551 Phlox drummondiiCommon Names: annual garden phlox, garden phlox Family: Polemoniaceae (phlox Family)
Annual phlox is a (sometimes) weedy, patch-forming herb that is low-growing to 15 in (38.1 cm) tall. In spring it displays showy, five-lobed tubular flowers that can be white, red, magenta, lavender, or pink and usually have a lighter-colored "eye" in the center. The flowers are about 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter and, like the leaves and stems, covered with glandular "hairs," a condition botanists call pubescence. Important cultivars and hybrids include 'Brilliant', a tall, long-blooming phlox that comes in several colors; 'Chanal', a pink double that looks a little like a rose; 'Globe', Dwarf Beauty', 'Petticoat', and 'Palona' all of which are dwarf plants to 8" tall or less; and my favorite, 'Sternenzauber' (also called 'Twinkle') with tiny star-like flowers with fringed and pointed petals.
Annual phlox, Phlox drummondii, is native to central and eastern Texas, but it is widely cultivated and has escaped and established itself, especially on road shoulders, throughout much of the southeastern U.S. Annual phlox, along with Texas bluebonnet and Indian paintbrush, make Texas highways so beautiful in the spring. If only other states would follow the Texas example and encourage their native wild flowers to grow on road shoulders instead of smothering them with mile after mile of turf-grass sod!
CulturePlant or thin to 8 in (20.3 cm) apart. Pinch out main stems to encourage branching. Keep old, faded flowers constantly picked off, and annual phlox will continue to bloom until it gets too hot or too cold. Light: Annual phlox needs full sun to be at its best. Moisture: Phlox does best on sandy soils but still needs adequate moisture to insure vigorous flowering. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 10. Can be planted in all zones. Annual phlox can survive temperatures in the 20's and still continue to bloom. In Zones 9 and 10 it usually is planted in the fall. Propagation: Seeds of several cultivars are available commercially. They are usually started in the garden, but can be started indoors and 6-8 week old plants set out a few weeks before the last expected frost date. Best germination rates come from seeds at least a year old. Sometimes phlox will reseed itself in the garden.
Phlox is usually planted in masses in borders and beds, much like petunias (Petunia x hybrida) and scarlet sage (Salvia splendens) with which it mixes nicely. Annual phlox is one of the most useful low-border annuals in regions with cool summers. South of Zone 7, annual phlox is a winter and early spring bloomer, fading when temperatures start getting above 85ºF (29ºC). It has been seeded along many highways in Florida and other states where it may be enjoyed in its glory from about May to June.
This low-growing annual masses beautifully and is always an attractive element in annual beds and low borders or edges along walkways.
Steve Christman 05/26/99; updated 12/6/99, 3/15/04, 5/11/05