Outdoor Equipment Buying Guides
June 29, 2017
Stiff Vervain
July 1, 2019

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata L.) has 50+ varieties and has become a popular perennial for some gardens, thriving in full sun in plant hardiness zones three and eight set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1706, the plant was named from the Latin version, which was the name of a Pliny flower. The name also came from the Greek word phlox, which means “a kind of plant that has showy flowers.” The name was then given to the flowering phlox plant in North America by a German botanist by the name of Johann Jakob Dillenius (1684-1747).

The phlox plants are now found mainly in North America. Paniculata (aka tall phlox) is a native American wildflower that grows from New York to Iowa and all the way south to Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi. The plant blooms from July to September. Phlox plants generally range from two to four feet in height, depending upon where they’re growing. The plant grows clusters of little flowers, making up a two to four-inch head that looks like it’s all one large bloom, many of which are extremely fragrant and therefore attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The plants can be propagated using stem cuttings as well. 

Phlox is an old-fashioned favorite among gardening enthusiasts. It is prized for its sweet fragrance and prolific blooms from mid to late summer. Those blooms are made up of classic flowers that are quite common in garden flower borders, and they also mix well with other perennials. When phlox is grown in full sun, it provides blossoms that are long-lasting and come in shades of blue, pink, purple, red, and white.

In climates that are consistently moderate in general, planting perennial flowers, including phlox, works well at just about any time throughout the growing season until late fall. The plants need to be planted in well-draining soil and in full sun. If the soil contains a lot of clay, it can be amended by adding peat moss or compost for improving drainage. The phlox should be put in the ground at approximately the same level as in the nursery container. They should then be watered deeply, mulched with organic mulch, and the stems thinned to five for each plant once they have reached six inches long.

Keeping the phlox plants weed-free is important as well. Pulling weeds by hand is the weed control practice that is the least invasive, plus it doesn’t require any special supplies nor a penny of financial investment. It will, however, require monitoring frequently for removing any new weeds as soon as they start emerging. Pulling the weeds by hand can also allow you to be working around new growth that might appear as the clumps are spreading to surrounding areas.

One man’s garden flower is another man’s weed. When phlox is growing in places where it’s not wanted, then it can be removed fairly easily. Although it can often be hand-pulled, removing all of the roots (especially with creeping varieties) can prove challenging, therefore a herbicide application could be required to remove phlox completely. Simply mix 2 2/3 oz of herbicide together with one gallon of water in a garden sprayer for making a two percent glyphosate solution, using a product containing a surfactant as it will help the herbicide with coating the foliage more easily and reducing runoff. Spray the phlox, thoroughly wetting all parts of the plants. Allow seven days for it to take effect and the phlox plants should start shriveling up and turning brown. After ten days, if any green plant parts still remain, spray again with the herbicide, and the process should then be complete. For lawn care most homeowners are better off leaving it to the pros and just hire a lawn service that offers year-round weed control.