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Moss Phlox

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January 29, 2019

The flowers of moss phlox are a sure sign that spring has arrived today on Southern Gardening. 

With all of the new plants being developed and promoted, sometimes we forget about a tried and true perennial such as moss phlox, Phlox subulata.  You may call it a different name such as moss pink, ground pink, or creeping phlox.  In the early spring it is hard not to notice the blankets of color along driveways, on banks, and sites that let you know where a house once stood. 

Because moss phlox has been around for so long many times it is marketed simply as the color of the flower.  There are good landscape selections of moss phlox available and include:

  • Candy Stripe, white and pink bi-color
  • Atropurpurea, dark magenta
  • White delight, white
  • Emerald blue, lavender

Moss phlox endure harsh winters and hot summers.  It has few insect pests.  Be sure to plant in a mass of several plants. 

Moss phlox is tolerant of many conditions; however it does not tolerate poor drainage.  It will quickly succumb to crown rot.  When planting, be sure to plant the crown of the plant above the surrounding grade. 

Moss phlox will commonly get a bald spot in the center of the plant.  This is easily fixed.  After flowering remove any dead stems that have built up.  Prune the plant back to about one half of the original diameter.  Lightly clip the top to even out foliage.  New growth will sprout up and next spring you will have an abundant carpet of flowers. 

At a time of year when we are being bombarded with catalogs hyping the newest and greatest plants for the landscape, sometimes you need to take a step back to appreciate a garden classic. 

I am horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening. 

Department: Coastal Research & Extension Center

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