Growing phlox can be a great solution to shady, tough-to-grow garden areas. These plants are versatile with annual and perennial varieties that provide delicate flowers in a range of colors from spring to fall. Depending on the variety you choose, you can use them to grow masses of star shaped flowers in the border, rock garden or woodland areas.
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Sow phlox seed in spring. For early flowering, sow indoors in a tray with sieved garden compost or an organic nutrient-rich seed starting mix. Water it very lightly. Sow on top of the compost and press in slightly. Leave on a windowsill. Gently pop out the plants and replant in individual modules when they are large enough to handle, and keep the plants moist.
You can also sow directly into the soil when the last frosts have passed. Water lightly and keep the area moist as plants emerge. Thin out plants once they’re established to prevent overcrowding. Add a sprinkling of organic garden fertilizer before the plants begin to flower.
Tall perennial phlox can be divided to make new plants. Dig up in spring or fall when they are not flowering and use a spade or knife to cut the plant into two or three sections. Remove any weak growth and replant.
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Standard flower watering guidelines apply, but try to avoid getting their foliage wet by making sure you water the base of the plant.
Once plants are 6 inches (15 cm) tall, thin stems to about five or six and pinch out the tips of the remaining stems. This helps plants develop a bushy shape that is dense with flowers. It also means they don’t usually need any supports.
Give perennial plants a leaf mold or well-rotted farmyard manure mulch of about 4 inches (10cm) in late fall. This will provide some protection for new growth from harsh weather in spring and add nutrients to the soil for the following year.
When cutting phlox flowers for your displays, choose flowers that are fully in bloom. Cut with sharp pruning shears at the base of the stem in the morning. Remove leaves that will sit in water in the vase and cut half an inch (1.5cm) from the stem before dropping in water.
Making sure phlox plants do not become overcrowded and have good air circulation is really important to reduce their susceptibility to powdery mildew. Prune, remove and destroy any affected stems and foliage.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Phlox Plants (see Organic Garden Pest Control for information about how to prevent and address pests and diseases)...
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