Gardening is exciting and in the literal sense a fruitful hobby. If you are looking for an almost all-rounder flower. That can be planted in almost all settings, from balconies that are a few feet to ones that expand to seemingly unending limits then the Phlox flower is the one to choose. Here we will see, how to grow and care Phlox flowers.
These perennials or annuals come in several variants, right from ones that grow close to the ground to the ones that are tall or medium. In this blog, we aim at putting into a nutshell everything you need to know about growing and caring for Phlox Flowers.
What is a Phlox flower?
Phlox flowers are plants adorned with delicate star-shaped flowers that are easy-going in terms of growing and caring.
Zones 4 to 8 are known to be hardiness zones for almost all variants and they grow to about 5 feet the shorter variants, on the other hand, are either mid-height or grow close to the ground. They come in about 67 species of both perennials as well as annuals and about 1500 including all the hybrid variants, hence can be chosen according to your specifications.
The Phlox plant is available in colors like white, pink, red, purple, and blue and is a favorite when it comes to birds and butterflies. So be sure to have a lot of colorful winged visitors when you plant these beauties in your balcony.
The Phlox belongs to the Polemoniaceae family meaning it is native to the Northern Hemisphere and South America. They bloom all season long and do well in the winter sun. if you would like to experience and enjoy these plants to the fullest, remember that they are at full bloom during spring and summer and can be grown in both pots as well as in the soil or can be used as hedges.
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What are the different types of Phlox?
Before going through how to grow and care Phlox flowers, let us see what are the different types of Phlox?
These versatile plants come in different varieties right from the ones that cove the ground or pots that they are planted in, this variant is known as the Creeping phlox or Moss phlox (Phlox subulata) and grow close to the soil, Woodland phlox or Blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) are generally seen growing in meadows, Annual phlox or Drummond’s phlox(Phlox drummondii), and the Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata).
In terms of classification Phlox plants can be broadly classified into 3 categories:
Garden Phlox – Phlox Paniculata (Growing and caring for these flowers)
Here, we will see how to grow and care Phlox flowers specially paniculata.
The Garden Phlox thrives in zones 4 to 8 and is actually native to the Eastern United States. This variant grows to about 24” – 48” and the blooming season lasts from late spring through summer. They are the Tall clump-forming perennials that are common in balcony gardens that have a high ceiling.
These plants are covered with deep green spear-shaped foliage. The flowers, on the other hand, are available in the shades of pink, purple, red as well as pastel white and are about ¾ to 1 inch wide. These fragrant flowers often attract pollinators. To encourage a second bloom faster cut back the plant by a third after it blooms for the first time.
The Garden Phlox has the reputation of being a sun-loving perennial but can be grown in the shade especially in places that are hotter. Growing and caring for the Garden Phlox plant and its flowers is not a herculean task as the care instructions are clear.
These plants prefer well-drained soil, hence it is important to pay attention to pot drainage while planting them in balcony gardens. Along with well-drained soil pay attention to ventilation space the plants and allow them to breathe.
This will help them grow to their maximum potential. In terms of pests and diseases humidity and draught can cause ‘Powdery mildew’ this is not fatal to the plant it will only disfigure the leaves. This condition can easily be treated by either cutting off the affected part or by using a locally available medication that can be sprayed on the plant.
Tip: opt for hybrid variants of the Garden Phlox as they breed better and are more resistant to mildew.
Note: Powdery Mildew is a fungal disease that spreads via water and soil and proliferates in dry soil and humid air.
How to identify Mildew: these can be spotted easily by an untrained eye – look for powdery white blotches on the upper surface of leaves. you will also notice a slight disfiguration.
Creeping Phlox – Phlox Subulata (Growing and caring for these flowers)
If you wander around hillsides and rock gardens during early spring, you will notice a lush green carpet with colorful flowers. These plants are known as creeping Phlox due to their mat-like and close to the earth’s existence. In gardens, they are the best plants to plant with early spring blooming variants of the Phlox or other plants as they grow low and are effortlessly beautiful.
The Creeping Phlox thrives in zones 2 – 8. They appreciate moisture but need soil that is well-drained. They cope well with their surroundings and bloom the best in full sun. these plants can be placed in planters along the railing of your balcony garden.
These plants have foliage that is comparatively spiky but soft and are decked with flowers in the shades of pink, purple, blue, red and white. You can mix and match these colours to form a colourful blanket along the railing of your balcony garden or in the front along with a little grass to give your balcony a hillside look and feel.
Tip: These plants do not need much care once planted but in order to give them a tidier look be sure to trim the plant from time to time by cutting off the dead leaves and flowers.
