How to Grow and Care for Creeping Phlox

A Tale of Two Species: Phlox stolonifera and Phlox subulata

A name like “creeping phlox” might not sound particularly inspiring.

In fact, when I first heard of it, I was pretty sure that it wasn’t going to be a particularly pretty plant at all.

But with bright purple, pink, white, and blue stars of flowers set against vibrant green foliage, it’s clear that the name doesn’t do justice to this delightful candy-colored plant (and perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge!).

Vertical image of pink and white creeping phlox flowers, printed with green and white text at the midpoint and bottom of the frame.

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And the good news doesn’t stop there. A low-growing, easygoing, evergreen perennial that grows happily in tough places, creeping phlox is the perfect option to bring a splash of color to a rock garden, or for a cascading cover over stone walls.

In fact, both types are up to the task. There are actually two different species that go by this common name.

So, if you’re looking for a flowering ground cover that is both beautiful and easy to grow, look no further!

Cultivation and Historical use

Creeping phlox, P. stolonifera,and moss phlox, P. subulata, are both perennials originating from North America, and both are firm favorites among gardeners.

Pink five-pointed creeping phlox flowers with small green leaves, growing over and between large brown rocks.

And clearly, gardeners aren’t the only fans of this plant. Native Americans even named April’s full moon – the “Full Pink Moon” – after the flower, heralding the arrival of the swathes of purple and pink which, as early bloomers, signify the start of spring.

The vibrancy of this plant is even reflected in its name – the genus name phlox is derived from the Greek word meaning “flame,” referring to the intense color of its flowers.

Phlox stolonifera vs. Phlox subulata

When I was first researching this plant, I got a bit confused as to which phlox species was the “true” creeping phlox. I found that, technically speaking, P. stolonifera is a “creeping phlox” and P. subulata is a “moss phlox.” But that thanks to the fact that both species are remarkably similar, both in appearance and in biology, the two common names are often used interchangeably.

Both are semi-evergreen ground cover plants that bloom with beautiful flowers in spring. That being said, there are a few notable differences between the two.

For instance, P. subulata only reaches a height of around 6 inches, whereas P. stolonifera can grow to around double that.

Pink and purple examples of Plox subulata in bloom.
P. subulata requires full sun and reaches just 6 inches tall. Making it the ideal border plant where you might need low ground cover to fill a space.

P. subulata also has much more needle-like leaves, wheres P. stolonifera has more of a mixed foliage.

However, the main difference between the two is that, whilst P. stolonifera tolerates partial shade, P. subulata is very much a sun-seeker (I can empathize with this), and so only thrives in full sunlight.

Pale lavender-pink creeping phlox cascading over a brown rock wall, with an evergreen shrub growing in the background.
P. stolonifera is good with partial shade and can reach up to 12 inches in height.

Both are such similar plants that they are often confused. If I really had to choose between the two, I’d say P. subulata might just about win out as a ground cover, thanks to that fact that it’s shorter and tends to bloom more densely. But both options can bring beauty to the garden, when planted under the right conditions.

An Easygoing but Disorderly Ground Cover

Both phlox species are not particularly fussy, although they prefer well drained, humus-rich soil.

Growing only 3-8 inches  tall (7-20 centimeters), but spreading as wide as 9 inches up to 2 feet (22-60 centimeters), creeping phlox is an ideal ground cover and companion plant.

Although it is perfectly at home on flat land, to appreciate this plant in all its colorful glory, it might be best to place it on a slope, where the blooms can be properly seen and enjoyed.

Lavender creeping phlox provides a blooming ground cover, cascading over rocks in a garden with green foliage growing low to the ground.

Slopes also provide an ideal home for phlox for two other reasons:

1. It tends to favor well-drained soils.

2. It’s well known for helping to prevent erosion, making it perfect for growing in more sensitive areas like slopes.

There is one thing to watch out for when planting. As the name suggests, this is a plant that creeps, and it is a very successful creeper at that.

For some gardeners, this is ideal – it is a perennial plant that will spread to cover every inch of empty space. But if you’re the type of gardener that prefers well behaved and orderly plants, this might not be the best one for you.

