Introducing the Phlox
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Several other flowers have been covered today, including the Wisteriaand the Orange Daylily. Continuing the theme of often-overlooked flowers, we present the Phlox genus of flowers. The Phlox family has dozens, if not hundreds, of dazzlingly colorful and hardy members, and each is native to the eastern half of North America.
Why would you want to include such a simple flower in your lawn, garden, or landscaping? Perhaps most importantly, Phlox plants are incredibly easy to grow, and though they spread relatively rapidly, they could not realistically be called aggressive. Many members of the Phlox genus are sweetly fragrant, some even fragrant enough to challenge the Wisteria, and most attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other well-known pollinators. Most members of the Phlox family are also pest and disease hardy... with the notable exception of the Garden Phlox, which can be prone to a powdery type of mildew. But of course, one of the most significant reasons anyone would want to include Phlox in their garden is the vast array of potential colors and color combinations!
Sweet William is well-known as the most fragrant of the phlox, and has a heavenly, sweet scent which can perfume a whole garden during those months it is in bloom. Sweet William is fairly short, topping out at 10 inches in the best conditions, and when cared for well its leaves can be semi evergreen. Most Sweet William tends to do best in full sun or partial shade, and is available in a range of colored cultivars.
Are you needing a taller flower for your garden or landscaping? Smooth Phlox is a great option! Smooth Phlox stands generally between 18 and 24 inches tall, and forms into clumps which can rapidly expand in optimum conditions. As with Sweet William, Smooth Phlox prefers a bit of sun. Smooth Phlox is also a great option if you want to have a flower which blooms a bit earlier in the season.
Garden Phlox has a lovely, strong scent which is a close second to the Sweet William, but is far superior to the Sweet William simply in terms of its super-long bloom period. Garden Phlox have dozens of different-colored cultivars, which include white, blue, pink, and other varieties. In particular, the early-blooming Davdi's Lavender and Blue Paradise are beyond compare, and can be in bloom as late as October. Many individuals shy away from including Garden Phlox because of the aforementioned mildew problem. However, it is easy to prevent mildew using a baking soda and oil mixture. Combine a small amount of baking soda with oil and spray it on the plants before the mildew can gain a foothold. Do this regularly and your plants will be mildew-free all year! The mixture is also organic, with no harsh chemicals.
Creeping Phlox is another wonderful Phlox, which can provide a fantastic, mat-like evergreen ground cover. Don't confuse Creeping Phlox with Moss Phlox! Creeping Phlox, unlike Moss Phlox, needs more shade, and flowers earlier in the spring- generally from March to May. And like other Phlox, their flowers are also fragrant... though less so than the Sweet William and Garden Phlox! Some of the best cultivars are the Sherwood Purple, which spreads rapidly, and the Home Fires, which is pinkish and blooms very early!
If you want the maximum amount of flowers, however, always opt for Moss Phlox. Moss Phlox blooms so abundantly that you can hardly see the greenery beneath the petals when it blooms in late spring. Moss Phlox requires full or partial sunlight, and is great for blocking out weeds and as a ground cover. Moss Phlox is also great for areas with thin soil, because its roots grow in a shallow mat.
Honestly, the final word is that all the Phlox are quite wonderful! There are so many colorful cultivars that you can have them in virtually any color, and of course, they're all good, hardy, native plants!