Phlox is a classic, full-sun woodland perennial. This "ground cover" plant splashes sidewalks and home pathways with star-like, fragrant pink, blue and purple-ish flowers. With over 50 varieties of creeping phlox, spreading phlox and the new breed Volcano phlox (which produces more flowers on shorter stalks), the flowers are stunning but need to be encouraged and maintained. With a few steps and preventative treatments, phlox can continue to produce healthy perfume-packed blooms.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Protect phlox flowers from rabbits. Rabbits love to munch on flowering phlox. Spray the plant with a rabbit repellent, like Hinder, Liquid Fence or a type of pepper spray (capsaicin). Spritz again when new flowers begin to bloom or after a soaking rain so the leaves stay coated with a thin layer of the repellent.
Encourage new growth of flowers by "deadheading." Remove faded flowers so the plant can put energy into new blooms rather than maturing the seeds in the old flowers. Deadheading phlox can also preserve the flower color of hybrid plants by preventing mature, fertile seeds from dropping to the ground and reproducing ancestral plant characteristics. Deadheading results in more attractive plants. After fertilizing, the phlox may produce a surprise second round of full blooms.
Prevent fungus. Phlox flowers and foliage can be attacked by a powdery mildew fungus. Use an organic fungicide like Safer Fungicide or Schultz Expert Gardener Fungicide 3 before mildew even appears. All fungicides are better at preventing fungus than curing it.
Set phlox in the sun. Phlox plants, and their flowers, require a lot of sun. Place potted plants in an area of your garden that receives at least four to six hours of direct sun, for a higher volume of buds and blooms.
Fertilize. Spray your phlox with a fertilizer, like Miracle-Gro or Dyna Gro & Bloom, at least once per month through the growing season (usually spring) to continue healthy flowering. Avoid over-fertilizing; too much plant nourishment can encourage vegetative growth more than flower formation. Follow specific instructions for your phlox variety.
Water periodically. Water once per week so the soil is wet. Watering the phlox heavily helps the plant flower more, rather than giving the plant sips of water every few days. However, avoid over-watering and watering at night; night soaks can create more of the powdery mildew to which phlox is prone.
Place the plant away from fences and walls. Phlox requires space and fresh air to produce healthy blooms and foliage.