Pick your Phlox

With so many varieties to choose from, there’s no doubt that you can find the right kind to suit your tastes and your garden.

Generally very hardy and adaptable plants, the most important consideration is probably color. With a variety of vibrant shades of pink, purple, and blue to choose from, this can be a tough decision.

Named after the Appalachian Mountain ranges from which the plant originates, two of the most common varieties of P. stolonifera are ‘Blue Ridge’ and ‘Pink Ridge.’ There is also a white variety called ‘Bruce’s White’ that’s popular among gardeners, named after the wildflower enthusiast Bruce Chin.

‘Candy Stripe’ Creeping Phlox Plant

If you’re into pinks like I am, I recommend a beautiful type of vibrant striped ‘Candy Stripe’ P. subulata which you can find on Amazon or purchase from Burpee.

Closeup square image of white 'Snowflake' creeping phlox flowers with green leaves in the background, growing in brown soil.

‘Snowflake’ Phlox

Or for something more delicate, check out the ‘Snowflake’ variety, available from Nature Hills Nursery.

How to Ensure an Influx of Phlox

It’s easy to grow P. stolonifera and P. subulata from seed, cuttings, and transplants.

From seed, the main thing to remember is to use a potting medium with good drainage, preferably comprised of perlite and coarse sand granules. It’s best to seed them about 2 months before the last frost date. Once the plants start to emerge, it’s important to give them enough sunlight – around 12 hours a day.

However, it is probably easier to grow from cuttings or transplants than it is from seeds. Luckily, this plant can be found easily in nurseries, or you may be able to take some cuttings from a friend.

Because of its easygoing nature, this plant will happily take to the soil in both spring and autumn.

Vertical image of pink creeping phlox covering the ground, with taller green foliage in the background, with filtered golden sunlight.

The main thing to keep in mind is the planting distance, with a recommended spacing of around 15 to 18 inches between each.

Creeping phlox, as the name suggests, creeps along the ground and spreads with long, leggy runners. It’s best to plant in staggered rows, allowing enough room for each plant to occupy the space around it.

There’s nothing too complicated or technical about planting – just try to keep the top of the root ball level with the ground, be sure to give each plant a good first soaking to settle it into its new home, and you should be good to go.

Growing Tips

P. stolonifera and P. subulata are adaptable and versatile plants which, when situated in the right place with the right amount of sun exposure, will thrive without any special care.

There are, however, a few things you can do to help these flowers along.

A garden bed planted with short creeping phlox, with pale purple flowers and green leave, along a tan stone pathway.

Both P. stolonifera and P. subulata take kindly to either a late winter or early spring feeding with a slow release fertilizer or organic plant food, which helps promote strong and vigorous growth.

Don’t forget: it doesn’t like soggy soil, so generally speaking, it’s best to keep watering to a minimum.

Of course, even when well established, phlox benefits from an extra watering during especially hot summers, or if you live somewhere that gets an average of less than 1 inch of rain per week.

Maintenance

Although not strictly necessary, a bit of trimming from time to time does this plant some good.

Closeup of pink phlox flowers with five petals each, yellow centers, and a triangular notch in the end of each petal, with bright green narrow leaves.

Stems can be cut back at a couple of different times throughout the year: once after flowering to encourage a second bloom, with an occasional winter cut-back to keep the plant happy, healthy, and raring to go, ready for the following spring.

Cutting the stems back like this also encourages their naturally long growth to become shorter and woodier, creating more dense flowering.

Propagation

Creeping phlox is easy to propagate through division, stem cuttings, or rooted stems.

Cuttings, if done right, are a particularly easy option to propagate, as they root easily after a few months.

Horizontal image of stripes of pink and purple creeping phlox flowers, completely filling the frame.

All you need to do is cut a roughly 6-inch-long section, either from a rooted stem or a lateral shoot near the tip. Make sure there’s at least one leaf and no flowers on the cutting. Always make cuttings with a clean, sharp tool to prevent infection.

Creeping phlox roots so well that it doesn’t even require rooting hormone, although this product will help speed along the process if you’re keen to ensure success. Just place the cuttings in a potting mixture with good drainage, using perlite and/or coarse sand, and you’re good to go.

