the ground, be sure to give each plant a good first soaking to settle it into its new home, and you should be good to go.

Growing Tips

P. stolonifera and P. subulata are adaptable and versatile plants which, when situated in the right place with the right amount of sun exposure, will thrive without any special care.

There are, however, a few things you can do to help these flowers along.

Both P. stolonifera and P. subulata take kindly to either a late winter or early spring feeding with a slow release fertilizer or organic plant food, which helps promote strong and vigorous growth.

Don’t forget: it doesn’t like soggy soil, so generally speaking, it’s best to keep watering to a minimum.

Of course, even when well established, phlox benefits from an extra watering during especially hot summers, or if you live somewhere that gets an average of less than 1 inch of rain per week.

Maintenance

Although not strictly necessary, a bit of trimming from time to time does this plant some good.

Stems can be cut back at a couple of different times throughout the year: once after flowering to encourage a second bloom, with an occasional winter cut-back to keep the plant happy, healthy, and raring to go, ready for the following spring.

Cutting the stems back like this also encourages their naturally long growth to become shorter and woodier, creating more dense flowering.

Propagation

Creeping phlox is easy to propagate through division, stem cuttings, or rooted stems.

Cuttings, if done right, are a particularly easy option to propagate, as they root easily after a few months.

All you need to do is cut a roughly 6-inch-long section, either from a rooted stem or a lateral shoot near the tip. Make sure there’s at least one leaf and no flowers on the cutting. Always make cuttings with a clean, sharp tool to prevent infection.

Creeping phlox roots so well that it doesn’t even require rooting hormone, although this product will help speed along the process if you’re keen to ensure success. Just place the cuttings in a potting mixture with good drainage, using perlite and/or coarse sand, and you’re good to go.

One thing to bear in mind is timing, which is everything with this plant. It’s recommended to take cuttings in spring or autumn, although it seems to take root particularly well in autumn after it has flowered.

You can also propagate P. stolonifera and P. subulata easily through division. It is best to divide in early fall when temperatures are cool. It’s recommended to divide this plant once every few years to keep it healthy, especially if it seems to be blooming less than usual.

Root cuttings should be taken just before the arrival of new spring shoots. Root cuttings of around 1.5 inches should do the trick, and they should be fully inserted into firmed compost, taking care that the end furthest from the root tip is facing up.

Top tip: when taking root cuttings, you can nick the top of the cuttings to indicate which end is which, to make sure you don’t get mixed up.

Managing Pests and Diseases

This beautiful bloomer can be a bit susceptible to mites. To stop any problems from “creeping” up on you, it is important to act fast, as soon as you spot signs of trouble.

This can usually be easily achieved by using an organic insecticidal soap.

In moist conditions, P. stolonifera and P. subulata can also suffer from powdery mildew. The best way to ensure that this isn’t a problem is to keep watering to a minimum, although this can also be quite effectively prevented via occasional pruning to promote good air circulation.

Creeping Phlox Quick Reference Growing Guide

Plant Type: Herbacious perennial Tolerance: Deer
Native To: Eastern/central US Flower Color: Pink, purple, blue, white
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 3-9 Maintenance: Low
Bloom Time: Spring Soil Type: Sandy/loamy
Exposure: Sun facing, full or partial sun Soil pH: 6.0-8.0
Time to Maturity: 2 years Soil Drainage: Well-drained
Spacing: 15-18 inches Companion Planting: Various shrubs, as it is low-growing
Planting Depth: Shallow, with top of root ball level with the ground Uses: Ground cover
Height: 3-8 inches Family: Polemoniaceae
Spread: up to 2 feet Genus: Phlox
Water Needs: Low Species: P. stolonifera, P. subulata
Attracts: Butterflies
Pests & Diseases: Mites, powdery mildew

Time to Get Growing!

With its vibrant flowers and easygoing nature, there is no doubt that this beautiful perennial will quickly creep its way into both your garden and your heart, whichever species you choose!

Whether you’re planting it to cover a slope, attract pollinators to your yard, or to add a splash of vibrant color to a partly shady corner, that’s a cultivar that’s up to the task. And with little maintenance required, you’ll be glad you chose these beautiful blooms.

