HARDY PERENNIALS: PHLOX

These can make an immense contribution towards colour ful gardens in late summer, at a time when yellows would otherwise predominate. Every shade of pink, red, purple, lavender blue, as well as white and orange scarlet is met in the vast number of varieties now in existence, and by judicious planning for colour effect, using Phlox between other subjects perfection in contrasts can be obtained. They prefer good light soil and are least happy on alkaline clay, though in this they respond to the addition of peat, sand or compost. They also respond to mulching in winter so that their feeding roots can benefit and a better summer display will ensue. Nursery grown plants from root cuttings will invariably do better than divisions, because the one pest which sometimes affects them—eel-worm—is a risk either from division or tip cuttings.

Badly affected plants should be dug up and burned and it is not safe to replant on the same spot with Phlox for at least 3 years. Symptoms are shrivelled and distorted stems during the growing period.

Phlox can be planted at any time after September up to late April and their fibrous roots should be well spread in freshly dug and enriched soil, spaced at about 18 inches apart. Those illustrated are all varieties of proven merit, but do not of course cover the whole range of colours. P. ‘Balmoral’ is a rosy lavender. P. ‘Brigadier’, orange scarlet. P. ‘Endurance’, salmon orange. P. ‘Gaiety’, cherry red. P. ‘Hampton Court’, amethyst blue. P. ‘Dodo Hanbury Forbes’, large pink. P. ‘July Glow’, an early red. P. ‘Marlborough’ purple with dark foliage. P. ‘Mia Ruys’, dwarf white. P. ‘Red Indian’ deep crimson. P. ‘Tenor’ early scarlet. P. ‘The King’, late violet purple; P. ‘Toils de Paris’ light lavender and white. P. ‘Admiral’ an excellent taller white.

PHLOX paniculata 'Admiral'

PHLOX paniculata ‘Admiral’

Heights of Phlox, as well as times of flowering vary a little with season or climate conditions. Naturally they grow taller given ample moisture and where dry and sunny, they are dwarfer and earlier to flower. An average height is 3 feet and usually they first show colour by mid July, the peak month is August. Young plants produce the largest flower heads, and when plants become old, it improves the quality of flowers by thinning out a congestion of flowering stems during May or June. Apart from P. ‘Harlequin’ which has attractive variegated foliage the P. maculata species make a change from the more usual form. This grows from a more matted type of plant—very responsive to feeding and the stems carry heads of more columnar shape, with narrow pointed leaves. The range of colour limited to the clear pink of P. ‘Alpha’ and the white, purple eyed P. ‘Omega’, both of which flower for a long time from late June, and both attaining 2½-3 feet.

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