A woodland favorite, originally found along the streams and wooded areas of Appalachia, Creeping Phlox ‘Sherwood Purple’ lights up the May garden with a burst of fragrant, violet-purple flowers held high on 8-inch stems. An evergreen groundcover, it will spread where it’s happy. Growing Creeping Phlox!
Plant in shade to part-shade locations in an area where it can spread, and water moderately. Once it’s established it is quite drought tolerant. Plant ‘Sherwood Purple’ with other spring blooming woodland bulbs for a cascade of color. Beautiful with ferns, Hellebore, Columbine, and Bleeding Heart. It is also an important source of spring nectar for our pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds
Phlox stolonifera, along with most other varieties of Creeping Phlox are perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Although creeping phlox is tolerant of a range of temperatures, the plant require lots of sun. It should therefore be planted somewhere it can get a range of sunlight, both morning and afternoon, especially if you are growing it for its prolific blooms in March to May. In the hottest conditions, however, creeping phlox does well with a bit of dappled sunlight in the afternoon, though nothing too shady.
Mature Size of Creeping Phlox
- Height: 3-6 inches (7-15 cm)
- Width: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)
Water and Soil
Creeping phlox appreciates moist, well-draining soil, and though it likes rich humus, it also does well in sandy or gravelly soils in drier environments. Because it is so drought tolerant, its requirements for a medium water supply can be foregone at the height of a sun-filled summer or anytime water is scarce, but you should pick up the watering schedule again when you can. Once the plant is naturalized to a bright area of your landscape, it does even better with low water.
As suggested by the name, creeping phlox grows low to the ground and forms dense mats that become woodier with age. In good, well-lit growing conditions, the plant self-seeds to spread and maintain density. To help it maintain density, cut back stems by about half after the flowering season is over. This may even promote a second flowering, though it will be lighter and less showy than the first.
Creeping phlox not only produces a profusion of springtime flowers in a range of colors but also can be used to attract butterflies to your garden or to control soil erosion with its tough roots. Full sun conditions lead to the greatest profusion of flowers.
Though a pretty ground cover, creeping phlox doesn’t grow that quickly, so if you want to use it to fill space, make sure to get several plants or be prepared to wait.
About Creeping Phlox
A perennial nature and semi-evergreen habit are important facts about creeping phlox. These plants have needle-like foliage with small starry, five-pointed flowers in red, lavender, pink, white or bluish-purple. Creeping phlox blooms in spring and produces long, spreading stems, which become woody with age.
These thicker growths cease to produce flowers over time and may be cut out of the plant to encourage the newer, softer stems that do bloom. In addition, the plant has a moderate growth rate and can get 4 to 6 inches high with a 2 foot spread.
Creeping Phlox Planting Instructions
Learning how to plant and care for creeping phlox is quite simple. The plant has an easy going nature and thrives in a variety of conditions. Almost any soil is suitable for growing creeping phlox as long as it is in full sun to partial shade. For best results, however, plant it in a sunny location where soils are moist but well drained.
Dig in some organic soil amendments to enrich the soil and water the plant until it is established. Plant creeping phlox at soil level and avoid burying the stem in the earth. Follow these easy creeping phlox planting instructions for years of early spring color.
Care of Creeping Phlox
Little special care or maintenance is necessary when growing creeping phlox. The plant benefits from an early spring application of fertilizer to encourage new growth and flowering. Even established plants should have supplemental watering in hot summer periods and plants along rockeries may show signs of scorching due to the hot surroundings. The stems can be cut back after flowering to promote a second bloom.
Care of creeping phlox may also include cutting the plant back in late winter to allow for rejuvenation and to produce young, more compact stems. Watching for mites and other pests and dealing with these infestations as soon as they are spotted using an organic insecticidal soap is also important for the plant’s care.
Creeping Phlox Propagation
The plant can also be divided to provide more growing creeping phlox plants. Simply dig the plant up, preserving the root ball. Cut through the center of the plant and through the roots with a sharp soil knife or even a spade. Replant one-half of the phlox in the original hole and plant the other anywhere you want more of the colorful ground cover.
The process can be done every few years to create healthier plants. You can also take stem cuttings for rooting in summer or fall. Dip these in a plant hormone and plant in a soil-less medium to take root.