A brown rock wall planted with pink creeping phlox and green foliage at the top, and lime green leafy groundcover on the level below, against a white wall.

One thing to bear in mind is timing, which is everything with this plant. It’s recommended to take cuttings in spring or autumn, although it seems to take root particularly well in autumn after it has flowered.

You can also propagate P. stolonifera and P. subulata easily through division. It is best to divide in early fall when temperatures are cool. It’s recommended to divide this plant once every few years to keep it healthy, especially if it seems to be blooming less than usual.

Root cuttings should be taken just before the arrival of new spring shoots. Root cuttings of around 1.5 inches should do the trick, and they should be fully inserted into firmed compost, taking care that the end furthest from the root tip is facing up.

Top tip: when taking root cuttings, you can nick the top of the cuttings to indicate which end is which, to make sure you don’t get mixed up.

Managing Pests and Diseases

This beautiful bloomer can be a bit susceptible to mites. To stop any problems from “creeping” up on you, it is important to act fast, as soon as you spot signs of trouble.

This can usually be easily achieved by using an organic insecticidal soap.

Vertical image of pale blue five-pointed phlox flowers.

In moist conditions, P. stolonifera and P. subulata can also suffer from powdery mildew. The best way to ensure that this isn’t a problem is to keep watering to a minimum, although this can also be quite effectively prevented via occasional pruning to promote good air circulation.

Creeping Phlox Quick Reference Growing Guide

Time to Get Growing!

With its vibrant flowers and easygoing nature, there is no doubt that this beautiful perennial will quickly creep its way into both your garden and your heart, whichever species you choose!

Horizontal image of a swallowtail butterfly with yellow and black wings pollinating pink phlox flowers growing over a rock wall.

Whether you’re planting it to cover a slope, attract pollinators to your yard, or to add a splash of vibrant color to a partly shady corner, that’s a cultivar that’s up to the task. And with little maintenance required, you’ll be glad you chose these beautiful blooms.

What’s your favorite variety? Do you have any questions that we didn’t cover here? Feel free to reach out in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Nature Hills Nursery and Dogwooderitternet. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

About Natasha Foote

With a passion for soil health and growing trees, Natasha Foote is a biologist who was hit with a serious case of green fingers, and decided to swap sterile laboratories for getting her hands dirty in the soil. Formerly a farmer and researcher working with the agroforestry project Mazi Farm in Greece, when she wasn't working on the farm, she was busy studying soil biology under the microscope. Now, you can find her in the south of France where, in between enjoying all the fresh peaches, plums, apricots, and cherries that the area has to offer, she's working on various agricultural projects whilst writing about all things green.

57 thoughts on “How to Grow and Care for Creeping Phlox”

  1. I want to propagate some creeping phlox in containers through division. How deep should the containers be? Will nursery flats work? Thanks

    Reply
    • Depending on how big the rootstock is, you could use a pot anywhere from 4 inches for smaller plants to 6 inch pots for larger divisions. If you have a truly massive plant, you might be able to get away with an 8 or even a 10 inch pot. When in doubt, err towards a smaller container and then transplant or put it in the ground once it starts developing some real roots.

      Reply
  2. If I wanted to plant P. subulata as a ground cover in a large garden bed vs putting pea gravel/mulch, will it smother my existing flowers?

    Reply
    • Hi Lindsey – Creeping phlox forms a mat thick enough to choke out weeds, but bulbs planted well below come up beautifully right through it. Plants that share the same shallow root space may indeed compete for space.

      Reply
  3. Looking for Red Phlox and I have both tulips and mums already planted. This should make a good border, it won’t choke out the flowers or mums, correct?

    Reply
    • Hi Janet – The tulip bulbs are well below the creeping phlox, and should come up right through it. However, the mums may have to compete for the same shallow soil, and the phlox may indeed take over.

      Reply
  4. I have a slope with tightly packed weeds and have begun to grow phlox – should I dig around them and/or add a thin layer of mulch to optimize its spread? Our hope is to have a hill of these beautiful phlox

    Reply
    • Hello Anestis – To give your phlox every opportunity to get off to a good start, the weeds should be removed before planting the phlox. Once established, it will form a thick carpet that weeds will have a hard time penetrating.

