Image by Sonja Lovas
By Bonnie L. Grant
Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) produces a colorful spring carpet of soft pastel hues. Little expert knowledge is needed on how to plant and care for creeping phlox.
Growing creeping phlox over a rockery or in tough soil conditions provides a nearly carefree ground cover or cascading plant. Consider growing it in between pavers, in a planter or just as a part of a bright spring bed as well.
About Creeping Phlox
A perennial nature and semi-evergreen habit are important facts about creeping phlox. These plants have needle-like foliage with small starry, five-pointed flowers in red, lavender, pink, white or bluish-purple. Creeping phlox blooms in spring and produces long, spreading stems, which become woody with age.
These thicker growths cease to produce flowers over time and may be cut out of the plant to encourage the newer, softer stems that do bloom. In addition, the plant has a moderate growth rate and can get 4 to 6 inches high with a two foot spread.
Creeping Phlox Planting Instructions
Learning how to plant and care for creeping phlox is quite simple. The plant has an easy going nature and thrives in a variety of conditions. Almost any soil is suitable for growing creeping phlox as long as it is in full sun to partial shade. For best results, however, plant it in a sunny location where soils are moist but well drained.
Dig in some organic soil amendments to enrich the soil and water the plant until it is established.
Plant creeping phlox at soil level and avoid burying the stem in the earth. Follow these easy creeping phlox planting instructions for years of early spring color.
Care of Creeping Phlox
Little special care or maintenance is necessary when growing creeping phlox. The plant benefits from an early spring application of fertilizer to encourage new growth and flowering.
Even established plants should have supplemental watering in hot summer periods and plants along rockeries may show signs of scorching due to the hot surroundings.
The stems can be cut back after flowering to promote a second bloom. Care of creeping phlox may also include cutting the plant back in late winter to allow for rejuvenation and to produce young, more compact stems.
Creeping Phlox Propagation
The plant can also be divided to provide more growing creeping phlox plants. Simply dig the plant up, preserving the root ball. Cut through the center of the plant and through the roots with a sharp soil knife or even a spade. Replant one-half of the phlox in the original hole and plant the other anywhere you want more of the colorful ground cover. The process can be done every few years to create healthier plants.
You can also take stem cuttings for rooting in summer or fall. Dip these in a plant hormone and plant in a soil-less medium to take root.