Phantastic Flox

I’ll try not to go on too long.  Phlox paniculata is one of my favorite flowers and it’s blooming now, and although my garden doesn’t give the best conditions for amazing phlox (rich soil, even moisture, maybe some afternoon shade) it gives me good enough phlox.  Phlox (along with snowdrops and cyclamen)  have always been among my favorites, and now that I have the room I might as well indulge myself.  Here are a couple that are making me happy right now 🙂

phlox nicky and laura

From the left it’s ‘Laura’, darker ‘Nicky’, and random pink and white seedlings.

I will grow just about any phlox I can get my hands on but should really start to show a little self control…. or not.  I love working in the vegetable patch when the breeze has that nice spicy phlox perfume on it.  The hummingbirds and butterflies seem to appreciate it too.

phlox seedling

This white phlox seedling is one of my favorites, nothing really special, but it’s so reliable. The pink is also a seedling and I like the color but it doesn’t bloom as long as some of the others. I keep it mostly for the odd darker centered leaves… which look slightly diseased when I think on it, but it’s all mine so it’s special.

I know all the books say to deadhead and rip out stray seedlings which sprout since they will overrun your better named phlox, but I’m a little funny about just accepting what people tell me…. plus I’m curious to see if they’ll really all turn out as ugly as the books say (I do still read books btw).  Last year this one was a little congested and washed out,  I almost tossed it and now I’m glad I didn’t.  The cooler weather this summer has brought out some nicer color, and a leaner diet has left it with neater flower heads and I’m again seeing some of the qualities that made me single it out in the first place.  I love the height too, it’s close to five feet.

tall garden phlox

No-name phlox, still nice with it’s white centers and a color that just about matches the verbena bonariensis behind it.

Nearly all my phlox look a little sickly due to a dry spring and summer which really brought on the spider mites.  Spraying them off with the water hose and a little fertilizer seems to have discouraged the mites but the damage remains in the form of yellowed and spotty leaves.  Strangely enough my variegated ‘Nora Leigh’ has the nicest leaves of all, which surprises me since variegated plants are always supposed to be a little weaker compared to the regular version.

phlox nora leigh

Green grass would be a nicer backdrop for the foliage of ‘Nora Leigh’ but I guess the neighboring fig leaves will have to do.

I’ve been obsessing a bit on the darker colored varieties.  ‘Starfire’ is supposed to be especially bright and I think that’s what this is.  I don’t know how the mite damaged leaves can support all the bloom it has but they do and I’m glad for it.

phlox paniculata seedlings

‘Starfire’ (maybe?) is definitely bright and probably shouldn’t be right next to white, but it happens. I’m thinking next year it deserves an extra serving of compost for this wonderful performance in the face of adversity.

I’ve been adding new ones here and there.  This spring I ordered a nice batch from Perennial Pleasures up in Vermont and was generally pleased with the plants I received.  One died a few days after I got it, but I didn’t even bother complaining since I was so happy to have finally found a place which has such an awesome selection of phlox online.  Hmmm, I wonder if another order this fall would be too soon 🙂

phlox blue paradise

Phlox ‘blue paradise’ is a new one and it’s of the kind that change their color throughout the day. Cool mornings give a rich blue shade which fades to violet as the day heats up.

My local nursery is pretty good about having a few new phlox each year so they tend to follow me home whenever I make a visit.  Here’s ‘Blushing Shortwood’ which joined me last summer… and then spent most of the year sitting in its pot on the driveway.  I’m glad to see it hasn’t held this against me.

phlox blushing shortwood

Phlox ‘blushing shortwood’ with it’s nicely bicolored blooms. The pink seems to fade as the thermometer rises but it’s still a nice flower.

I have a few others but don’t want to overdo it so I’ll stop here.  There’s always next year to do it again, and maybe by then I will have turned the entire tropical garden into a phlox field.  Now there’s an idea 🙂

Have a great week!

18 comments on “Phantastic Flox

  1. Christina says:

    I can see why you love them Frank, the deep blues are a lovely pure colour and I like the bi-colour pink too.

    • bittster says:

      The bicolor is interesting in how it changes from week to week depending on the temperatures.
      I should try cutting a few but I’m too stingy. They have a candy colored palette that doesn’t always fit with the bright golds and yellows of the rest of my summer garden, but would look great in the house.