Woodland Phlox – Phlox Stolonifera / Divaricata (Growing and caring for these flowers)
The Woodland Phlox thrives in zones 3-8 and are about 6 to 12” tall. These plants add colour to an otherwise shady balcony. These plants adorned with light airy flowers in various colours like lilac-blue, pink and white grow well in humus-rich soil and they propagate easily.
These plants grow well in sunny balcony gardens as well but you need to provide shade in the afternoon. Be extra careful if you live in a place with hotter conditions. This along with moist soil will help them grow and bloom well. powdery mildew affects this variant in sunnier drier areas.
Tip: to avoid mildew for the Woodland Phlox make sure that the soil is drained well and is rich in organic material.
Guide to grow and care Phlox flowers
Here is a detailed guide on how to grow and care Phlox flowers.
How to plant Phlox plants?
Almost all variants of the Phlox plant are easier to plant from cuttings than from the seed. To start off get a potting mix that’s of good quality. It is necessary to invest in a good potting mix as potted plants unlike those planted in the ground do not receive natural nutrients.
During the initial phase, it is also important to feed the plants well as this will enable growth and the foliage will be denser. This can be done by using a store-bought compost or one that is prepared using kitchen waste.
Be sure to invest in pots of good quality, it is also essential to have pots that are not too heavy as it will only add to the overall weight on the balcony when you add the soil and as the plants grow. Before filling the pots with soil, poke a few holes at the bottom. This will ensure that the extra water drains out.
All variants of the Phlox plant prefer well-drained soil. To make the soil drainable layer the potting mix with sand or broken pieces of old earthen pots. This will ensure that the soil is well-drained.
Here is a step to step guide on how to plant Phlox.
Step one – start the seeding process early
When we plant a garden in the backyard, we plan each step carefully in accordance with the weather conditions and the type of plant we are planning to grow. Same is the case with potted plants in a balcony garden. These plants are dormant when the temperatures are low and thrive on sunlight to grow and bloom. Hence it is necessary to so them early in order to enjoy the entire blooming period.
Step two – place the pots on the sill
After sowing the seeds, you should be able to see shoots in about a month. At this point add fertilizers and move the pot to the window sill or in the sunny section of the balcony so that it receives enough sunlight.
Step three – transferring
If you have used a sowing tray or a bag to sow the seeds this is the time to transfer the sapling to a flower box or a pot where the plant can grow. See that the box you use is not overcrowded. Add a few drops of water-soluble fertilizers at this point so that the plant can feed and grow well.
If you are planning to use cuttings they can be cut at the nearest nod and replanted in pots that have a good quality potting mix sprinkled with fertilizers and compost. This is the easiest and most commonly used method to plant the Phlox flower.
How to care for Phlox plants?
If you are planning to plant the creeping phlox variant water them immediately after planting. After this, the plant needs to be watered regularly but be sure to allow the soil to dry between each watering session. If the soil in the container is wet the plant will rot. To help them grow well add water-soluble fertilizer by watering it down to half strength.
If you are planning to have a plant that is bushier and denser cut along with runners back to about half their length. These plants are generally pest resistant and hence you will not need any extra equipment or insecticides. But they sometimes attract spiders and other home pests that can be easily taken care of with soapy solution.
Tip: Remember to keep trimming the plant and getting rid of the dead leaves and flowers as this will promote growth and ensure that the plant looks and grows healthy.
What are the diseases that affect the Phlox plant?
Phlox is a plant that comes under the low maintenance and easy to grow and care category. They are generally pest and disease resistant and are a hit with novice balcony gardeners as they do not need to pay much attention to the plant after the initial planting or transplanting phase.
This being said some variants can contact Powdery mildew that is caused due to excess water on the foliage. Cutting back the stems and allowing the plant to regrow is the best option. You could also opt for store-bought medication. Most hybrid variants are most mildew resistant, hence it is a good idea to invest in these variants instead of the traditional Phlox plants.
Other than this some plant variants may contact stem canker, rust, southern blight, stem nematodes, leaf spots or leaf miners. All these can be treated by spraying insecticides available at the local nursery. You could also use peppermint oil on a cotton ball this will help get rid of most of the household insects that fancy spending time and breeding in these plants.
How to trim phlox plant?
Trimming or pruning of the Phlox plant is necessary to ensure that the plant grows and blooms well. on the other hand, it also helps the plant grow bushier. While trimming pay attention to the dead leaves and flowers. to get better blooms it is necessary to get rid of all the dead flowers.
