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

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Wildflower Wednesday: Phlox pilosa is still a star

My friends, welcome to Wildflower Wednesday.

I love introducing you to new wildflowers, but, this month I want to honor a very old and dear wildflower friend.
Phlox pilosa
Practically Perfect Pink Phlox is our star....and what a star with fragrant delicate pink blooms that last for more than a month.

Long time readers know how much I adore this beauty. I can't imagine gardening without her.
Downy phlox was a gift from a gardening friend so long ago I can no longer remember when she came to Clay and Limestone. After a few years she had spread into a beautiful pink carpet over the Garden of Benign Neglect. I thought she would always be there to delight the senses, but, she almost disappeared. The summer droughts that lasted way too long and possibly bunnies and deer decimated the colony.

But, she's making a come back. Believe it or not she's very happy in the sunny Susan's Bed despite the shallow soil and limestone bedrock. She gets more attention and a good soaking when the summer droughts arrive.

 P pilosa is a stoloniferous, semi-evergreen native wildflower which can form large colonies. Although, I've never heard anyone call PPPP a thug, some gardeners may not appreciate how quickly it can spread in rich soil. Colonizing is a plus for me, I love that it makes a big statement and unlike some colonizing plants, it's easy to lift and transplant.
There is wide variety in flower color from the palest pink to shades of light and dark purple and pink. It has the sweetest fragrance that wafts all over the garden on warm days. You'll have to agree, a plant like that is practically perfect!
Hairy stems and leaves

Phlox pilosa is about a foot tall in my garden. It has narrow, opposite lance like leaves. The inflorescence is a panicle of loosely branched clusters of individually stalked flowers (cymes) atop the stem and from the upper leaf axils. Prairie Phlox is also called Downy Phlox for the somewhat hairy appearance of the stems and leaves.
Phlox flowers are the classic butterfly plant with their perfect landing pad (flared petals), a narrow tube that is accessible to the long proboscis of butterflies and fragrant flowers that occur in loose, rounded clusters.  The long bloom time (6 weeks if the temperatures stay cooler) means there's plenty of nectar for pollinator visitors from early to mid-spring. I've seen butterfly, skippers, bumblebees, Minor bees, carpenter bees and Flower flies visiting. I've read that Hummers visit as well and since it's blooming late here, they might stop by, too.

P pilosa is found naturally growing in open woodlands, meadows, prairie remnants and limestone glades through out the central and eastern US and Canada. I am especially pleased at how well it's growing in the shallow soil in the Susan's Bed....That says a lot about a plant.

The Particulars
Phlox pilosa
Common names: Downy Phlox, Prairie Phlox, Fragrant Phlox
Family: Polemoniaceae
Size: 1 to 2 foot tall
Color: shades of pink
Frangrance: Yes and noticeable on warm days

Native Range: Connecticut south to Florida, west to eastern North Dakota, south through the eastern part of the prairie states to most of Oklahoma and Texas as far as west Texas, south into Coahuila
Zone: 4 to 9
Bloom Time: April to June (in my garden)
Sun: Full sun, part sun
Water: Medium to dry (but not xeric)
Pollinators:  Hummingbirds, Butterflies, long tongued bees, Flies
Comments: Do yourself a favor and plant this beauty, the bees and butterflies will thank you.

Pretty pink fragrant flowers, long bloom, easy to grow, high wildlife value is how this plant got  Practically Perfect Pink Phlox as its sobriquet.

Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.

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. Excellent post. Thanks for the useful information and lovely photos.

  2. This beauty didn't last long in my garden. I think it didn't like the drought times in our area. I do love it so.

  3. They are so beautiful, Gail. I'm planning to add more native Phlox in the garden in the future. Thanks for hosting!

  4. Especially beautiful with good friends in your closing photo.

  5. Lovely photos and words of praise for Phlox pilosa! I have this and the blue flowering, woodland phlox. They have never spread much, but wow, this season they are taking up way more space than in the past. The plants they have cosied up to are growing fine. I have moved a few, and need to decide if I am going to move more. I look forward to seeing all those blooms soon! The woodland phlox are starting to bloom, but these aren't quite yet.

    1. What I love is that they don't stop other natives from growing they share the space nicely.

  6. I love your practically perfect pink phlox! I want some badly. It would go so nicely with my Phlox divaricata. It would! Maybe I should buy some from Prairie Moon? I don't know. ~~Dee

    1. Yes, order it from Prairie Moon or another online native plant nursery. You will love it.

  7. So far my Phlox pilosa has made clumps, not colonies. It would be most welcome to spread in my garden.

  8. Don't have this one, looks like a great plant. I planted some Marsh Phlox last fall, we'll see how it does.

  9. Battling our internet

    (No more Mr Linky?)


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