After a long cold winter, gardeners are starved for color in the garden. Spring blooming Phlox is one of the first perennials to greet us with colorful flowers. When I mention spring blooming Phlox, most people think of Phlox subulata, commonly called Creeping Phlox. But there are other fantastic Phlox that are just as effective at shattering the winter blues.
Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata) This native Phlox has delightfully fragrant flowers. When in flower it reaches 12” to 18”. After blooming, shear it to within a few inches of the ground to stimulate new growth that forms an attractive mat. Woodland Phlox grows in sun to part shade and is hardy in Zones 3-8. (pictured above Phlox d. ‘Blue Moon’)
Creeping Woodland Phlox (Phlox stolonifera) Creeping Woodland Phlox is native to wooded areas in the Appalachian Mountains. Pink, lavender-blue or white flowers are carried on wiry stems above a 3” foliage carpet. Creeping Woodland Phlox makes a fantastic weed-suppressing ‘living mulch’, thanks to its dense overlapping leaves. It grows in sun to part shade and is hardy in Zone 5 – 9. (pictured Phlox s. ‘Home Fires’)
Phlox Hybrids like Phlox x ‘Violet Pinwheels’ This spring blooming phlox is a cross between two species, Phlox bifida and Phlox kelsyi. The result is a deep purple flowering beauty on lower foliage mounds than Creeping Phlox, plus it does not spread as quickly. It gets its name from the notched, upturned petals that supposedly look like tiny pinwheels, especially when the wind blows. I confess, I failed to see this ‘resemblance’ when I planted ‘Violet Pinwheels’ in my garden. It really needs full sun to do its best, plus sharp drainage. It will not tolerate wet soils. Hardy in Zones 4- 8. Pictured below.
Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) This is the species that most folks know. There are many cultivars available. Flowers can be pink, magenta, purple-blue, white and bi-color. Creeping Phlox does best in sun to part sun and is hardy in Zones 2 – 9.
Estabrook’s in Yarmouth and Kennebunk, ME (where I work) will be carrying all of these tough, no-fuss spring bloomers. If you are in the area later this spring, please stop by and pick out your favorites!