Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) bloom in summer when so many spring things have given up to the heat.
This phlox is a native American as well as the thrift that blooms in spring and the lovely little prairie phlox that brightens our roadsides in April. How blessed we are to have these beauties abounding in yards as well as roadsides and hillsides all across America.
Garden phlox in its native wild form is this beautiful bright, magenta which is so beautiful in summer plantings. Some folks don’t like the wild color so botanists have done lots of work to change the colors in these phlox. We have a huge clump of a cultivar called “John Fanick” in the IDEA Garden and the Heritage Garden in the Tyler Rose Garden. John Fanick is light pink with a deep pink center. Many other colors are on the market as well. There are two beautiful white ones, “David” and “Mt. Fuji,” as well as orchids, purple and even some that are variegated. All are beautiful, but I am still drawn to the natural color.
Garden phlox are grown throughout East Texas. They are so easy. Just give them a place in the sun or part shade. They will even grow in a good bit of shade and bloom well. Fairly drought tolerant, these plants will wilt when extremely dry, and that is the time to water them well.
Sometimes mildew is a problem, but usually when they are in a bed up against a building or crowded in with other things that block the air movement. Give them plenty of room where the air can move freely through them and you will seldom have trouble with mildew. John Fanick is particularly mildew resistant.
Butterflies love these old-time beauties, and so do hummingbirds. Planting flowers that draw pollinators is highly recommended in order to increase their populations.
Phlox grow in an ever-increasing clump. They seed out as well and the seedlings that come up will nearly always be the native color. If you do not want them to seed out, just keep the old flower heads clipped off. This will also allow them to keep blooming from branching buds. Phlox of any kind are delightful to have in a garden and the old-time garden phlox are no exception.
Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about plants growing within the Tyler Rose Garden.