What’s your favorite variety? Do you have any questions that we didn’t cover here? Feel free to reach out in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!

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© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Nature Hills Nursery and Dogwooderitternet. Uncredited photos: . With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

About Natasha Foote

With a passion for soil health and growing trees, Natasha Foote is a biologist who was hit with a serious case of green fingers, and decided to swap sterile laboratories for getting her hands dirty in the soil. Formerly a farmer and researcher working with the agroforestry project Mazi Farm in Greece, when she wasn’t working on the farm, she was busy studying soil biology under the microscope. Now, you can find her in the south of France where, in between enjoying all the fresh peaches, plums, apricots, and cherries that the area has to offer, she’s working on various agricultural projects whilst writing about all things green.

3 Steps to Growing Creeping Phlox

Creeping phlox is a popular flowering perennial which is often observed growing around the perimeter of a garden or yard as a garden border. These dense plants are appropriately employed as ground cover to grow over large areas of land. Creeping phlox spreads throughout an area hastily and is one of the few spring blooming plants that can be used as both a ground cover and a garden border. Creeping phlox is fairly easy to grow; this article will give you step-by-step instructions that will teach you how to successfully grow this plant in your garden.

Step 1 – Choose to Grow from Seedlings or Seeds

Before you can begin to grow creeping phlox you need to determine whether you want to grow the plant from seed or purchase seedlings from a nursery. Purchasing semi-established seedling from a nursery is the easiest and fastest way to populate your garden with creeping phlox. Instead of taking many months to raise the plant from a seed, you will only need to focus your attention on growing and taking care of the seedlings.

If you decide to grow creeping phlox from seed you will need to raise the plant in a container for the first year or two until it is established enough to sustain itself in nature. Growing any plant from seed is a fairly delicate process that takes several months worth of patience and careful attention.

Step 2 – Plant Seedlings in the Garden

If you’re growing your creeping phlox from seeds, you will not execute step 2 for at least a year after growing the plant in a container. Assuming that you have an established creeping phlox seedling in your possession, the first task you have is to determine where to plant the seedling.

Remember that creeping phlox is notorious for its ability to spread throughout an area of land fairly quickly. If you do not have the time in your schedule to do a bi-yearly prune and maintain the plant’s new growth, you should plant in an area where you wish for the ground to be covered. If you’re using creeping phlox as a garden border, bear in mind that it will need to be maintained every year if you don’t want it to encroach on your other plants.

After choosing an appropriate area to plant your seedlings, you will need to dig a hole in the dirt that is 1 inch deeper than the container that you bought the plant in. After digging your hole, remove the seedling from its container by putting your left hand on the largest stem of the seedling and then turning the container upside down. Gently massage the container with your free hand until the contents are liberated. Break apart the root system before placing the seedling in the ground and watering it in.

Step 3 – Learn General Plant Maintenance

Creeping phlox should only be given supplemental water during the hottest summer months and in drought conditions. Mulch around the base of newly established plants and fertilize adults once a year with granular or liquid fertilizer. Prune during the beginning of fall in order to maintain proper shape and health.

Phlox

Traits

  • Sun
  • Groundcover
  • Rockery
  • Container

Flowering Season

Summer, Autumn, Spring

Genus

This North American genus containing 67 species of annuals and perennials belongs to the phlox (Polemoniaceae) family. They are a variable group, ranging from carpeting rockery groundcovers through wiry-stemmed trailers to large bushy perennials with strongly erect stems. Annual phlox tend to be small mounding bushes; rock phlox closely hug the ground; trailing forms have long stems; and border phlox are upright and bushy, often with plenty of foliage. The genus name comes from the Greek word for flame – an apt description for the vibrant flowers in this genus. They are ideal subjects for bedding and border schemes.

Appearance

Phlox species have variable growth habits, and their foliage differs markedly too: from tiny linear leaves to lance-shaped dark green foliage over 10cm long. They all bear clusters of similar flowers, which are small, long tubed, widely flared, bell-shaped, slightly fragrant, and grow in brightly coloured sprays. Pink to purple and white are the predominant flower colours, and the blooming season ranges from spring to autumn depending on the species.

