COMMON NAME: phlox
SPECIES, HYBRIDS, CULTIVARS:
P. paniculata-includes varieties in many colors ranging from white to pink, purple, and red. P.p. ‘White Admiral’-white. P.p. ‘Bright Eyes’-light pink with dark pink centers. P.p. ‘Vintage Wine’-claret red; blooms late in summer. P.carolina-only in white and pink; no problem with reversion. P.c. ‘Miss Lindgard’-mildew resistant; blooms June and July. P. divaricata-blue phlox; blooms April and May in shady area; grows only 18 to 24 inches tall. Each of these are perennials. P. drummondii-annual phlox; red or pink.
TYPE: annual and perennial
DESCRIPTION: Beautiful and sweet smelling, phloxes provide an important part of the summer garden. Colors include white, red, pink, salmon, lavender blue, orange, and deep purple. The flower heads are attractive mounds of five-petaled florets. The plants begin to bloom around the first of July and continue to do so for many weeks.
CULTIVATION: The greatest problem in growing phloxes is the prevalence of mildew on the plants. Be extremely careful to avoid getting moisture on the leaves, and don’t grow phlox plants near brick or stone walls that retain moisture. Many strains have been developed that are mildew resistant, and these are highly recommended. Phloxes do like moist roots, however. Water with a soaker hose instead of a general lawn sprinkler to keep the roots moist without getting the leaves and flowers wet.
Phlox blossoms were used extensively in Victorian England for sending messages through tussie mussies and bouquets. Not only is their scent delightful, but their message is welcome, for phloxes mean a proposal of love and a wish for sweet dreams.
The word phlox is from a Greek word meaning “flame” and was given to this plant because many of the blossoms were red.
Phloxes have been among the most popular of all garden plants brought to Europe from North America. It was not cultivated in American gardens until it was reintroduced here from European horticulturists.
The leaves of phlox were sometimes crushed and added to water to cure such ailments as skin disorders, abdominal pain, and problems with eyes. The leaves were also used as a gentile laxative.
Phloxes are particularly cherished for their sweet scent. White and pale varieties are additionally appreciated for their luminosity and scent in the garden in early evening.