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Groundcover Phlox

Low-growing phloxes have a cool color palette made up of lavenders, purples, pinks and whites.

groundcover phlox-edit

Photo: TANAKA Juuyoh (flickr)

Phlox sublata in the Yachounomori Garden, Tatebayashi-shi, Japan

There are about 70 different types of phlox, both short and tall. The short ones are used as groundcovers, and their palette is made up of the cool colors: lavenders, purples pinks and whites, as well as bi-colors.

In the late spring in my Midwestern garden, Phlox subulata, also known as creeping or moss phlox, drapes over walls and banks in full sun and makes a dazzling display.

The native wildflower, Phlox stolonifera, also creeps but it spreads by stolons. It likes moist shade, and its clusters of blue or white flowers, with an occasional pink, look enchanting in woodland settings. It forms a two inch high mat.

Slightly taller is Phlox divaricata, also known as woodland phlox, which is another spring-blooming groundcover. It also likes shade and is sometimes called wild blue phlox. It is 10 – 14 inches high and a native that has semi-evergreen leaves and bears clusters of fragrant lavender, violet or white flowers. ’Clouds of Perfume’ is a variety that lives up to its name. Divaricata, like stolonifera, spreads via rooting stems, but both types also self sow in rich, well-drained, moist soil. They do not need dividing unless they outgrow their space. If so, divide after the flowers fade.

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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