Growing Creeping Phlox for Sensational Ground Cover
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- Written by Holly Hughes on July 31, 2022
What we love about creeping phlox is that it isn’t just functional, it’s ornamental too! An amazing and hardy low-growing plant that offers fantastic ground cover, creeping phlox flowers just so happen to be showstoppers in themselves.
In fact, the name ‘phlox’ originates from the Greek word for ‘flame’ – a reference to the sensationally vibrant pink, purple, red, bluish-lavender, and white flowers that burst like five-petaled stars from the needle-like foliage.
Native to North America and with April’s new moon named after it, creeping phlox is the perfect low-maintenance plant for your sunny garden, border, or rockery. Keep reading to discover how to plant phlox at home!
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When to plant phlox
The best time to plant creeping phlox is either in spring or fall. If planting in spring, hold off putting your creeping phlox in the ground until the soil has warmed, is easily workable and any risk of frost has passed.
For fall planting, it is instead important to make sure your creeping phlox is in the ground several weeks before you expect the first frost.
Whether you are planting in spring or fall, one thing you must make sure of is that you don’t let the roots dry out, keeping the soil they’re in nice and moist until you’re ready to plant this creeping shrub.
How far apart to plant creeping phlox
Given this is a shrub that likes to spread itself far and wide, spacing of creeping phlox is crucial. To allow each plant to have space to grow to its full potential, plant creeping phlox around 15 inches to 2 feet apart.
It’s also an idea to plant them in staggered rows to further facilitate better growth. More space also means better air circulation that will reduce any chance of mildew.
Where to plant creeping phlox
With the carpet-like growth and ground cover creeping phlox provides, this plant is ideal for putting between pavers. Its hardiness and starry blossoms equally make it perfect for rock gardens.
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This creeping shrub also works well in the cracks of stone walls, adding a vibrant and rustic element to hardscape garden features. Combined with its lavender and blue shades, creeping phlox is therefore the perfect addition to aGreek-style garden which revels in stone wall features and blue-hued flowers.
How to grow creeping phlox
A herbaceous creeping perennial that blooms in summer, gradually growing leggy and long with spreading runners, creeping phlox couldn’t be easier to grow.
Flowering in early summer, this plant just needs full sun and well-drained soil that is rich and loamy to flourish.
Once you’ve chosen your location that meets the necessary soil and sun conditions, plant your creeping phlox at soil level by keeping the root ball level with the ground and preventing the stem from being completely buried in the ground.
With a good watering, your creeping phlox should be well on its way to flourishing!
Don’t forget that you don’t need to be green-thumbed to enjoy the colorful and starry joy of summer blooms! Ordering a luscious bouquet from FromYouFlowers or signing up to a monthly and seasonal subscription service like BloomsyBox will ensure you get farm-fresh flowers delivered straight to your door!
Does phlox need full sun?
Creeping phlox does do best in full sun though it can tolerate and thrive in partial shade. Be sure to bear this in mind when planting to avoid placing it in a shaded spot where it won’t be able to last.
How to care for creeping phlox
Creeping phlox care couldn’t be easier! While young plants, it is important to water these shrubs regularly but once established, creeping phlox is pretty hardy and doesn’t need much watering. As it does not do well in waterlogged soil, be sure to remain restrained when watering to avoid rot.
Having said this, even the most drought tolerant plants could do with some extra watering during particularly hot summer days (especially if planted in full sun locations) with rockeries being particularly susceptible to scorching flowers. Bear this in mind and give your creeping phlox some extra hydration if it’s looking a little parched.
Fertilizing can also go a long way with creeping phlox if applied early. Show it some love by giving it a fresh layer of garden fertilizer each spring.
In terms of pruning, you’ll be delighted to know you can get away with the lightest touch of maintenance. If you’d like to get a second flowering, then it’s necessary to cut stems back after the first blooming. Otherwise, you can trim the plant infrequently in winter to maintain it and get it ready to bloom fierce and floral the following spring.
In terms of pest issues, creeping phlox is vulnerable to mite infestations so keep an eye on your plants and treat them immediately with an organic insecticidal soap or other if you spot these pests.
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How to look after creeping phlox in winter
The theme of low-maintenance care for creeping phlox continues in wintertime. This shrub is hardy in USDA zones 3-9 and can survive freezing temperatures so not too much is needed to look after it.
For areas with regular snow and freezing temperatures, cover creeping phlox with a layer of mulch before the first frost.
In terms of cutting back, you can either do so after blooming in the fall to avoid reseeding or wait until after the first freeze to cut back any remaining stems.
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