Friday, August 24, 2012

Garden Phlox, Phlox Paniculata

Perhaps it is a certain reluctance to let go of summer because every year at this time I find myself searching for  ways to extend the flowering season. I poke around nurseries, which are largely empty in late summer, looking for something to catch my eye. 

The majority of gardeners tend to shop for plants in the spring. A natural inclination is to choose something with a bloom attached. Hey, I do it too! You want to know what you are getting after all. The problem with this selection method is that it often means that you have a garden filled with early summer flowers, and nothing but green come mid-August.

To get further pointers on late bloomers, I also like to visit other gardens and take note of plants in flower. 

For fun, I thought that I would do a series of posts on late summer bloomers based on both these sources of inspiration. The first up has to be a post on that cottage garden favourite: Phlox paniculata.

Phlox is one of my favourite flowers to photograph. I love the way the flowers catch the light. Some are sweetly fragrant, like this soft mauve colored one that I got from another gardener.

The Phlox paniculata in my garden grow in full sun, half-shade, and shade. That is quite a bit of versatility if you ask me! From this experience, I would have to say that full sun and half-shade work best. The plants in deep shade are much slower to establish and have fewer flowers.

Phlox paniculata, 'Laura' and pink colored Phlox paniculata, 'Eva Cullum'

While beautiful, phlox do have a few drawbacks. They are a little slow to form a good-sized clump. The phlox growing along the front of our white picket fence is 3 or 4 years in the making. 

Phlox also don't appreciate drought conditions. Their leaves droop and look downright pathetic. I have had to water my plants regularly to keep them going during this year's drought.

Finally, phlox are prone to white powdery mildew. The good news is that there are lots of mildew-resistant varieties to choose from. Properly spacing the plants to allow good circulation helps to prevent problems and I have always kept this in mind when choosing a location for new plants. I still sometimes find a slight dusting of mildew late in the season, but it is never a big worry. 

Recently, I went shopping for new plants and I thought that I would share my findings, along with a few planting suggestions from my garden and in other gardens that I have admired.

Available at the nursery: Top left: Phlox paniculata, Flame Series, 'Barfourteen' Top right: Phlox paniculata, 'Nicky' Bottom: Phlox paniculata,'Pixie Miracle Grace'

At Larkwhistle Garden on the Bruce Peninsula a magenta colored phlox is combined with pink roses and a creamy colored sedum in the left corner.

 Phlox paniculata, 'Niki', and at its feet, Geranium, 'Rozanne' 
This is a combination in my own garden.

Another mauve and pink phlox available at the nursery: Top left:  Phlox paniculata,'Becky Towe'  Top Right:  Phlox paniculata, 'Laura'Bottom left:  Phlox paniculata, 'Peppermint Twist'  Bottom Right:  Phlox paniculata, 'Light Pink Flame'

A combination from Larkwhistle Gardens on the Bruce Peninsula: a hot pink phlox 
and a blue Globe Thistle, Echinops ritro.

 Another pretty combination: this time it is an unknown pink variety and Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia at the Niagara Botanical Garden

 A few of the warm mauves available at the local nursery: Top left: Phlox paniculata, 'Laura' 'Top Right: Phlox paniculata, "Speed Limit' has smaller, dainty flowers than most phlox 
Bottom: Phlox paniculata, 'Little Boy'

 Phlox at Lost Horizon's Nursery: Filling in at the base of a white hydrangea is a mauve-colored phlox. Below that, there is a mix of plants including a heart-shaped Brunnera, variegated Japanese Sedge and an edging of bronze-colored Ajuga.

I am sorry this is such a terrible picture, but I wanted to show a couple of white options. This is Phlox paniculata,'Jade'. The flowers are smaller (less floppy) than the well-known variety called 'David' and are a pale, greenish-cream.

Phlox paniculata, 'David'  is fragrant, and very mildew resistant. This variety is very tall and may require staking. Remove faded flowers to encourage a second round of flowers. 

White phlox used at Larkwhistle garden. Here it is combined with deep blue Monkshood, red Monarda, a yellow daylily and tall yellow Helenium.

Phlox paniculata,'Creme de Menthe' is similar to variegated 'Nora Leigh' which has leaves accented with cream. 'Creme de Menthe' is splashed with a more of butter color.

I ended up buying this one. Love those creamy-yellow and green leaves! I have decided to plant my  'Creme de Menthe' phlox next to a blue Agastache, 'Blue Fortune'. I think I'll add a sedum into this mix (possibly Sedum 'Autumn Joy' or 'Meteor').

Another beauty at Larkwhistle Gardens. I believe this phlox with lilac-blue flowers and a darker mauve eye is Phlox paniculata, 'Frans Schubert'. Height: 80-90 cm. Unfortunately, you need to watch out for mildew on 'Frans Schubert'.

