I’m fortunate to live in a home formerly inhabited by over a century of wise gardeners. Thanks to their care, my yard is in constant bloom from April through September. The parade of flowers unfolds with little work on my part: tulip, forsythia, daffodil, lilac, cherry, azalea, hydrangea, phlox, crape myrtle, black-eyed Susan, and tiger lily. Currently, I’m enjoying the season of phlox.
What’s not to love about phlox? This versatile backyard beauty comes in many forms, from low-lying creepers to tall varieties that add height to borders. There are annual and perennial, sun- and shade-loving species. The small, star-shaped flowers bloom in violet, blue, pink, red, or white. Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Groundhogs, rabbits, and deer all feed on the plant.
There is one downside to phlox: certain species are susceptible to powdery mildew. This fungus causes white, powdery spots to appear on leaves. Lower leaves are most affected and will eventually drop off. Powdery mildew is common in hot, humid climates and can be spread by aphids and other sucking insects. Chemicals are available to treat the problem, but many home gardeners swear by spraying plants with a 1:10 solution of milk and water at the first sign of infection and weekly thereafter. Choosing species resistant to powdery mildew is recommended.
For more information about native phlox, visit the Arboretum’s Native Plant Nursery Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A variety of phlox, including a particularly beautiful Phlox ‘Minnie Pearl,’ will be for sale during the Native Plant Nursery Fall Open House, which takes place September 12-14. Click here for more information.
by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator