Friday, April 8, 2011

Gardening tip: Creeping phlox

You know that Spring is finally here, when one of the true season showstoppers finally flowers... ...Creeping Phlox. Personally, I love it. Great color, wonderful texture. Though the gorgeous blooms come and go as quickly as the Spring does here in St. Louis, Phlox provides brilliant Spring color and a nice, thick bed of ground cover for the rest of the growing season.

That being said, many people hate Creeping Phlox. H A T E. There are forums all over the Internet cursing creeping phlox and terming it a weed for the ability to overtake the garden and lackluster looks once the blooms brown up in early summer. Simply, these complainers are not using the plant properly.

Just as one wouldn't consider building their garden around other short term flowering perennial plants like tulips and daffodils, one shouldn't consider building their garden around phlox either. It is an aggressive ground cover, and true to it's name... it creeps. A LOT. In addition, once the blooms are gone, as is much of the beauty of Phlox.

Creeping Phlox is best used as an accent plant. Period. If plans are to use it in mass quantity for a HUGE punch of Spring color, the BEST use is in a small contained bed a top a retaining wall, where it has the room to show off the brilliant color and the amazing ability to quickly "creep" ... It is also lovely when dispersed in rock gardens, for a little punch of Spring color.... These usages tend to show off the plant the best, as once the blooms are lost (and the Phlox is pruned), it provides a hearty bed filler the rest of the growing season. Avoid the most COMMON misuse of Creeping Phlox... Sidewalk border= BAD idea! That is, unless you don't mind your sidewalk eventually disappearing?! ;) Ha! Instead, use it in little nooks of the garden, where the ability to creep and overtake is a visual asset, not a liability...

For more info about Creeping Phlox, click here.