Home Farm Equipment Garden phlox: Sweet smell of summer

Garden phlox: Sweet smell of summer


Aromas forge sturdy recollections. Take my first encounter with a aromatic native plant — backyard phlox. In highschool, I bear in mind strolling down the sidewalk, approaching lots of pink and white flowers rising alongside a picket fence, producing distinctive candy summer smells.

The perfume was so intoxicating that I feel of that 40-year-old reminiscence each summer when phlox is in bloom.

Garden phlox cultivars are prolific and customary in backyard facilities. However the native straight species isn’t. Sadly, the world of horticulture has neglected one of nature’s best items. As a straight species, this phlox in all fairness powdery mildew free, versus the various cultivars that carry out so poorly within the humid decrease Midwest.

Fundamentals of backyard phlox

Garden phlox grows partly shade to full solar, in poorly drained moist soils, or in well-drained dry areas within the backyard. Its best power is in its skill to colonize strongly on difficult-to-mow shady slopes and complement different strong-performing species equivalent to creek oats, smoothcone sedge, tough goldenrod, false sunflower, woodland knotweed, curlytop ironweed, yellow wingstem, obedient plant and Joe Pye weed.

It has the potential to unfold from seed and underground rhizomes. Particular person seedlings could also be clump-forming or suckering, so we search for clump formers and transplant them to the extra formal part of the backyard. As a result of birds don’t eat many of the seeds, we deadhead crops rising within the backyard when they’re completed blooming.

Though every phlox species varies broadly in vigor, soil and daylight necessities, they’ve one factor in widespread. They’re all nice on the nostril.

Sorts of backyard phlox

There are 5 widespread backyard phlox species that thrive in Missouri:

1. Wild candy William. These choose well-drained soils within the shade, and plenty of of our backyard soils are heavy clay, with less-than-perfect drainage. My favourite companion crops embody yellow honeysuckle, flowering dogwood, round-leaved groundsel, wild columbine, candy Cicely and celandine poppy.

2. Sand phlox. This blooms in March and April, with mild blue flowers (or lavender) and gold stamens. It doesn’t want sandy soil to develop effectively, however it does choose full solar and good drainage. Ours carry out properly in well-drained, common backyard soil. Sand phlox makes a fantastic addition to the highest of a retaining wall and between boulders and receives an aggressive ranking of 1. It additionally works effectively in container gardens. Sand phlox blooms in early spring and combines effectively with rose verbena and prairie pussytoes.

Scott Woodbury

PRETTY PAIR: Garden phlox planted alongside snow-on-the-mountain create a colourful and textured backyard pathway.

3. Downy phlox. These require well-drained soils in full solar to half shade. It really works effectively in rock gardens and the sting of a sidewalk or driveway, as a result of it grows wild in rocky areas. It blooms in midspring together with fireplace pink, western wallflower and fringed bluestar. Downy phlox is a short-lived perennial that comes up in new locations from seed, scoring a 3 on the aggressive scale. It is not going to be weedy, and the additional seedlings are at all times welcome in our backyard. Its shut relative, Ozark phlox, tolerates a a lot wider array of soil circumstances and is a more sensible choice for many backyard soils which have extra clay and half shade.

4. Meadow phlox. This can be a shut relative to backyard phlox, related in dimension and form, however has purple speckles on the stem and grows in wetlands. It’s a sensible choice for sunny, moist gardens as a result of it’s a lot much less aggressive (a 3).

5. Clean phlox. That is one other wet-tolerant species, which is a shortened model of meadow phlox, however with brilliant pink flowers and an aggression issue of 1 or 2. Each meadow and easy species are particularly helpful in rain gardens and moist gardens in full solar or half shade. Stems of easy phlox might flop over, so plant it subsequent to companions equivalent to swamp milkweed, palm sedge and hop sedge. 

My entire life, I’ve been enchanted by the distinctive and irresistible aroma of phlox, and plenty of different fragrant crops. I encourage you to attempt them as effectively. Comfortable gardening! 

Woodbury is the horticulturist and curator of the Whitmire Wildflower Garden at Shaw Nature Reserve in Grey Summit, Mo. He is also an adviser to the Missouri Prairie Basis’s Develop Native! program.


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