      Reply
  5. I have a slope on the south side of my house where I was planning on using some ground cover perennial. I wanted to start them in a pot as a spilled over look. I’m new to gardening so should I dig out a path and leave just the soil in the path that I would like for them to grow or just plant them directly in the ground without removing the weeds? Will they grow back next spring? I live in CT and haven’t had terrible winters recently. Also if I were to do multiple lines of colors will they grow into each other and mix? Sorry for all the questions, I’m new to this gardening thing lol

    Reply
    • Weeds should be removed.

      Since these are perennials (as opposed to annuals), they are very likely to return for years to come.

      * Make sure you live somewhere that is within the “hardiness zone” range to improve your chances that your perennials will return! *

      CONNECTICUT IS A ZONE 6 OR 7 AND THIS PLANT DOES WELL IN ZONES 3-9.
      (See chart from the article)

      If planted in lines, as seen in one of the photos from the article, they probably won’t mix much, but some light maintenance (color separating and pruning) might be required depending on how clean you want the lines to look!

      Reply
  6. Would this be good to plant along the edge of a dirt alley? There is a lot of tree cover, so more of a shady area.

    Reply
    • Hi Sharon –
      Creeping phlox is a sun-loving plant that tolerates some shade. It sounds like your location is quite shady. A better choice would be common periwinkle, Vinca minor.

      Reply
      • Vinca minor is invasive and shouldn’t be planted. Native alternatives for a shady spot include Packera aurea, Asarum canadense, Eurybia divaricata, Salvia lyrata, or Fragaria virginiana. Since these are native they have the benefit of supporting wildlife. The fruit of Fragaria virginiana is also edible as it was hybridized with the South American strawberry to create the common grocery store variety.

        Reply
  7. Hello I was reading how they like to move and grow. If I were to place these closer to my house where there is t much slope would these grow up the side of my house?

    Reply
    • Hello Rebecca! These adventurous plants are creepers, not climbers, so they wouldn’t grow up the side of your house. If you do want a flowering plant or perennial that will climb a wall (and have the structure to support it), you’d want a clinging vine, like some of the ones recommended in this article. Good luck!

      Reply
  8. Where can I obtain creeping phlox “snowflake” seeds. I would like to try growing it from seed. I can’t find them anywhere in my search. Thank you

    Reply
    • I was able to do some research for you, Gloria. P. subulata ‘Snowflake’ is a patented hybrid of P. bifida and P. subulata, introduced by Primrose Path™ in the early ’90s. I checked their website, and apparently this plant breeder is no longer doing commercial production of some of their plants – their website says ‘Snowflake’ plants “probably are not now available.” ‘Snowflake’ won’t grow true from saved seed, and only live plants of this variety are available on the market today. You can find them at Nature Hills Nursery (link provided above), and Monrovia as well.

      Reply
  9. Would phlox winter in an old wash tub? I would love to see if cascading down but not sure if it would insulate enough.

    Reply
    • Hi Jan –

      You can certainly try to winter your creeping phlox over in the washtub. Keep the soil slightly moist by watering it lightly every month or so during the winter. The metal may prove to be a good insulator. However, in the warm weather, when you return the metal tub to the outdoors, it may get too hot in the sunshine and scorch the plants.

      Reply
  10. When planting creeping phlox subulata – a couple of years ago I may have planted them too close to each other and a few other established small shrubs in the same border. How and when do I ‘thin’ the plants out so they don’t choke the other plants, and should I cut them back where they’ve overlapped the edge of my driveway?

    Reply
    • Hi Terry –

      You may divide, or thin your creeping phlox after it blooms in the spring. As for cutting back the portions overhanging the driveway, it won’t do them any harm to creep over the pavement, as their interconnected root system nourishes and hydrates them. It’s a matter of personal preference.

      Reply
  11. Hi, I am looking into planting creeping phlox along two very long sidewalk strips and about 3 feet wide. If I do end up using phlox for these areas, can I cut it back using a lawn mower?

