Tall garden phlox are a beauty to behold. The large, dense flower clusters, produced in abundance during summer, are perched on tall, strong stems that rise just above the dark green foliage.
Phlox 'New Hybrids Mix' is a perennial, cultivated strain which blooms in the most beautiful free-flowering colour mixture. It features an improved colour range from white, salmon, salmon rose and salmon red to deep rose, purple, violet, burgundy and carmine. Each bud unfurls one behind the other enabling the plant to bloom continually throughout summer. They will flower in the first year, around August if sown early January.
Gardeners have always enjoyed border phlox. This elegant perennial is ideal for a moist border in sun or partial shade. They make good cut flowers and are attractive to butterflies. The colours are wonderful, the sweetly fragrant, evening scent is captivating and they are very easy to grow.
Sowing: Sow in winter through to summer or sow in late autumn.
Sow January to March for flowering the first year and for cut flower production (Blooms from August onwards) Sow April to July for flowering the following year. Sow in October to overwinter. Approx 32 weeks are needed from seeding to bloom.
Some seeds need a period of moisture and cold before they will germinate. If you are not planting in autumn / winter, where temperatures are cold, this period can be artificially stimulated by placing the seed in a refrigerator.
Fridges are usually set to 4°C (39°F) which is the perfect temperature for seeds that need the cold to stimulate germination. (Do not place them in the freezer, they will die!) Moisten the seeds by soaking for ten minutes then place them in a polythene bag containing a little damp compost or vermiculite. Leave for four weeks then bring out and sow the seeds in cells or pots for germination
Sow seeds in pots or cells containing a moist seed starting mix (John Innes or similar). Cover with vermiculite or a sprinkling of fine compost. Germination usually takes 14 to 28 days at 0 to 4°C (32-39°F), or 7 to 14 days at 15 to 18 °C (59-64°F)
Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, (about 3-4 weeks after sowing) transplant to individual pots, 8-10cm (3-4in) and grow on at around 10°C. Pinching the top once after transplanting promotes a compact plant habit and will increase the quantity of flowers.
These perennial flowers are often used as background plants in narrow borders or in groups between taller and shorter plants in a wide border. If planted in containers make sure the soil used is a well-drained premium potting mix.
Plant this perennial as you would most others making sure that there is good drainage. (Do not plant in boggy or consistently wet soils). When planting out, set the crown of each plant about 4cm (1½in) below the soil surface. New Hybrids Mix has good resistance to powdery mildew, but make sure they're neither crowded nor shaded when you plant them. Space 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) apart. Use nets to keep the stems upright and protect the outdoors against wind damage.
Plants can be given them the "Chelsea Chop" - cut them back at the end of May - to create shorter, bushier plants. To enhance flower production and good health fertilize in early spring and again in early summer with a good flower food or an organic fertiliser. Divide congested plants in March to April.
Once established, garden phlox need little attention to watering but give them some water during extended dry periods in summer. You'll know they need a drink if and when the foliage wilts during dry spells. When the plant is totally dormant in late autumn or early winter, dead foliage can be trimmed back to the ground.
Cut flower stems can be harvested, when first flowers per stem are just open. Remove the bottom leaves. Vase life: 6 to10 days. After harvest, cut back the plants and the following flower will appear 8 to 10 weeks later. 2 to 3 harvests per year are possible.
Cottage/Informal Gardens, Borders, Containers, Cut Flower.
Phlox is a genus of 67 species of annual or perennial flowering plants, most species are native to temperate North America but a few species are also from north-eastern Asia. Some species flower in early spring while others flower in summer into autumn. They are found growing in diverse habitats from alpine locations to open woodlands and prairies. Flowers range in colour from pale blue to bright red to white. Some species such as Phlox glaberrima (Smooth Phlox) grow to 1.5 m tall, while others, such as Phlox stolonifera (Creeping Phlox), form low mats only a few centimetres in height.
As was the case with many other indigenous plants, notably asters, phlox didn't command much respect in their homeland until they made the trip to European gardens and back again. Phlox were among the early exports, arriving in England in the 1700's and quickly becoming a garden staple.
Several species of phlox are commonly cultivated in gardens. Most cultivated phlox, with the notable exception of Phlox drummondii (Drummond phlox), are perennial.
The plant is often confused with look-alike native hesperis matronalis, Dames Rocket, but they can be easily identified by their flowers, phlox have five petals, Dames Rocket has only four.
Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy, took the name phlox from the Latin for a flame-coloured flower, which is from the Greek φλόξ, meaning 'flame'. Which is a little odd in a genus where the most common colours range from pure white through pinks and magentas to lilacs and purples. It is only in the modern era that you have been able to score orange and red hybrids.
The specific epithet paniculata is taken from the Latin panicula meaning ‘with branched-racemose or cymose inflorescence’, ‘tufted’, ‘paniculate’, or ‘with panicles’. This name is in reference to the flowers of this species.
The plural for phlox is phlox or phloxes
An English Folk Melody:
How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We'll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you'll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart's ease and phlox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentian, lupin and tall hollyhocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots
In an English country garden
Like most folk songs there is often variance about features of the song. For this song, even the name is often varied – appearing sometimes as Country Gardens, sometimes English Country Gardens, and even as In an English Country Garden.
The tune of Country Gardens can be traced to 1728 where it appears in “The Quaker’s Opera”, a comic opera that includes the song The Vicar of Bray.
- Additional Information
Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 80 seeds / gram Family Polemoniaceae Genus Phlox Species paniculata Cultivar New Hybrids Mix Synonym Phlox decussata Common Name Garden Phlox, Perennial Phlox. Other Common Names Summer Phlox, Fall or Annual Phlox, Tall Phlox Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Variety of shades - mauve, white, red and pink Natural Flower Time Summer to mid autumn - July till October Height 90cm (36in) Spread 38 to 45cm (15 to 18in) Aspect Full sun Soil Well-drained/light, Moist with good drainage. Time to Sow Sow in winter through to summer or sow in late autumn Germination 14 to 28 days at 0 to 4°C (32 to 39°F) Notes Sow January to March for flowering in the first year