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

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday: Summer Phlox

I count on the different species of Phlox for several seasons of delightful color starting in early spring.
Right now Summer Phlox is blooming in various shades of pink and magenta.
There are even a few of the white flowered 'David',
a lovely striped 'Peppermint Twist' that wants to revert to a favorite parent color, and
a newer cultivar, 'Jeana' that is an absolute delight. I am not alone in thinking she's a marvelous addition to the garden, every Swallowtail in the neighborhood has stopped by for nectar.
The first Phloxes in this garden were here when I arrived. They were the offspring of whatever the previous gardeners might have planted 30+ years ago and were all wonderful magenta flowered beauties. They are still here, well, the offspring of the offspring are still here and after years of letting species and cultivars go to seed, real treasures have been produced in the crossings of the crossings.
a crossing produced this gentle pink
 What do you think of these two very different pinks? (photos above and below) I adore them and, in case you wondered when I would get around to pollinators, they love them, too.
This is a luscious color
Speaking of pollinators. Carpenter bees are frequent phlox visitors, but, their big bodies makes it hard to fit into the flowers so they will drill or cut into the corolla of the phlox to get at the nectar.
look out for the nectar robbers
They are cheating the pollination process when they get the nectar without a pollen transfer! They're robbing the nectar, but there's still plenty for other pollinator visitors.
Butterflies, moths (including Hummingbird and Sphinx moths) and skippers are the primary pollinators of phlox. Their proboscis are long enough to reach the nectar at the base of the narrow phlox corolla and pollen is carried to the next flower.  

Phlox has all the characteristics of a classic butterfly nectar flower.
  • clustered flowers with a landing platform
  • brightly colored
  • open during the day
  • ample nectar producer 
  • nectar deeply hidden in corolla

If you want to attract butterflies, moths, skippers and other pollinators to your garden then plant more phlox! That's what I've been doing. Phlox paniculata 'Jeana' was planted this spring and I have every intention of planting more of that cultivar. She rocks as a butterfly magnet. You can find species Phlox paniculata at many native plant nurseries including GroWild here in Middle Tennessee or from mail order nurseries like Prairie Moon.
Hummingbird clearwing moth

 If you want to see what kind of offspring you can get from all the cross pollination that will be happening, then don't deadhead your plants, let them go to seed and self sow. The parent plants always bloom true, but seedlings will be a pleasant surprise of mixed colors for your garden.
Have fun out there and keep cool!
Happy Wildflower Wednesday

The particulars
Type:  Herbaceous
Sun Exposure:  Full Sun to partial Shade
Bloom Color: Jewel box of colors
Bloom Time:  Mid Summer to late Summer/Early Fall
Hardiness: From Minneapolis to the Gulf Coast. They've escaped from gardens and naturalized
Wildlife Value: This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies, moths and skippers
Flowers: Fragrant
Water Needs: Water regularly, good drainage
Soil: Rich, moist, well draining. Enrich clay soil with humus and compost.
Care: Divide occasionally. Phlox are susceptible to mildew and phlox bugs make sure they have good air movement and each fall, after the first killing frost cut it to the ground and trash the cuttings, this will keep the mold spores in check since they can over winter in the stalks as well as  eliminating any phlox bugs that might be over wintering in the stalks. 

Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday.  This day is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.

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. I also have P. paniculata 'David' blooming in my garden. And a big stand of a lovely no-name pink. I think I will dub that one 'Gail's Pink' and then go buy 'Jeana'. Thank you for Wildflower Wednesday!

  2. Yep, the phloxes are blooming up a storm here too. Happy WW.

  3. I adore phlox Gail and yours is a wonder.....mine is finally blooming and I am seeing hummers visiting the phlox too. Hoping to see more butterflies on the phlox.

  4. Beautiful photos!
    We had almost 2 inches of rain last night, and my Phlox are bent over under the weight of the water clinging to them. The wind might have something to do with it, too!
    Thanks for hosting Wildflower Wednesday!

  5. Sadly I have only two lonely white phlox flowers and a few dark fuscia ones blooming. The voracious deer have eaten all the buds from the phlox, most of the Autumn Joy sedum, the rudbeckia, and the hosta. This despite repeated spraying of Liquid Fence. The deer have overpopulated (and I live in a village, not the country) and nothing keeps them away. So the phlox are being removed and I'm looking for plats that attract the pollinators but not the deer. Your phlox are lovely.

  6. Beautiful phlox, I really need to try some in my garden. Amazing photos Gail!

  7. I am short on phlox - I have only 'Miss Lingard', but you're making me reconsider. Great photos, flowers, and butterflies!

  8. I don't have nearly the phlox that you do, but those that I have are blooming wonderfully this year with all the extra rain. I observed a hummingbird moth going to each phlox in turn, and refused all the other flowers.

  9. so glad that my new plants are beginning to feed the bees. I felt guilty about removing HUGE lavender bushes, but the indigenous replacements will steadily fill the gap.

  10. Great photos, especially of that carpenter bee--amazing how he seems to hang in thin air! I have some of the species phlox that just appeared in one part of the garden one year, and it's been slowly multiplying ever since. Glad to know it's such a pollinator-friendly plant.

  11. Spider mites decimated my phlox this year so I have very few booms. We had several weeks in May that were absurdly hot/dry/windy and I think that's when the attacks occurred. Recovery has been a tough road but there's always next year. Yours are beauties. :o)


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