How to Care For a Phlox

Phlox is a genus of more than 65 species of flowering plants. Depending on the species, habitat, and growing conditions, phlox can be annual or perennial in nature. Phlox plants produce flowers in a variety of vibrant colors. The flowers are great attractions for butterflies, which adds to the appeal of these plants. Phlox plants can brighten your garden in spring and summer with their attractive foliage and flowers. These plants are quite hardy, and can be easily mantained with some basic care.

Planting Phlox

When you buy your phlox plant at the local nursery or garden center, look for plants with a healthy foliage and root system. The best time to buy and plant phlox is after the last frost. Phlox grow best in a sunny location, where they can get at least six hours of sun everyday. In hotter climates, it is beneficial to provide partial shade. Avoid shade if you live in a colder climate, because phlox plants are highly prone to mildew if left damp and shaded. To avoid chances of mildew, you must ensure that the phlox plants have the required space and air circulation. If you are planning to grow multiple phlox plants, choose planting spots that are 1.5 to 2 feet apart from each other.

Prepare the soil in the planting spot a few weeks before you plant the phlox. Work some granular fertilizer and mature compost into the soil and let it settle. Remove any weeds from the planting spot as well. Once you are ready to plant the phlox, dig out a hole that is about twice the size of the container. The ideal depth for placing the plant is where the top of the root ball is level with the soil. After placing the plant, fill the hole with soil, and fix the plant in place. Water the soil thoroughly till it is moist.

Phlox Care

To retain moisture, protect the plant from temperature fluctuations. To reduce the invasion of weeds, it is necessary to mulch the planting spot. You can use compost, bark dust, or small wood chips. Replace the mulch with fresh layers as needed. Garden phlox requires regular watering, especially during the hot days of summer. Generous watering is also essential if the soil is sand-like, or if the weather is very hot. In the absence of sufficient water, the plant will not produce as many flowers. However, this plant can be susceptible to root rot if over-watered.

Fertilize the plant a couple of times during the growing season by applying compost or a recommended fertilizer. Phlox plants are generally quite hardy and resistant to most pests and diseases, except powdery mildew. To prevent this condition, avoid wetting the foliage when you water the plant. Watering the plants in the morning helps keep the foliage dry. You can encourage good air flow around the plant by thinning other neighboring plants. After 3 years of growth, a mature phlox must be divided, preferably in the early fall. If left undivided, the plant can be susceptible to root rot, and will not grow well. Divided plants will exhibit healthier, abundant growth.