Most phlox are natives of North America. With the exception of P. drummondii (annual phlox), the species described here are perennial. The many types show wide variation in form, but all have showy flower clusters. Tall kinds are excellent border plants; dwarf ones are mainstays of the rock garden. Unless otherwise noted, grow in ordinary garden soil and provide regular moisture. Two major problems affect phlox: red spider mites (attack almost all species) and powdery mildew (P. paniculata is especially susceptible).
From eastern North America. Grows to 3–5 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide, with narrow, pointed leaves. Fragrant, 1-in. flowers in large, dome-shaped clusters appear throughout summer. Colors include white and shades of lavender, pink, rose, and red; blooms of some varieties have a contrasting eye. Mildew-resistant varieties include ‘David’, pure white; ‘Miss Marple’, white with reddish pink eye; ‘Eva Cullum’ and ‘Miss Pepper’, pink with red eye; ‘Miss Candy’, hot pink; ‘Pink Red Eye Flame’, deep pink with red eye; ‘Bright Eyes’, rose-pink with darker eye; ‘Laura’, deep pinkish purple with white eye; ‘Miss Violet’, purple; ‘Blue Paradise’, deep violet-blue; and the Volcano series (white, purple, lavender, red, pink with white eye, and pink with red eye). Varieties with white-variegated leaves are available.
Summer phlox thrives in full sun, but flower color may bleach in hottest areas; performance is better in northern than in southern climates. After setting out young plants, pinch stem tips to induce branching. Mulch to keep roots cool. Divide every few years, replanting young shoots from outside of clump. Very susceptible to mildew at end of bloom season. To minimize the problem, provide good air circulation: don’t crowd plants, and thin mature plants to leave only six to eight stems.
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