Cultivation

Plant Phlox species in a sunny or partly shaded position. Rockery phloxes and those grown in hanging baskets prefer a fairly light soil. Border phloxes need a heavier, more humus-rich soil and may need staking. They also need good ventilation to prevent late-season mildew. Depending on the growth form, Phlox species are propagated from seed or cuttings, or by division.

Gardening Australia suggests you check with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of any plants for your particular area.

© Global Book Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd from Flora’s Gardening Cards

Moss Phlox

When carpets of moss phlox bloom across America in April and May you know that spring is serious about staying. Another easy-to-grow perennial, moss phlox clings easily to steep banks, grows snugly against rocks, and cascades over rock walls with very little supervision from the gardener.

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Description of moss phlox: Evergreen, dark green, prickly leaves grow on trailing stems. Groups of three to five 5-petaled, flat flowers are held above the foliage. Flowers may be blue, purple, pink, red, white, or striped. Plants grow 6 inches tall.

How to grow moss phlox: Moss phlox is not picky about soil but needs good drainage and full sun to flourish. After plants finish blooming, shear them back by one-half to encourage compact growth later in the season. As with all evergreen perennials, do not prune in the fall. Wait until spring to remove any foliage that has become damaged over the winter. Divide plants every three years after they bloom to keep them vigorous.

Propagating moss phlox: By division or layering. To layer, cover a piece of a nonflowering stem with 1 inch of soil and keep the soil moist. Roots will develop and the rooted stem can be removed and planted elsewhere.

Uses for moss phlox: Plant in the rock garden, mix with spring-flowering bulbs, or use in clumps in the perennial garden. Moss phlox is not a good ground cover for large areas because it gets too thin.

Moss phlox related varieties: ‘Candy Stripe’ has colorful two-tone flowers of white and pink. ‘Emerald Blue’ has pale lilac blue flowers and good foliage. ‘Millstream Daphne’ has deep pink flowers with a dark eye. It is a vigorous grower, and compact. ‘Pink Emerald’ has long-blooming pink flowers.

Scientific name for moss phlox: Phlox subulata

Want more gardening information? Try:

  • Perennial Flowers: Find out more about how to grow and care for perennial flowers, which come in all thinkable shapes, sizes and colors.
  • Annual Flowers: Learn more about annuals and their glorious, must-have summer colors.
  • Perennials: Discover many species of flowers that will return year after year to the diligent gardener.
  • Gardening: Read our helpful articles and get tips and ideas for your garden.

Flower:

Clusters of up to 9 slender-stalked flowers at the tips of branches. Flowers are about ¾ inch across with 5 petals that are fused at the base into a long, slender tube, typically with a dark “eye” around the mouth of the tube. Petal shape varies from narrowly wedge-shaped to elliptic to nearly round and usually has a notch at the tip. Color ranges from white to pink to blue-violet. Inside the tube are 5 stamens of unequal lengths and a 3-parted style. The 5 sepals cupping the flower are shorter than the floral tube, narrowly lance-linear with a pointed tip. Sepals and flower stalks are hairy and green or more often purplish.

Leaves and stems:

Leaves are evergreen, opposite or whorled, ¼ to ¾ inch long, lance-linear to awl-shaped with a pointed tip, stalkless, crowded on the stem, and often fringed with white hairs around the edge.

Stems are prostrate, somewhat woody, hairy, freely branched, rooting at the nodes and creating dense mats up to 3 feet in diameter, with the purplish flowering branches held erect or rising at the tip (decumbent).

Fruit:

Fruit is a capsule

Notes:

Native in the eastern US, Creeping Phlox has long been available in the nursery trade, primarily marketed as a ground cover and for rock gardens and border plantings, with dozens of cultivars of varying flower colors and petal shapes. It does occasionally escape cultivation and is considered adventive in New England, from Michigan west (including Minnesota), and south of Tennessee. We came upon it planted in a graveyard in Carlton County where it obviously took a liking and spread much farther than originally intended. It seems only a matter of time before it takes off down the road. That’s how these things sometimes manage to get into the wild. There are 3 varieties of Phlox subulata; they are not well documented but 2 apparently have limited ranges in the eastern US and may be glandular hairy, with var. subulata the most common and having non-glandular hairs.