    Reply
    • Hi Kristen –

      Creeping phlox has shallow roots that mat together like a carpet. I don’t recommend mowing the edges, as you may churn up clumps and end up with irregular margins. As it would be too much to do by hand, you may consider using an edging tool for better control.

      Reply
  12. In March, I ordered 6-gallon bare root creeping phlox because our nursery was totally out. The stems on the top were dry and only 1 of the 6 seem to be growing. They are planted on a slope in afternoon sun. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Hi Jane –

      Unfortunately, bare rootstock that dries out before we can get it into the ground is often doomed from the start.

      Provide an inch of water per week, more if it is especially hot and dry. Make sure your soil drains well, and take care not to oversaturate the ground.

      Keep the garden weeded.

      If you can nurse your remaining plant through the summer, early next spring, apply a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer or organic plant food per package instructions.

      In the spring, you may also add a layer of organic material such as compost and/or mulch, to inhibit weed growth and aid in moisture retention.

      Reply
    • Hi Pauline –

      Creeping phlox can be planted in spring and fall. Generally nurseries time shipments to coincide with the appropriate time for planting out in your USDA hardiness zone. When the plugs arrive, moisten them gently with the garden hose, and keep them out of direct sunlight while you work your garden soil to a crumbly consistency. Plant the plugs as soon as possible, matching the soil surface of the plug to the ground soil level, for a smooth transition. Allow 15 to 18 inches between plugs. Provide an inch of water per week, in the absence of rain.

      Reply
  13. Natasha Foote,

    Thanks so much for writing this article! I came here to find out the root depth of phlox and left with so much more than that!

    What a wonderful article!

    Many blessings to you! (ʘᴗʘ✿)

    Reply
  14. Hello! We have a new home with a steep hill. We currently have grass on the hill but it’s too dangerous to cut so we are going to plant creeping phlox. (1) Do we need to kill the grass before planting the phlox or if we plant the phlox within the grass, will it eventually choke out the grass? If we need to get rid of the grass first, should we rake/dig up the grass or can grass killer be used or would that prevent the phlox from growing in it’s place (2) Should I add sand to the dirt before planting the phlox (3)The phlox will ultimately grow up next to edging of a landscape bed that we wouldn’t want the phlox to grow into. How can we prevent that? (4) I’m seeing lots of beautiful pictures of the creeping phlox when it blooms but I’m really curious what it looks like when it’s not in bloom since that will be 11 out of 12 months of the year. I’m hoping that will help me decide which of the two varieties to select. Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    • Hello Sandie! Welcome to the wonderful world of creeping phlox. I’ll field your questions in the order received:

      1. Yes, sorry, the grass has to go so it doesn’t compete. And definitely no herbicides. My husband, who works as a lawn care pro, adds his two cents: “Yep, gonna have to get out the shovel.” I wouldn’t recommend a tiller, either, not on that slope!

      2. It doesn’t need to be sand per se, but you definitely want to amend your soil so it drains well. You can add some sand if your soil is particularly sticky or heavy, and make sure to also work in organic material like peat or aged compost.

      3. Happily, the phlox will creep but it will not climb, so the landscape bed will be fine as long as it’s above the phlox.

      4. Phlox is what’s known as a “semi-evergreen.” Even when it’s not blooming it’s slow to die back, and it’s the first to grow back in the early spring. There are two times of year when it may not look its best. The first is in the heat of the summer, when its foliage can turn green-yellow and or get a bit brown without falling from the plant. To take care of that, you may want to clip the spent leaves. In the winter cold, it can also get brown and frankly a bit weedy looking. (Be reassured, though – it tends to be one of the last flowering plants to do so.) At that time, you can cover it with a two-inch layer of mulch, choosing one made of organic material that hasn’t been treated with an herbicide or pesticide. Or if you get snow and the brown stuff isn’t in plain view, you can just let it ride, or pluck or clip any brown stems that don’t appeal to you.

      Good luck growing phlox, and we’ll look forward to photos at some point, okay?

      Reply
    • I’m betting on squirrels, or, if you have them around, maybe chipmunks?