The creeping variant remains evergreen and hardly requires trimming. This cannot be said about the taller variants as they need to be cut back from time to time to ensure that they grow well. Simply cut about an inch to two inches and the plant will grow back in a few weeks.
The Phlox does not need to be trimmed often, but if the variant you are planting is the one that grows very tall it’s better to start trimming early to maintain the desired height.
Most novice balcony gardeners think it is necessary to get a large number of tools, this is not the case, there are several pruners and trimmers available off the internet or in local stores, you could choose one that is more versatile and can be used for the entire garden. If you are unsure of the type you can start by using a pair of really sharp scissors, they work just fine when it comes to trimming and pruning plants that have a rather thing stem.
How do you get Phlox to bloom?
The best way to get the Phlox plant to bloom is by trimming them regularly. It is important to get rid of the old flowers that have passed their bloom. This helps the plant grow another bud which in turn blooms in about a week. This process increases the blooming period of the plant and you are able to enjoy a colourful balcony all summer through.
Spreading mulch or moss on the surface of the pot helps as it helps retain moisture and the plants are able to soak in nutrients without being submerged under water.
Tip: pay attention to the amount of water the soil retains as the plant will rot if the soil is too wet.
How quickly does phlox spread/grow?
Growing and caring for Phlox flowers is as easy as taking a stroll in the park. These plants are known to be easily managed, as these plants come in several variants it is easier to look for variants that suit your balcony garden needs in terms of size shape, and type. you can also choose from ones that require lesser attention as compared to the others.
The creeping variant for example propagates easily and doesn’t require attention after they are planted. The taller variants on the other hand will require time and effort when it comes to pruning and trimming the plant from time to time.
This being said most variants grow as well as spread fast. Most of them self-seed which means that they multiply on their own. The growth also depends on many factors like
Soil: these plants are not fussy about the type of soil they are planted in but this is limited to planting them directly in the ground. When they are planted in pots and planters it is important to use quality potting mix as it will provide essential nutrients that help the plant grow.
Weather/ temperature: these plants like full sun and grow well and bloom in areas that receive ample sunlight. in gloomier conditions they will not be able to reach their full potential in terms of colour of flowers or the lush green foliage typical of most variants of the phlox.
How tall does phlox grow?
The height of this plant depends on the variant, with the number of variants and sub-variants available it’s difficult to classify these plants into a fixed height bracket. But as mentioned earlier there are three major subcategories and the heights of these variants range from those that cove the soil like a blanket, those that are a few inches to feet tall, and those that tower to about 10 to 12 feet.
Other than the variant other factors like nourishment and the quality of water and soil play an important role in determining the height of the plant.
We got to know how to grow and care Phlox flowers and how tall does phlox grow?
Does creeping phlox bloom all summer?
We saw how to grow and care Phlox flowers. But this is a relative question as there are so many factors that need to be considered.
One – when was the seed planted
The time when the seed was sown plays as important role in determining whether the plant will bloom all summer. If sown well in advance you can expect it to bloom through summer. If there is a delay in the sowing process the length of the bloom period decreases considerably.
Two – availability of sunlight
These plants need full sunlight to grow and bloom well. if the area you reside in does not receive enough sunlight or the balcony is in a not so sunny part of the apartment, it will reflect directly on the quality and duration of bloom. Hence it is important to pay attention to the amount of sunlight the plant receives while its growing.
Three – is the plant fed well
Plants like all living being require to be fed well in order to see them bloom. Hence it is important to use a potting mix that is of good quality to begin with. Adding fertilizers and compost will ensure that the plant is fed well and receives all the nutrients required for a good bloom cycle.
Four – diseases
A healthy plant will be able to yield more buds and flowers. hence it is important to keep an eye on the plant for diseases specially mildew. Diseases and insect infestation will hamper the growth of the plant and it will not be able to produce buds and bloom.
Keep an eye for insects on the plant – this will help increase the blooming period of the plant regardless of the variant.
phlox plant sun or shade?
Phlox is a plant that loves the sun and grows well in full sunlight, this being said there are a few variants that can grow in partial sun to a shady balcony. Pay attention to the variant that you are planting. This will help determine the amount of sunlight required.
Phlox is a flower that can easily be grown in balcony gardens. As seen in the blog growing and caring for phlox flowers is a literal walk in the park. With the wide range of variants available these plants are more the custom fit plant that everyone dreams of. You can pick the plant the suits your requirements.
In this way, the gardener is more in control and can mix and match variants of the same plant or other plants to grow the balcony garden of their dreams. I hope you will get an idea of how to grow and care Phlox flowers. So, what are you waiting for go plant a phlox today? Happy Gardening!
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.