Phlox: A Butterfly and Moth Magnet

by Claire Hagen Dole

North American Native

Imagine strolling through a cutting garden on a balmy summer day, basket and shears in hand. As you gather a bouquet of colorful flowers, you notice a tiger swallowtail sipping nectar from a fat cluster of pink blossoms. Soon you’re inhaling the plants sweet perfume, and you are as captivated by garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) as the butterflies, bumblebees and moths that pollinate it.

Although garden phlox (also called summer phlox) is the most common offering at nurseries, there are more than sixty species of phlox. All but one are North American natives (Phlox sibirica occurs in Siberia). Phlox can be tall, with thick, glossy leaves, or it can spread across the ground with needle-like leaves. It can be a midsummer sun-lover or bloom in shady woods in April. All forms have five petals, often with a colored eye, on a tubular base.

The genus name, Phlox, is derived from the Greek word for flame. Phlox is sometimes called flame flower because of its intense, hot colors.

Only one species (Phlox drummondii) is an annual. The bright red flowers of this Texas native attracted the attention of Thomas Drummond, a British naturalist, in the 1820s. He sent seeds to Europe, where the plant was bred into a variety of colors. It became a popular bedding plant, returning to charm Americans four decades later.

Garden phlox, introduced to England in 1730, didn’t recross the Atlantic until Victorian times. The wildflower of muddy-purple hue had been transformed into a sophisticated garden flower, available in shades of red, purple, pink or white. Today’s choices include a multitude of cultivars, bred for disease resistance or color, such as ‘Starfire’ (cherry-red) and ‘Prime Minister’ (white with red eye).

Span the Seasons

By choosing different phlox species, you can fill your garden with color from spring through late summer. Start with woodland phlox (P. divaricata), a Midwest native with periwinkle-blue flowers and glossy, lance-like leaves. A valuable early-season nectar source, it forms slowly-spreading clumps that make a good ground cover (to 18 high). Plant woodland phlox under flowering shrubs, in humus-rich soil. Very fragrant cultivars include the ice-blue ‘Clouds of Perfume’.

‘Chattahoochee’, a hybrid derived from woodland phlox and prairie phlox (P. pilosa), has fragrant lavender-blue flowers with a maroon eye. It forms a nice ground cover in a moderately sunny location, but is less happy when confined in a pot. ‘Chattahoochee’ blooms in late spring (to 1′ high); cut back after flowering for a neat appearance.

Creeping phlox (P. stolonifera), a ground cover (to 8″) that spreads by runners, is loaded with pink-to-purple blossoms in spring. After bloom ends, its hairy, rounded leaves stay attractive through even hot, steamy summers. Native to the deciduous woods of the East, creeping phlox likes moist, humus-rich soil in part shade. Look for ‘Bruce’s White’, ‘Pink Ridge’ or ‘Sherwood Purple’.

Alpine-garden plants that bloom in spring include moss phlox (P. subulata), a Northeast native, and the Northwest natives Douglas phlox (p. douglasii) and spreading phlox (P. diffusa). Tough and spiky, these creeping phloxes (to 6″) tolerate hot, dry conditions. Flower colors include pink, purple, blue and white; they have a faint, sweet scent and are attractive to early pollinators.

Wild Sweet William (P. maculata) blooms in early summer, with mounds of dark-pink blossoms (to 3′). Native to Appalachian states, it grows best in moist, rich soil, in full sun or partial shade. If deadheaded, it may bloom again in autumn. ‘Miss Lingard’, white with a pale-yellow eye, is sometimes listed as a cultivar of thick-leaved phlox (P. carolina). Often called wedding phlox because it blooms in June, ‘Miss Lingard’ made its debut almost a century ago.