      The best way to protect your phlox if it is squirrels is to use floating row cover when the seedlings are young and tender (and the roots are easier to get to, squirrels eat them, too).

      You can also see if you’ve left any bird feeder debris that is attracting squirrels to the yard, and consider setting up food you wouldn’t mind if they ate a ways away from the phlox. If you do catch them in the act, would you come back here and share the news?

      Good luck!

      Reply
  15. I need a low,fast growing flowering plant.One that requires little maintenance,can grow in shade or sun, and comes in the color white. Any sugestions?

    Reply
  16. I bought a variety of Phlox off the internet in plug form. I potted them in 3″ pots in multi-purpose compost.This was in January & I kept them in my greenhouse. It is now the beginning of March and they have grown slowly. But most of them have suffered of the plants leaf tips going brown & I do not know why? Can anyone suggest?

    Reply
    • Hello Martin Wood.

      I am thinking they may need a bit more space, about 12 inches per plug in a pot is standard, or several in a wider pot? Also, container phlox need consistent watering in addition to well-draining soil.

      Get a look at the package your compost came in, and see if it’s meant as an additive or specifically says “for potted plants” or references container gardening in some way. If it doesn’t, there’s a chance you’ve got soil that’s too compact for the plants. If you can, amend it with some sand or peat if that’s the case.

      If you’re not planning to keep them in containers indefinitely, and the evening temperatures are reliably above 40°F, it may be a really good time to get them out of that greenhouse.

      Just be sure to clip those brown tips before planting them in the ground or in bigger containers. Wishing you well with your creeping phlox! Let us know how it goes.

      Reply
  17. We had six plants of the purple pholx that were doing great, for 3 years, covered appox 3×9 feet of area in a west facing , rocky soil at 6600 feet elevation in Colorado Springs Co area ,,then as of last year we lost most of the plants ,,nothing changed still watered the same amount ? Any ideas

    Reply
    • Hello Michael. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that they’ve either exhausted the nutrition in the soil, or may have contracted powdery mildew if they’ve grown quite close together and are no longer receiving proper air circulation. I guess there’s also a chance that another plant has grown larger and is now shading the phlox.

      I have a couple of simple suggestions: Dig up a clump and see if it needs dividing. Instructions for that are in the article above! Pull out any dead plants, and give the rest a good watering. You may be pleasantly surprised if they make a comeback.

      If the remaining plants are suffering, don’t give them fertilizer, not yet. But do trim any brown or dead areas, loosen the soil between them with a claw or rake, and give them a thorough watering. If they pull through, plenty of time in the spring to apply a fertilizer for blooming perennials.

      If they don’t pull through, plant new plugs, making sure that the soil is well-drained. I hope it all works out for you!

      Reply
  18. Thinking of putting down some Creeping Phlox as ground cover for a retaining wall I had built. As far as planting them goes do I just space them out based on “Mature Size” on the labels? And would I do that both horizontally as well as vertically in a criss-cross pattern? Image of wall attached so would the yellow circles be where I plant them based on mature size (width)?

    Reply
    • Hello Hue!

      I think the diagram you’ve drawn looks about right. You do want to stagger them a little so they can spread horizontally as well as vertically, versus planting them in two straight rows.

      And, yes, check out the labels for the anticipated size at maturity. Keep in mind that some spread as far as two feet, and that they are more likely to travel down slope than up.

      One last suggestion from me: Start with a little more space than you think you need at first. If they don’t spread as far as you’d like, or get as tall or as full as you had envisioned, you can always fill in with a few more seeds or cuttings if you need them. It’s much tougher to try to selectively remove just some of the plants if they’re too crowded. They can get tangled in a hurry, and you may end up removing or harming the ones you want to keep.

      We’d love to see the eventual outcome! Looks like the perfect spot for a burst of colorful groundcover…

      Reply
  19. This is a great article! I have a rock wall that has lots of spaces between the rocks. Could I tuck creeping phlox plants in the crevices or should I plant above and hope they trail down and cover up the crevices?

    Reply
    • Hello Jennifer! If you have your heart set on tucking something between the rocks, I would recommend sedum, assuming you’re in the right hardiness zones to grow it.

