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Phlox: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Phlox Flowers | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Phlox

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Phlox
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How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Phlox

The Editors
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Phlox are perennials and a favorite choice—from ground cover that blooms in early spring to the tall phlox that bloom in mid- to late summer. Learn more about how to grow and care for the phlox in your garden!

About Phlox

These plants sport many star-shaped, colorful flowers when in bloom. Because there are so many varieties and types (many of which are native to North America), you can find a phlox for almost any garden. Truly, their versatility can’t be overstated. 

  • Low-growing or creeping phlox work great as ground cover.
  • Tall phlox are excellent as a colorful backdrop.
  • Medium-height varieties can fill in any gaps!

Plus, phlox are low maintenance and have a lovely fragrance. 

Planting

Because there are so many different types of phlox, sunlight requirements vary. Tall garden phlox do best in full sun, while woodland species thrive in partial shade. (See Recommended Varieties, below, for more information!)

In general, phlox prefer soil that is nutrient rich and evenly moist. They do not like to sit in wet soil, however. Use a garden fork or tiller to prepare your garden bed prior to planting. Loosen the soil to about 12 to 15 inches deep, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost to improve soil consistency and fertility.

When to Plant Phlox

How to Plant Phlox

  • It is easier to grow phlox from cuttings/transplants than from seeds, although established plants will readily spread by seed in the garden.
  • Space plants according to their mature size.
  • If you are transplanting a plant from a pot, dig a hole about twice the size of the pot’s diameter and place the plant so that the top of the root ball is even with the soil’s surface. Fill in around the root ball and remember to water it thoroughly.

Phlox

Growing
  • If you receive less than 1 inch of rain a week, remember to regularly water your plants throughout the summer.
  • Each spring, put a thin layer of compost and a 2-inch layer of mulch around the plants to help keep the soil moist and control weeds.
  • Remember to remove the dead/faded flowers so that your plants can rebloom.
  • If you have tall phlox, cut the stems back to about 1 to 2 inches above the soil after the first killing frost in the fall. (See local frost dates.) Divide tall garden phlox every 2 to 3 years to ensure healthy and disease-free plants.
Wit and Wisdom
  • April’s full Moon has traditionally been called the “Full Pink Moon” because it heralded the appearance of the “moss pink,” or wild ground phlox—one of the first spring flowers.
Pests/Diseases
  • Powdery mildew is common; keep proper air circulation in mind when spacing out plants and avoid getting excess water on the foliage. Cutting back stems after flowering can also help to reduce the spread of powdery mildew, as can choosing mildew-resistant varieties.
  • Stem canker
  • Rust
  • Southern blight
  • Stem nematodes
  • Leaf spots
  • Leaf miners
  • Caterpillars

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