Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Phlox is Blooming

....and I couldn't be happier!
It's blooming in most gardens in Nashville, but I was worried that there would be no phlox in my summer garden. This past spring I discovered that Phlox Bug had infected my plants. Long time readers know that I go to great lengths to insure that that horrid life sucking bug never gets another toe hold in my garden...But, it did.

It's my practice to let the garden go to seed and stand all winter. (A Garden Cleanup Reminder) The seed heads and stalks of native plants provide winter interest and hiding places for  the critters who live and visit my garden. But, I never, ever, ever leave the stalks of Phlox paniculata. Trashing the dead leaves and stalks is an essential first line defense against the Phlox Plant Bug. But, in a garden like mine, where rough and tumble plants do their plant thing~set seed and make offspring all over the place~it's easy to over look a few stalks.

Why trash the stalks? That's where the Phlox bugs over winter! They emerge in the spring and wreck havoc on the plants.* So, this spring when they showed up in the garden, I went on a hunt and seek mission smashing every one of the little red buggers. They're fast, but, I was faster. I also chopped the infected plants down and disposed of the stalks in the trash (never in the compost pile).
The phlox that's blooming now is looking especially good and there's more blooms to come~
I couldn't be happier~I know the pollinators will be, too.


**  Lopidea davisi is a plant juice/sap sucking insect that feeds mainly on perennial phlox. This is not a pest to ignore. I found out the hard way! They can form dense populations and suck the life juices (sap) out of your plants. The clever little adults lay white-colored eggs in the fall in the stems of the plant, behind the leaf petioles. The eggs overwinter  and nymphs emerge in early May. Two or more generations could develop in a season.

Top photo is P 'Laura'
Second photo is P 'Peppermint Twist'
Bottom photo is P 'David'

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. Some of my phlox is just starting but they will be really showing themselves in a couple of weeks....I also look forward to the phlox blooming Gail!!

  2. I have never heard of a phlox bug. Hmmmmm I wonder what they look like? What are the symptoms? My phlox isn't blooming yet. Can't wait until they do. They smell so good.

  3. I had a problem with 4 lined plant bugs once and learned the hard way that you just can't skip the fall cleanup if a plant is infested. The problem will certainly get worse.

  4. The Phlox are beautiful, my paniculatas won't be blooming for a while. I keep getting more, they have been so reliable. Apparently the phlox bugs are in eastern US so probably not a problem here, I haven't seen damage like that on plants, but should keep an eye open for tarnished bugs. I don't usually do fall cleanup since I've been led to believe the old plant protects the roots from cold, maybe I should.

  5. I'm so glad your phlox reigns again. I've started doing the same thing with my phlox. I haven't seen the bug, but I'm always on the lookout for it and the dreaded Rose Rosette Disease. I show no mercy.~~Dee

  6. I've never seen a phlox bug here, and I hope I never do! My phlox all seem to be blooming early this year, and they're loving all the rain we've gotten.

    Hmmm, wonder if Anonymous is recommending wrinkle cream as a way of getting rid of the phlox plant bug:)

  7. That's great news! Phlox flowers always seem so cheerful.

  8. My phlox isn't blooming yet and it will probably be later than usual because something gave my phlox plants a trim while we were in Europe. Why they decided to eat the phlox is a mystery to me...they are usually pretty critter resistant...

  9. If you are a gardener it is always something. I am impressed with your aggressive follow-up.

  10. Well! My tall phlox never looked so good this year - thank the harsh winter? I sent a critter to the Master Gardener lab that was leaving dots on the phlox and monarda leaves. Yup! They discolored some phlox leaves but the damage didn't harm the plants or blooms as far as I can tell. Thanks for the information - I will need to clean out better in the fall, but my neighbors . . . another story.

  11. I love Phlox! I posted a picture of one as well. Beautiful photos!!!

  12. I have phlox in my garden so I appreciate both the tip and the advice on this problem.

  13. I have never heard of that bug, but am glad you managed to erdicate it this year! I have tried growing phlox - they are just so pretty - but the snails here think they taste pretty good, so I have given up. ;-)

  14. Those look great. Any issues with mildew on those cultivars?

    1. Only the ones in shade...and they aren't cutivars, they're the species.

  15. You are lucky to know the enemy so well, because Clay and Limestone would just not be the same without PPPP! My own simpler phlox are blooming now too, and better than ever.

  16. Lovely! I have some purple/blue type phlox blooming. It frequently gets what I think is a disease, and I cut it back to the ground. I wonder if it is really damage from this critter. I do put them in the garbage, and not on the compost pile.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson