By Suzanne Wodek
Phlox paniculata, commonly called garden phlox, is a native erect herbaceous perennial. The genus name is derived from the Greek word phlox, meaning “flame,” in reference to the intense flower colors of some varieties. Paniculata refers to the plant bearing flowers in panicles. This plant can grow 2 to 4 feet tall and is clump-forming. Flowers come in various colors from pink-purple to white, and bloom now to mid-fall.
Phlox can be grown in full sun to partial shade, but prefers full sun. It does best in fertile, moist, organic, well-drained soils. Good air circulation and adequate spacing and thinning will help combat powdery mildew. Phlox needs to be watered in dry weather and mulched to keep the root zone cool. Overhead watering should be avoided.
Removing faded flowers will prolong blooming. In winter, plants should be cut to the ground and removed from the garden in order to minimize possible powdery mildew in the following spring. The showy fragrant flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Another good feature of this plant is that it tolerates deer, clay soils and black walnut. This is the perfect plant for cottage, pollinator and butterfly gardens.
Asheville Botanical Gardens, located at 151 W.T. Weaver Boulevard, is a nonprofit organization housing a collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated and membership is encouraged. Membership benefits include: a discount of 10 percent on purchases in the gift shop, an extensive collection of gardening and nature books in the Cole Library that members can check out (reference collection not included), our quarterly New Leaf newsletter and programs at a reduced rate. The Gift Shop and Visitors Center is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Learn more at AshevilleBotanicalGardens.org, or call 828.252.5190.