Garden phlox (P. paniculata), native to the eastern half of the U.S., likes rich, well-drained soil and full to partial sunlight. Reaching as high as 5′, summer phlox puts on a colorful show for several weeks from mid- to late summer. Its sweet perfume lures a variety of butterflies, such as swallowtails, Painted Ladies, Great Spangled Fritillaries, sulphurs and skippers. Deadhead to prevent self-seeding, as volunteers will revert to less attractive colors. Divide the clump every few years and reset the young shoots from the clump’s edge into fresh, amended soil. Garden phlox is easy to propagate from cuttings.

Under the Moonlight

Butterflies, bumblebees and an occasional hummingbird may find phlox irresistible, but its charms aren’t restricted to these daytime pollinators. Hawkmoths may hover next to its blossoms from late afternoon to dusk. On summer evenings, as the sweet scent of phlox drifts across the garden, night moths may be drawn to the flowers. Although many phlox varieties are attractive to moths, those with pale-colored or white blossoms are true stars after dark.

The Mildew Question

Given phlox’s appeal to gardeners and visiting insects, how best to keep the dreaded powdery mildew at bay? Your locale, of course, has much to do with success: phlox in my Northwest garden won’t be as stressed as a similar plant in the humid South. Phlox varieties that bloom in spring and early summer are less likely to be troubled, since mildew strikes hardest in August and September.

Some gardening practices will help to minimize mildew infestation: plant in full sun; water at ground level instead of using a sprinkler; thin out stems to increase air movement; and remove infected foliage in the fall so mildew spores can’t overwinter.

New phlox cultivars, often touted as being mildew-resistant, appear in nursery catalogs each year. Are they superior to the antique varieties they displace? In The Heirloom Garden , Jo Ann Gardner states, “We are told that modern Phlox types are vastly improved over older kinds… but if you look around in older gardens, you will find an astonishing range of flowers doing very well, some growing on their own for sixty years or more, all beautiful and disease-resistant.”

Rachel Kane, of Perennial Pleasures Nursery, echoes this sentiment. “Some varieties are much less susceptible to mildew, particularly the older ones. By the 1940s there were over 220 named varieties available; most of these have sadly gone missing.” Kane emphasizes dividing plants regularly and watering adequately to prevent mildew. She is actively searching for old varieties and welcomes reader input.

Phlox Trials

Twenty phlox selections (half of them cultivars of P. paniculata) were grown at Chicago Botanic Garden in a recent four-year study of mildew resistance. Maintenance practices were kept to a minimum; plants were irrigated as needed, but no fertilizer or fungicides were applied. Plants were evaluated for overall appearance, bloom period, disease and pest resistance, cultural adaptability, and winter hardiness.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is currently testing eight new P. paniculata cultivars from Germany, including such intriguing selections as ‘Fliedertraum’ and ‘Rosa Goliath’. Another trial, initiated in May, will compare 30 P. paniculata cultivars (both old and new). Hawke is especially interested in evaluating the Spring Pearl Series, which is touted as being highly mildew-resistant. All have women’s names, such as ‘Miss Jill’ and ‘Miss Karen’.

Article by Claire Hagen Dole, Publisher/editor of Butterfly Gardeners’ Quarterly. Summer 2000.

Phlox Species, Creeping Phlox, Moss Phlox

View this plant in a garden

Category:

Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Foliage:

Evergreen

Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us

Height:

under 6 in. (15 cm)

Spacing:

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 °C (-40 °F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 °C (-35 °F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown – Tell us

Danger:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Color:

Magenta (pink-purple)

Fuchsia (red-purple)

Lavender

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

By simple layering

By stooling or mound layering

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama

Oakhurst, California

San Leandro, California

Parker, Colorado

Old Lyme, Connecticut

Ellendale, Delaware

Bradenton, Florida

Deltona, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Braselton, Georgia

Clarkesville, Georgia

Decatur, Georgia

Norcross, Georgia

Stone Mountain, Georgia

Tyrone, Georgia

Quincy, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Bloomington, Indiana

Fishers, Indiana

Sioux Center, Iowa

Barbourville, Kentucky

Covington, Louisiana

Franklin, Louisiana

Milton, Massachusetts

Eastpointe, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota(2 reports)