Not all phlox are cool shades of pink, purple and white! Phlox paniculata, 'Gold Mine' is a mid-sized variety (70-75 cm) with yellow edged leaves.

Phlox paniculata, 'Coral Flame' 

Again at Larkwhistle garden, a hot pink phlox is combined with white phlox, a star-shaped 
Castor Bean Plant, and a tall, yellow Mullein.

I think you'll agree that, if you don't have any Phlox paniculata in your garden, 
you're really missing out on something in the late summer.


  1. A lovely post Jennifer.
    Phlox paniculata, 'Laura'is beautiful and adding the likes of Geranium, 'Rozanne' is a brilliant idea. We do not take advantage enough of Geraniums here as much as we should.

  2. Gorgeous, I wish I had room for more phlox, they are so beautiful!

    My best rebloomer is Blue Paradise, then Bubblegum, next Fraz Schubert. Laura does not rebloom well for me. Grace Miracle is reblooming now as does David, but David has lots of mildew this year. All of my phlox peeks out so mildew is hardly ever seen.

    You have shown so many wonderful varieties.


  3. Hi Jennifer
    What a great post about a great plant! I love phlox but only have a few clumps. Mine try to lean towards the sun so they always need to be staked. I notice that the ones in your fence garden stand strong on their own. Thanks so much for the combination ideas! Terrific pairings.
    My garden needs to be weeded and deadheaded but alas….I shall be cross-border shopping :)
    Have a fun weekend in the sun!

  4. Hey Jen,
    This has to be one of the most beautiful posts I've seen this yet this year or perhaps since I've been blogging. Really. The purple against the picket are da bomb. And to think I only would have been thinking about 'David' when phlox come to mind. BTW, recently read picket fences serve a very functional purpose back in the day; keeping chickens of the fence in the garden. But few have ever looked so beautiful as yours.

  5. What a great variety of phloxes do you show in this post, really beautiful.
    The combination with other plants you showed is very welcome, you always get new ideas. I have about 5 different varieties of Phlox paniculata, but when I see all these beauties I think I have to buy more.
    Have a nice weekend!

  6. Looks beautiful, I´m always in awe of your flower pics! My garden is dying right now, only rose buds left to rejoice in - but they are pretty though! :-)

  7. Jennifer, nice collection of phlox! I love pink colored Phlox, I tried to grow these but this spring they died. Thank you for sharing great photos!

  8. Walking the dog through our neighbourhood this morning, I noticed all kinds of phlox and you are so is extending that summer feeling even as the air whispers "back to school soon." As the summer winds down I realize that your blog has encouraged me all season to look even closer at all the gardens in my 'hood. Buddy our dog gives me an excuse to stand in front of a house and gawp without looking like a lurker! One lady on her porch even thought it was cute that Buddy appeared to be sniffing the flowers! I didn't have the heart to tell her that it probably wasn't flower scents he was so interested in!! Maybe next summer you might consider doing a post on city front gardens - there are as many variations as there are plant varieties. I absolutely never get bored walking and admiring the little bits of nature folks encourage on their wee plots. And you know it will be the slightly wild and wooly ones I prefer!

  9. I don't think i have seen so many different varieties of phlox before, amazing larkwhistle garden looks like a nice place to visit.

  10. I didn't realise there were quite so many colours - I have a white one that has taken three years to produce about seven stems - I think the early rains helped this year - it looks stunning at dusk.

  11. What great photos, and also love your ideas of combing them with other plants. Great post. You may have inspired me to do some fall shopping.

  12. Lots of great combination ideas - and you know that is something I'm passionate about! I especially love the ricin with the hot pick - very daring!

    One of my favorite pairings from my last garden was Phlox p. 'David' with the tall green and white variegated Miscanthus. The two mingled beautifully since they were of comparable height.

  13. I have four different Phlox in my garden and hope to add more. Love your matches with other plants in the gardens. I pinned this page to remember all these glorious pictures of Phlox...phlox phlox phlox--LOVE IT!!!

  14. Very informative and I like the various combinations in this post....My garden beds are all pooping out on me! It would be nice to have more color right now. I am pinning this for future reference. Have a great weekend!

  15. Thank you for naming all the plants - it makes it so much easier for those of us who would like to follow your example.

  16. Georgous photos and featuring one of my favorite late blooming flowers ~ here because of our warmer weather they have finished blooming. I agree with you that it is somewhat difficult to find things that bloom this time of year. You have featured some amazing examples. Thanks!

  17. You've convinced me! I was wondering what I needed to perk up one or two of my borders, now I know, thank you!

  18. Late summer blooms are so important, especially for late migrating butterflies. You really should add some more Phlox to my garden. They are so lovely and I like the plant combinations you show. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. I love phlox, and I now see I 'must have' a Peppermint Twist too. I haven't seen that variety before, it is very pretty. I had no idea there were variegated ones either.

