Fill your gardens with color from spring through summer and even into fall with a variety of pollinator-friendly phlox. The beauty, diversity and usefulness in the garden of this group of plants had the National Garden Bureau declare 2022 Year of the Phlox.
Start out the growing season with creeping phlox (Phlox subulata). This low growing phlox is perfect for rock gardens, as a groundcover or planted at the front of a perennial garden. Grow it in full sun with well-drained soil in zones three to nine. Once the flowers fade, shear the plants back halfway to encourage attractive new growth that will last all season long.
Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) is native to Midwestern woods and fields and hardy in zones three to eight. The periwinkle blue flowers add some welcome color to shady spots in spring. Grow it in moist rich soil and watch for hummingbirds and butterflies that visit the blooms.
The Garden Club of America named Blue Moon woodland phlox its plant of the year, awarding it with the 2022 Montine McDaniel Freeman Horticulture Award. This award is given to native underutilized plants with superior ecological and ornamental attributes. Their goal is to increase the use of these plants in gardens. Blue Moon is mildew resistant, long blooming and like the species is an early source of pollen for native bees, swallowtail butterflies and nectar for the hummingbirds.
Downy or prairie phlox (Phlox pilosa) is another North American native phlox that can be found in prairies and is hardy in zones three to nine. The pale pink to purple-pink blossoms appear in spring. Grow it in full sun with moist to well-drained loam or sandy soils. Like other phlox, it attracts and supports butterflies and hummingbirds.
Marsh phlox (Phlox globerrima) is native to wet prairies and open woodlands and thrives in moist soil and even damp clay. The intense magenta flowers appear June to July and are a hummingbird magnet. Grow this phlox in zones four to eight.
The North American native tall garden phlox has long been popular with gardeners. It blooms mid-season, adding color and height to any garden bed or mixed border. The perfectly round flower clusters top each stem and come in a variety of colors from white to pink, purple, salmon and more. Grow these in full sun with moist, rich well-drained soil.
The flowers of many tall phlox varieties are fragrant, attract pollinators and make great cut flowers. Remove faded flowers and provide sufficient moisture and nutrients to encourage more blooms. The Fashionably Early series of tall phlox bloom early and for a long period with rebloom in fall.
Grow tall phlox in full sun, provide sufficient space and avoid overhead watering to reduce the risk of powdery mildew. Select mildew resistant varieties like LUMINARY™, Opening Act, Sweet Summer and Super Ka-pow to reduce the risk of this disease.
Consider adding a variety of phlox plants to your garden this season or next. You and the pollinators will appreciate the long season of beautiful flowers, pollen, and nectar.
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including the recently released “Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition” and “Small Space Gardening”. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD instant video series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and her website is www.MelindaMyers.com.