Marietta, Mississippi

Mathiston, Mississippi

Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Monett, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Franklin, New Hampshire

Manchester, New Hampshire

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Los Alamos, New Mexico

Ballston Lake, New York

Binghamton, New York

Brooklyn, New York

East Islip, New York

Wellsville, New York

Charlotte, North Carolina

Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Rowland, North Carolina

Minot, North Dakota

Akron, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

North Ridgeville, Ohio

Garber, Oklahoma

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Red Rock, Ontario

Altamont, Oregon

Ashland, Oregon

Baker City, Oregon

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Wisteria

Wisteria has a dense foliage making them perfect for shading and long pendant blooms which occur in early spring. The flowers are mauve to violet and are highly scented, adding a fresh fragrance to your outdoor area. Wisteria are also deciduous, which means they lose their leaves in winter, allowing the warming sun to come through

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Hardenbergia

An evergreen climber, Hardenbergia is an Australian native with dark green leaves and a flush of dark purple flowers. The most widely grown cultivar is the ‘Happy Wanderer’. Prune around August or September to create denser growth, so more shade, and to promote flowering in the following season.

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Ornamental Grape

Ornamental grape is similar to the wine growing variety, just without the fruit so it won’t make a mess of your entertaining area. Suitable for all parts of Australia except the tropical north, it has large green leaves over summer which turn to orange and red in autumn before dropping to let in the winter sun

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Star Jasmine

An evergreen climber, it has lush green foliage and delicate white flowers shaped like a star, hence the name. They’re also beautifully perfumed. It’s not an invasive grower but a light prune from time to time will keep it looking good.

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Bougainvillea

For a fast-growing climber with incredible flower colour, you can’t go past the Bougainvillea. Pink, red, orange and white are just a few of the flower colours you will find. During flowering, keep in control by selectively pruning the thorny shoots as they appear. In autumn, tidy them up with a prune, which will also serve them well for the next growing season.

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Phlox subulata Creeping Phlox, Moss Pink1

Edward F. Gilman and Carol Lord2

Introduction

The plant goes unnoticed during the year because it blends in with the grass and other surrounding parts of the landscape until flowers emerge in late winter and spring (Fig. 1). It is one of the signals that spring has arrived. Flower colors vary from red and lavender to pink and white, depending on the cultivar grown. Plants grow no more than about 6 inches tall, forming thick clumps and a good ground cover. The stiff leaves are narrow, growing to about an inch long and perhaps to 1/16 inch wide.

Figure 1.

Creeping phlox

General Information

Scientific name: Phlox subulata Pronunciation: flocks sub-yoo-LAY-tuh Common name(s): creeping phlox, moss pink, moss phlox Family: Polemoniaceae Plant type: perennial; annual; herbaceous USDA hardiness zones: 3B through 10 (Fig. 2) Planting month for zone 7: Jun; Jul Planting month for zone 8: May; Jun; Jul Planting month for zone 9: Apr; May; Jun; Jul; Aug Planting month for zone 10: Feb; Mar; Apr; May; Jun; Jul; Aug; Sep; Oct; Nov; Dec Origin: native to North America Uses: ground cover; cascading down a wall Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range Figure 2.

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

Description

Height: .5 to 1 feet Spread: depends upon supporting structure Plant habit: spreading; prostrate (flat) Plant density: moderate Growth rate: moderate Texture: fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate Leaf type: simple Leaf margin: entire Leaf shape: linear Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see Leaf type and persistence: deciduous Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches Leaf color: green Fall color: not applicable Fall characteristic: not applicable

Flower

Flower color: pink; lavender; white; red Flower characteristic: spring flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: unknown Fruit length: unknown Fruit cover: unknown Fruit color: unknown Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable Current year stem/twig color: reddish Current year stem/twig thickness: thin

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun Soil tolerances: acidic; alkaline; sand; loam; clay Drought tolerance: moderate Soil salt tolerances: poor Plant spacing: 12 to 18 inches

Other

Roots: not applicable Winter interest: no special winter interest Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding Invasive potential: aggressive, spreading plant Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Creeping phlox is suitable for rock gardens, ground covers, or for planting on top of a garden wall. Flowers and foliage will cascade down a container side, making a nice complement to an upright plant in the container. It makes a nice stabilizer for a sloping landscape.

