Phlox still going strong as others struggle

Phlox still going strong as others struggle

Still standing and blooming at the end of July, but what is it? Phlox is one of the heroes in your yard just about now. You can pick the flowers at their best just after the dew dries on the morning of their first bloom.

The word “phlox” comes from the Greek word meaning “flame.” Most phlox are native to the United States. The Europeans liked it so much that we sent some of it their way in the 1700s, and the gardeners across the pond bred it. The phlox was developed into many different variations and colors. According to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello website, an early English gardener named Thomas Drummond noted, “The beauty of that flower alone is worth coming to America to see, it is so splendid.”

The national flower of Bolivia is the phlox (Kantuta). It is considered the “sacred flower of the Incas.” Did they plan that the Kantuta phlox flowers are red, yellow and green like the Bolivian flag? Wikipedia tells us that phlox is a genus with 67 species of perennial and annual options. Look for flowers in pale blue, violet, pink, bright red or white. Many are fragrant. Some phlox creep while some grow quite tall.

Just picture it in your yard, maybe near a rock feature or in a container just overflowing with flowers and butterflies. Phlox is said to have evolved with the butterfly in mind. The flat, broad petals serve as a landing area, and the deep and narrow tube in the center of the flower is ideal for a butterfly’s lunch.

We all love phlox for its clustered heads of flowers. Summer phlox sometimes can grow 5 feet tall with large fragrant flower heads. Give them rich moist soil. Annual phlox is about 1 1/2 feet tall. Blue phlox is a spring flowering woodland perennial of small stature and blue to white flower clusters. One of the most popular phloxes is moss pink or creeping phlox. It will give you a low, evergreen field of green covered with blue, pink or white blooms if you give it sandy soil and good drainage. In July when lots of flowers are struggling, the phlox seem happy as could be.