Gardens, both old and new, cannot be what they are unless Phloxes are present in all their brilliant colors to enliven the Summer months just before the Fall flowers come into bloom and after the Spring flowers have finished. Phloxes are old-fashioned favorites and each one holds a bit of sentiment within its delicate fragrance that makes us realize that they are wonderful. With the new varieties which have been introduced during the last years, the new effects in colors, the large size and gorgeousness of bloom, they have become a class of flowers unsurpassed.
The Hardy Phloxes, which are the ones most commonly grown in all garden;, are divided into two groups, those which bloom early and are known as Phlox suffruticosa, and those which bloom later, known as P. decussata. It is these two groups which have been improved so much within the last dozen years that they have now become invaluable assets to any garden. The flowers are borne in large heads or clusters at the tips of long, graceful, leafy stems which grow from 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall. All of the flowers are very fragrant and the colors of most of the named sorts are clear.
What type of Phlox to use in your garden
The following is a partial list of Hardy Phloxes which are well worth growing:
Elizabeth Campbell. This is one of the newer and very popular colors. It has large trusses of brilliant salmon-pink blossoms with a dark crimson eye. It is a rather low and stocky growing plant but is a good, continuous bloomer.
Mme. Paul Dulrie. The color is not so intense. The light salmon gradually changes to a pink which is more delicate and soft.
Coquelicot. Flowers are of a most brilliant orange-scarlet with a crimson-red eye.
Fracz Anton Buchner. These flowers are very large, some being larger than a silver dollar. The entire growth is strong and vigorous. The flowers are of purest white and the trusses are of enormous size.
Le Mahdi. The color of this Phlox is a very deep and metallic bluish-violet. The trusses are large.
Rosenburg. The flowers are immense in size, of a deep carmine violet color, with a blood-red eye.
G. A. Strohlein. The enormous clusters of this plant have brilliant scarlet-orange flowers with a bright carmine eye. This color does not fade or bleach out in bright sunlight. Bridesmaid. This is a tall and stately white flowered Phlox with a large, crimson eye.
Ryrastrom (Rijnstroom). This beautiful colored one is a clear pink. The flowers are also extremely large, some being the size of a silver dollar.
Miss Lingard. This is one of the early sorts. The flowers are white with a dainty lavender eye. It is an indispensable variety.
Dwarf Phlox. Almost everyone knows the Moss Pink or Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata). It does not look like the usual Phlox plant at, all because it is dwarf, spreading in nature, with small, moss-like leaves. As it grows it forms dense mats, 12 inches or more in diameter, which flower very freely. The normal color is pink and in April and early May the clumps are simply covered with myriads of flowers about an inch in diameter.
Some of the other dwarf varieties which are good to grow are P. amaena with bright pink flowers; P. divaricata canadensis, (Wild Sweet William), with very fragrant lavender flowers and P. d. Laphami with larger flowers of a more intense blue-lavender.
How to use Phlox in your perennial garden
The Moss Pink or Phlox subulata grows wild and blooms very early in the Spring. Because of its spreading habit, it is usually found growing on the surfaces of rocks, in fields or over dry banks. In the rockery it is often planted in dry corners because it withstands drought so well, and its dense growth soon makes an admirable ground covering, especially when hundreds of small clusters of pink and white flowers come out in the Spring. It is also used as an edging for borders, in cemeteries, on terraces, between stepping stones and in a great many other places.
The Hardy Phloxes are all fragrant and the flowers are splendid for cutting purposes. With the new and striking colors, almost any effect can be carried out in the garden, either by planting them in solid beds where the colors grade into each other from dark to light, or in long beds along drives, woodland walks and paths, or in front of shrubbery; or combined with other perennials in hardy borders. By planting carefully, a succession of bloom, lasting from early April until late in September or October, can be carried out by just using the different varieties of Phloxes. The best effects are gained by planting masses of each color together.
How to care for Phlox
Phloxes need a great amount of moisture and should be watered regularly in dry weather. It is even advised to mulch the plants during the dry Summer months to conserve what moisture is present. They should not be planted in the grass because the grass will get all the moisture. The soil should be prepared deeply to a depth of about Q feet; it should be well drained and moderately rich. Since Phloxes are gross feeders, good, rich soil and plenty of moisture are absolutely necessary for their growth.
The Dwarf Phlox plants should be set about 10 inches or 12 inches apart and the taller Hardy Phloxes about 18 inches apart. Young plants can be set out any time in the Spring. If the shoots are pinched back in June or July the plants will become branched and bushy, and will go on blooming until late Autumn. It takes from two to three years to obtain good-sized and well formed plants. They should be divided and transplanted every three or four years or the blooms will begin to deteriorate and the soil will become exhausted. If the first display of flowers is cut back as soon as the blooms are faded, a second crop of bloom will come on before Fall.
Phloxes will grow either in full sun or in partial shade. During damp seasons the plants are sometimes attacked with mildew. As soon as the first signs of this appear, the plants can be sprayed with Bordeaux Mixture or if powdered sulfur is dusted on the leaves in the morning when the dew is on them, it will soon check the mildew. The latter is sometimes caused by having the plants too close together so that good air circulation around the lower stems is prevented. Red spiders also attack Phlox. This can best be determined when it is noticed that the lower leaves turn a rusty brown. A forceful sprinkling with a hose on the underside of the leaves should be applied. If, however, the attack is very severe, it is best to cut the stalks back near the ground and let new growth start. The plants should be mulched every Winter with well decayed manure.
How to propagate Phlox
Phloxes are propagated by division of the clumps, which should be done every three years, for they tend to weaken in the center; by seeds, which may give many new and interesting colors and types, but usually resulting in magentas and muddy colors; by cuttings made from the stems. Dividing of the clumps should be done in the Fall or in the earliest Spring before much growth has been made. Commercial nurseries propagate by root cuttings. The roots are cut into 2inch pieces early in Spring or Fall and sown in flats, much as seeds are treated.