      Phlox can be an ideal cover for rocks or other bald spots in the landscape. But I would go with your Plan B: plant it above them and it will “creep” over the crevices.

      The reason it’s better to start them in the ground and let them trail instead of planting them in the crevices? Creeping phlox need well-draining soil that’s been prepared to at least 10 inches deep. Once they’re established, they’ll grow over top of the rocks, but they wouldn’t do well in shallow soil trying to grow between the rocks.

      Also, it’s far easier to divide the plants from above instead of within the crevices, and you’ll want to do that every couple of years.

      Good luck! So glad to hear you’re going to give this flowering perennial evergreen a go.

      Reply
    • Sorry to hear about these brown flowers, Carol Peterson. There’s a chance your plants have contracted powdery mildew, if they’re not planted with enough spacing for ample air circulation. Or, if they’re older, they may have depleted all the nutrients in the soil.

      And on the other end of the spectrum, if they are new and not well-established, they may not be getting enough water. After they get established, phlox can get by with low water, but when they’re getting going they need ample supplies. And they always need well-draining soil.

      Please get back to me if one of these solutions fits! Or, post a photo and we’ll try some other ideas if none of those ideas hits the mark.

      Reply
  20. I have just planted 80 gallon size creeping phlox. The sloped area is quite big so they were planted 2 feet apart. They look pretty sparse. I realize the recommendation is planting 15-18 inches apart. Will these fill in like a carpet or should I add any plants due to the greater spacing in between plants?
    Thank you, Lisa

    Reply
    • Hello Lisa! They may have a few bare spots at that spacing. But instead of filling in with full-sized plants, I would take a few cuttings and use those wherever you notice too much space. The directions are in the propagation section, above. Good luck! Feel free to share photos, it’s always fun to see a creeping phlox planting in progress..

      Reply
    • Hello Louise Quesnel! Creeping phlox needs at least 18 inches between it and other plants.

      It can suppress other low-growing ground covers. Also keep in mind that if you plant something too near and it grows faster than the phlox, the phlox won’t thrive the way it would if it didn’t have to compete for nutrients or water.

      The best solution here is to plant the other flowers you have in mind higher in the bed or border than the phlox. They “creep” down, versus “climbing” up, so the plants behind will be protected.

      Another good option is to plant phlox as a companion to flowering shrubs. They do fine in part sun, and will fill in the space below the shrub in an eye-catching fashion.

      Good luck and happy gardening!

      Reply
  21. How aggressive are creeping phlox roots? Id love to add them to my pollinator garden but its close to my septic system/pipes so I have to be careful of root depths.

    Reply
    • Hello Cassandra! We generally tell people to cultivate about 12 inches down for phlox roots, to give you an idea. They are by no means invasive, nor do they have a reputation for growing into pipes, but it would depend on your layout.

      To avoid any risk, you could always grow them in containers, or raised beds, or even hanging baskets. I hope that helps you decide, and that you enjoy your pollinator garden whether you go for the phlox or not.

      Reply
    • Absolutely! The ideal temperature for germination is 70°F but they’ll also sprout at 65°F–it will just take a couple of days longer. Make sure to keep the soil moist until they sprout, and happy gardening, Patricia!

      Reply
  22. I have a multitude of phlox in my front garden and until this year were the most beautiful things you have ever seen. However this year (it runs down both side of a stairway) a large potion of it (one side) didn’t bloom well at all and now seems to be dying. Do they get old? They get good watering and sunlight.

    Reply
    • Hello Jane Wrighton.

      A few things could be in play here. There’s a chance that they have exhausted the soil a bit. Next season, late in the winter or at the first hint of spring, you may want to try a slow-release fertilizer or organic plant food.

      They could also have gotten so full that the air circulation isn’t ample, but I am discounting that since it’s only happening on one side. Is it possible that that side is getting too much water?

      In your position, I would probably make sure to prune them a bit this year, check out the soil to make sure it’s not overly damp, and hedge your bets by starting a few cuttings in case you have to replace a bunch of them next year.

      Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

      Reply

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