Creeping Phlox

If you yearn for a carpet of color on a bank or sloping area of your garden, plant some phlox subulate.

purple creeping phlox

Photo: spisharam - AWAY (flickr)

The lavender, pink or white flowers last quite a long time when the spring weather is cool.

If you yearn for a carpet of color on a bank or sloping area of your garden, plant some phlox subulate (sub you lah ta). These are the most popular spring flowers for spilling color over low stonewalls or beside garden steps.

The perennial plants spread rapidly and are about six inches high with needle shaped moss-like foliage. In late spring the plants are completely covered with star-shaped flowers. Plant them in full sun in well-drained soil.

The lavender, pink or white flowers last quite a long time when the spring weather is cool. They can be sheared off after bloom to increase the plants vigor and tidiness. They are perfect for rock gardens and the colors combine beautifully as the individual plants grow together to form a mat.

In my garden, the lavender spreads more rapidly than the pink or white. A mature carpet of these plants is one of the most cheerful of all floral displays in a spring garden. Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson was thinking of such a display when he said, “The Earth laughs in flowers.”

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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