  2. Cathy says:

    The last one is especially lovely, and I do like the blues and violety shades. I did have some Phlox a few years ago and found them very difficult to grow – too much sun or drought and they looked so singed and straggly. But the flowers are lovely. You must have green fingers to get them looking so happy… I can see it must have been hot and dry by your grass. Ours has survived so far, mainly because it is full of weeds which seem to withstand the heat better!

    • bittster says:

      Once things began to dry out I started a watering routine, unfortunately the spider mites had already moved in….
      I think having a heavy soil helps and I think the phlox prefer it. If only I had more compost to go around, that would be the icing on the cake.
      -as far as it looking good, the pictures leave out much of the uglier sections of phlox, and even the weeds in the lawn are losing their spirit now that it’s really getting dry.

  3. LOVE your Phlox! They are one of my must haves and I have tried a number of times to grow them and they just die out on me. They grow in the spring and get ready to bloom and then turn yellow and die. They are an aweful tease. My favorites are Bright Eyes and David. I love the color on Bushing Shortwood. Thank you for sharing!

    • bittster says:

      and thanks for commenting! I wish your phlox hadn’t of cheated you so, it sounds like they either love you or hate you, or in my case tolerate you…
      I also love bright eyes and oddly enough for as popular as David is I don’t have it! I tend to go for the reds more, but I think now I’ve overdone it since nearly all the new ones are some kind of reddish tone…. oh well! Worse problems could be had 🙂

  4. Chloris says:

    Well, all I can say is that they are all gorgeous and I an green with envy. Because I just can’t grow them. It is just too dry here. I have tried and they look so depressed that they had to go. I particularly like ‘ Blushing shortwood’ – fabulous!.

    • bittster says:

      I have to admit most of my luck with phlox comes from taking large patches of vegetable garden away from more useful plants such as pole beans. Having them all in a patch that gets regular watering makes a huge difference. I wouldn’t be able to face depressed plants every day which is how they look in other, more neglected parts of the garden.
      I’m going to become downright smug if I hear of another plant which does better over here!

  5. Pauline says:

    I’m still waiting for my phlox to flower, I have only one, a white one. If that seems to like the garden here, I will then take the plunge and buy some more different ones. You have some beautiful colours there, I’m not surprised you are so pleased with them.

    • bittster says:

      I had an aunt who used to grow beautiful phlox. We would visit for a few weeks in the summer, so phlox season always brings back great memories and pleases me.
      The white phlox are some of my favorites. I have a few throughout the garden which have come up on their own and I never pull them out.

  6. I have the pinks flower and the whites are just starting. I am like you and have quite a few varieties. I love them at this time of year but never had the issue with the getting out of hand in the garden. The whites did travel a bit, but since in a shady, dry location they stay well behaved. My problem as you mention is they don’t get enough moisture. If watered everyday like the gardeners do on Garden Walk Buffalo, my phlox would be as stunning. I like it with the verbena. That makes a nice textural combo.

    • bittster says:

      You’re right about the phlox mixed with the verbena being a nice combo. I saw in one of your Buffalo posts the gardener had mixed phlox with perovskia, that’s a similar look and one I would do out front, but it’s just too dry and never lasts.
      I have one or two varieties which put out runners and do spread a little. I think it’s entirely down to the variety, most of mine are pretty restrained though.

  7. Layanee says:

    I do love phlox and especially the tall paniculatas. How is it that you have no powdery mildew on your plants? Good job!

    • bittster says:

      Don’t congratulate me too quickly, some of the new varieties I’ve added this year have some mildew problems. I think it’s mostly because they dry out too much in the new spot.
      Keeping them fertilized and watered seems to help….. plus it’s very open here and the breeze probably helps more at keeping the mildew at bay.

  8. Your phlox are beautiful – I definitely think this fall is not too soon to order more. I especially like the ‘Blushing Shortwood’. I don’t grow many phlox for some reason – the only one I have is ‘Miss Lingard’.

    • bittster says:

      I do have an awful lot of new reds. I should really get some other colors to balance them out. Fall it is!
      Miss Lingard is a very nice one, it’s supposed to have nicer foliage, but mine used to dry out and didn’t really carry that torch well.

  9. pbmgarden says:

    I don’t think one can have too many phlox. Yours are so gorgeous Frank. I’ve only managed to consistently grow a pink one, when I’d really rather have the blues, purple and whites you show. Great post.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Susie, I also like the purples and blues in the garden, they seem to go better with all the summer colors. The vegetable garden is a good place for all the candy colored reds and pinks. They remind me of the colors of the candy “Good & Plenty” 🙂

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