Phlox should be located in the full sun for best growth. The plants benefit from fertilization and from regular irrigation in dry weather during the growing season. Cut the foliage back after flowering to encourage denser growth and perhaps a weak second flower display.

Cultivars include ‘Crimson Beauty’—red flowers; ‘Emerald Cushion’—pink flowers; ‘Millstream’—white with a crimson eye; ‘Millstream Daphne’—dark blue flowers; ‘White Delight’—white flowers.

Propagation is by division of non-woody stems in early spring. Stem cuttings may be taken in summer or fall.

Pests and Diseases

Mites cause the foliage to lose its green color, especially in dry weather. Heavy infestations form fine webbing.

Leaf spots attack the leaves. Remove infected leaves as you notice them.

Powdery mildew is the most common disease on this plant. The disease causes a white powdery growth on the leaves.

Crown rot may cause rotting near the soil line. A white fungal growth forms on the stem bases. Remove infected plants.

Footnotes

This document is FPS476, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Carol Lord, master gardener, UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Phlox stolonifera ‘Blue Ridge’ is a lovely mat forming perennial wildflower. Plants have evergreen oval or oblong deep green leaves. In late spring or early summer, foliage is crowned by loose clusters of showy clear blue flowers. This cultivar is a fine groundcover for partly shaded woodlands or gardens with moist well drained soil.

HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent species Phlox stolonifera occurs in the eastern United States in Maine and Vermont and from New York west to Ohio and south to Alabama. The parent species is indigenous to rich deciduous woodlands, stream banks, open woods and shaded rocky slopes mostly in the Appalachian Mountains.

This cultivar ‘Blue Ridge’ has sky blue flowers that are larger than the norm for this species.

Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 5-9.

PLANT DESCRIPTION: Phlox stolonifera ‘Blue Ridge’ is a diminutive stoloniferous groundcover that forms tight mats of semi-evergreen foliage.

Leafy stems creep along the ground and branch to form upright flowering stems.

The opposite leaves are oblong with smooth edges and blunt or pointed tips. Blades average 3” on sterile stems and ¾” on flowering stems.

Fertile stems terminate in showy rounded 6” flower cymes. Florets are fragrant with 5 flat sky blue petals. The petals are rounded and they flare from a narrow tube.

Blooming begins in mid-spring continuing until early summer. Small inconspicuous oval seed capsules follow.

Flowering stems rise to 8”. Plants spread to 2’ and gradually form colonies from short rhizomes and spreading leafy stems that root at the nodes.

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Phlox stolonifera ‘Blue Ridge’ flourishes in bright shade with moist rich well drained soil. Plants prefer slightly acid pH and tolerate drought, part sun and dry shade.

Plants are fairly pest resistant but need good air circulation and deadheading to prevent issues with powdery mildew. Spider mites can cause problems in hot dry sites. Slugs can become a pest in overly moist sites. Plants are somewhat resistant to deer but may be nibbled by rabbits.

The most difficult cultural issue with this cultivar is choosing a suitable site. In appropriate situations with some shade and very good drainage, plants are vigorous and very easy to grow.

This species often self-sows if conditions are good.

Plants benefit from an occasional fertilization and deadheading when flowers wane.

LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good Groundcover for a Perennial Border or Shade Garden. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. In mild climates attractive rosettes provide Winter Interest. Phlox stolonifera ‘Blue Ridge’ has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings and Rock Gardens.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Phlox stolonifera ‘Blue Ridge’ with Aquilegia canadensis, Carex albicans, Carex plantaginea, Heuchera americana ‘Dales Strain’, Dryopteris marginalis or Polystichum acrostichoides.

Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’ has similar appearance and culture and could be substituted in some situations.

TRIVIA: Phlox stolonifera ‘Blue Ridge’ provides valuable early season nectar for swallowtail butterflies, day flying sphinx moths (like hummingbird moths and clearwing moths) and hummingbirds.

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