Creeping phlox is one of the early perennials that springs forth from our gardens. There’s a creeping variety for every climate. You can get a good idea of the color by looking at the Easter basket the bunny left, and you will be able to predict what to expect.
There are two kinds of mat-forming, low growing, spring-flowering, must-have phlox: one for the sun and one for shade (yes, even shade). Today I will give them both their due.
Phlox subulata is the one with the most famous and is most well-known. It is also known as “moss pinks,” “thrift pinks,” or simply creeping phlox.
This phlox is very hardy in zones 3 to 9. It loves to soak up the sun. Creeping phlox is a perennial garden resident. It can also be found in rock gardens and stone paths as a border plant in butterfly plants.
The evergreen leaves form a mat that is approximately 4 to 5 inches tall when it is in bloom and 15 to 20 inches wide.
The spring carpet produced by creeping phlox (Phlox Subulata) is colorful and pastel in hue. It is unnecessary to have any special knowledge about how to plant creeping phlox and how to care for it.
Creeping phlox can be grown over a rockery or in difficult soil conditions to provide a ground cover or cascading almost carefree plant. It can be grown between pavers, in planters, or as part of a brightly lit spring bed.
Creeping Phlox Information
Creeping phlox has a semi-evergreen habit and a perennial nature. The plants have needle-like leaves with five-pointed, starry flowers that are red, purple, pink, white, or bluish-purple. Creeping Phlox flowers in spring and have long, spreading stems that become woodier as they age.
These thicker growths stop producing flowers and can be removed to encourage newer, more delicate stems to bloom. The plant can grow to 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) in height. The plant is 2 feet tall with a spread of 0.6 meters.
Fertilize regularly with a balanced fertilizer and remove faded flower clusters to prolong bloom and prevent unwanted, inferior seedlings. Protect with a mulch in winter.
Similar in appearance but earlier blooming is Arends Phlox, which bloom in June and show good mildew resistance. The Spring Pearl series grows 18 to 22 inches and with regular deadheading will bloom most of the summer. The flower color may be white, pink, lavender, or red.
Carolina Phlox grows 2 to 3 feet tall and produces fragrant, long-lasting purple, pink or white flowers on graceful stems from June to early July.
It is mildew-resistant and does especially well in hot summers. The white-flowering variety Miss Lingard is especially fragrant. Plant in full sun in rich, moist soil.
Smooth Phlox can be used as a ground cover, as its smooth green foliage grows only 4 to 6 inches tall. Its large flowers resemble those of Tall Phlox and are borne profusely on 18-inch stems from June to August.
This plant does best in light shade in rich, moist soil. Cut it back lightly after flowering to maintain a tidy appearance.
It is hard to beat Moss Pink (Phlox subulata) for a bright carpet of white, pink, red, or lavender-blue from April to May.
Its semievergreen foliage grows only 4 to 6 inches tall and is perfect in rock gardens, as a ground cover, or for trailing over walls.
Nettleton’s Variation is an unusual variety with pink flowers and fine, variegated green and cream foliage. Moss Pink prefers sun in well-drained soil of average fertility and should be cut back after flowering to encourage new growth.
Wild Blue Phlox is another alternative for the shade. From late April until June it produces fragrant blue or white flowers on wispy stems over mounds of dark green semi-evergreen foliage.
Plant the very fragrant lavender-flowered variety Clouds of Perfume near a walk or doorway to savor its delicious fragrance.
Creeping Phlox Planting Instructions
It is easy to care for creeping Phlox and how to plant it. The creeping phlox is easy-going and can thrive in all kinds of environments. As long as the soil is full sun to part shade, creeping phlox can be grown in almost any soil.
Plant it in a sunny place where the soil is well-drained and moist to get the best results. To enrich the soil, add organic soil amendments and water the plant until it becomes established.
Avoid burying the stem in the soil. These easy planting instructions will give you years of spring color with creeping phlox.
Care for Creeping Phlox
Creeping phlox requires little extra care. To encourage new growth and flowering, fertilizer should be applied in the spring. Even established plants need to be watered in hot summer months.
Plants living near rockeries might experience scorching from the heat. To encourage a second flower, the stems can be cut back immediately after flowering. To prevent creeping phlox from returning to its original state, it is possible to cut the stems back in winter.
This will allow the plant to rejuvenate and produce newer, more compact stems. It is important to keep your plant healthy by watching for pests such as mites or other insects and using organic insecticide soap to get rid of them as soon as you spot them.
Creeping Phlox Propagation
To make it easier to grow creeping phlox plants, the plant can be divided. You can remove the plant from the ground but keep the root ball. Use a spade or sharp soil knife to cut through the middle of the plant.
Place one-half of your phlox back in the original hole. Then, plant the other half wherever you desire more colorful ground cover. You can repeat the process every few years to make your plants healthier.
You can also use stem cuttings for rooting in the summer or fall. These can be dipped in plant hormones and placed in a soilless medium to root.