Phlox has two personalities. If you like a casual look, trylow-growing annual phlox, which produces an abundance of colorful bloomson plants 6 to 20 inches high. For a formal, more stately bloomer, tryperennial summer phlox; varieties available include ones that tower to adramatic 5 feet, as well as newer ones like the one pictured at right,which reaches only 1 to 2 feet. In mildest-winter areas of Southern California and the desert,plant annual phlox now to give it a head start in winter rains; waituntil spring elsewhere. Perennial phlox is most available in spring. Colors for both include pink, lavender, salmon, purple, and white.You can get annual phlox in some bicolors.
Often perennial garden phloxhas a contrasting dot of color at the center of each floret. Both types appreciate fast-draining soil with plenty of organicmatter, and abundant water. Feed regularly throughout the growingseason. Since flowers fade in intense sun, provide some afternoon shadein hottest areas. With perennial phlox, you may need to apply fungicide late in the season for mildew. Where summers are hot and dry, mites mayneed control–spray kelthane if infestation is severe. Annual phlox(Phlox drummondii) In mild-winter areas, annual phlox out-performs the perennialkinds.
Plants look good massed in borders, window boxes, and flowerbeds. You can choose from a range of heights (6 to 20 inches) andvarieties with unusual star-shaped blooms, as well as ones with classicsmooth-edged flowers. These dwarf types grow 6 inches tall. The tallerstrain, Finest, is not often sold as plants but is obtainable as seed.To prolong bloom, keep spent flower picked. Summer phlox (P. paniculata) Also called perennial garden phlox, it grows best where winters arecold. It also grows successfully in milder areas that get some winterchill.
It languishes in coastal California, since winters are not coldenough for sufficient chilling, and cool summers promote mildew. Striking blooms appear on upright stalks throughout the summer. Youcan now get these in more compact forms, such as the 2-foot-tall’Sandra’. Also available is the extra-dwarf ‘PinaforePink’, which stays under a foot high.
Cut off faded flower heads to encourage lateral blooms. You willprobably want to weed out volunteer seedlings since they tend to revertto the common magenta color. Stake to keep taller plants from toppling.Plants will usually need dividing after three years.