Phlox contains sixty-seven species and has fragrant flowers that come in pale blue, violet, pink, red, and white. There are many individual flowers arranged into a common head on each plant. The head is typically spherical in shape. These plants are known to only produce one seed. The tall garden phlox can grow up to three feet tall but there are dwarf varieties that are much smaller on maturity. Most of these taller plants are sweetly perfumed.
Many of the plants will bloom in mid-summer although some do not bloom until August. Phlox does not survive deep freezes and therefore does not always survive the winter. Phlox is a perennial flower.
Growing Requirements for Phlox Flowers
Tall garden phlox requires full sunlight but can tolerate a small amount of shade. The plant also needs good air circulation in order to fight diseases. It is important to try not to plant the phlox near any large shrubs or trees because the flower does not do well with intense competition. Phlox desires well drained soil full of organic material.
Taking Care of Phlox
Phlox needs to be kept moist and thus should be watered regularly and thoroughly. It is critical that the soil is watered directly and not the tops in order to prevent disease spread. It would be prudent to lay down some mulch to help the soil retain optimal moisture levels when the weather is dry and hot. This will also help with weeds. Removing dead or wilting heads from the phlox plant will help to produce more robust heads and to keep them the original color as phlox has a tendency to change into a pale magenta.
History and Uses of Phlox
American Indians used to use Prairie Phlox in medicines. However, this particular strain of phlox disappeared from the prairies of North Dakota after European settlers destroyed the prairie sod. If the phlox is found in North Dakota, it is normally by a set of train tracks or in the remnants of what was the wild prairie. Phlox does not typically grow east of Minnesota and can still be found in the wild in many eastern parts of the United States.
Phlox Flowers: Diseases and Pests
Powdery mildew is the biggest problem facing the phlox garden plant. This disease leaves disfiguring spots on the plant’s foliage. If left unchecked, the disease will destroy any green part of the plant before destroying the flower. At the first site of infection, fungicide treatments should be started to prevent the disease from spreading to all other plants.
The largest problem facing the phlox plant in terms of insects is the spider mite. These pests feast on the liquids inside the plant causing small spots of discoloration. However, strong, healthy plants are typically better suited to handling spider mite infestations. If the problem does persist, insecticide treatments can usually handle the situation.
Additional Information on Phlox
Additional information on the phlox plant can be found on the following websites:
Iowa State University Extension covers Perennial Phlox for Home Landscapes
University of Illinois Extension covers Garden Phlox