  20. Lovely pictures! Phlox is such a beautiful plant, I have a few varieties around our property, love it.
    Great post!
    Debbie :)

  21. The colors are so beautiful and very varied. I bet the butterflies love them too, as those flowers here looking like that in flower morphology is very favored by butterflies. I haven't seen them in person.

  22. I planted some phlox this year - all the pictures I've seen of it convinced me I needed it in my garden. Not sure why, but it died - and it was fairly fast about it! I've never actually seen phlox in gardens around here, so I'm hoping it wasn't just me. But if I see them for sale again, I'll definitely try again! Your photos are gorgeous. And I love how you included other plants to combine them with.

  23. Jennifer,
    I never knew how much I loved phlox, until I moved to the deep south. Now I find it is one of the easier plants for me to grow. All of these are beautiful, but the Gold Mine is a knock out!
    ~ Lynda

  24. I have lots of different pflox in my garden too. I just don't know the names, I never do...I like them, they're beautiful.

  25. I don't know what I would do without phlox in my garden, especially at this time of year! I agree with you though about having to water them often this summer :( I was late with a few of mine and they withered up. You have come up with some wonderful colour combinations!

  26. Would you believe until just a couple of years ago, I didn't have a single phlox in my garden? Then I kept seeing them on blogs in the late summer and fell in love with them. I added several to my garden for the very reason you mentioned--to have something blooming in August, although this year they all bloomed early:) I started with 'David,' because I wanted some white flowers, but have been gradually adding other colors as well.

    Looking at your photos has given me some ideas for combination plantings, although I think the phlox looks good with anything!

  27. Phlox is one of my favorite blooms for late summer. And the fragrance on some of them is divine. I love that "Gold Mine" and 'Coral Flame" those are new to me. I will have to check on those for spring planting.

  28. Summer Phlox is a gardener's best friend. Thanks for the photo tour.

    Do you know the name of the white Phlox with the pink eye that is featured at the head and foot of this post? I've been searching for this variety for quite some time and cannot find it anywhere.

    1. Hi Allan, The phlox in the first and last photo are all from my own garden. The white phlox with a mauve-pink eye are actually a mix of two varieties with very similar flowers. One of the two was given to me by another gardener. I believe it to be 'Nora Leigh' and the other is 'Creme de Menthe'. I bought 'Creme de Menthe' at Lost Horizons Nursery.

  29. So very pretty! Awesome color and composition! Loved them all!

  30. Beautiful flowers, fantastic colours. Observation of the nature in the so beautiful garden it is very joy. I am greeting

  31. What a great selection of phlox you show us here... and what a wide variety of them there are. I had stayed away from growing phlox in my garden because of mildew and because I thought they were too big and floppy. But this year I grew 'Nicky', and loved their intense, rich, bold magenta. I loved seeing yours here!

  32. I have a lot of phlox, too. I have a seedling growing robustly in a rather mean spot. So weird! I love phlox with rudbeckia, coneflowers, heliopsis which also bloom all season. Gorgeous photos and great info! :o)

  33. Jennifer, you have presented a wonderful variety of phlox! I love how you have combined it with other beautiful flowers in front of your picket fence for a cottage garden feel. I grow woodland phlox but have never tried paniculata. You have convinced me to try it!

  34. Phlox might work well in my garden. We have quite a mix of shade and sun, some areas are in shade most of winter but full sun half the day during summer. I love versatile and hardy plants.

  35. Phlox with the brown-eyed susans are a beautiful combination as well as the phlox with the russian sage.

  36. Jennifer girl I am in love with your header photo ! It is awesome girl!!
    I am still a "phlox virgin" .. I keep meaning to add some but I hesitate for two reasons you mentioned in this wonderful post .. they NEED water regularly and that horrible powdery mildew ... BIG sigh ... but I know there are resistant mildew ones about .. so maybe I will find one for next year .. there are no good nurseries around Kingston .. it makes me crazy when other bloggers mention how they have wonderful trips to a multitude of nurseries !!!! LOL
    This was a beautiful post girl !
    PS .. hey I plant if I can in the Fall .. I have some major work to get done but this heat and humidity are still on my doorstep .. another BIG sigh! LOL

  37. I love summer phlox too! Your combination of phlox and rudbeckia is outstanding.

  38. Fantastic post Jennifer. So nice for you to pull together some ideas on a common problem. Just wish I had better luck with phlox. I've tried several plants now all with the same result, leaves unrecognizable with powdery mildew. Perhaps when I start a bed in another area of the property I'll try again but for now I'll drool over your eye candy.


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