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8 Wisconsin Native Phlox Species

Phlox — Pollinator Magnet

Phlox nectar is attractive to native bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Phlox puts on a colorful show for several weeks from mid- to late summer. Its sweet perfume lures a variety of butterflies, such as Swallowtails, Painted Ladies, Great Spangled Fritillaries, Sulphurs and Skippers. Phlox is especially attractive to Bumble Bees and Honey Bees.

Why Grow Native Phlox?

Field of Wild Blue Phlox

Phlox are perennials and a favorite choice—from ground cover blooming in early spring to the tall phlox blooming in mid- to late summer. Read more to learn about native Phlox species and about how to grow and care for your Phlox.

These plants sport many star-shaped, colorful flowers when in bloom. You can find a phlox for almost any garden. Truly, their versatility can’t be overstated.

  Tall phlox are excellent as a colorful backdrop.
  Medium-height varieties can fill in any gaps.
  Low-growing phlox works great as a ground cover.
  Phlox are easy to grow even for the beginning gardener
  Phlox have a lovely fragrance
  Phlox can be propagated from stem cuttings
  Phlox are long-lived
  Phlox produce billows of blooms in mid-late summer in a range of colors

History Of North American Native Phlox

The Wild Blue Phlox and other Phlox species were one of the first native wildflowers to be collected by European explorers and exported to Europe. Because this plant cultivated well in Europe, it became a very popular flower.

In Victorian England, young women frequently carried bouquets of flowers, which probably included some Wild Blue Phlox. This flower symbolized a proposal of love and a wish of pleasant dreams.

The name 'Phlox' is derived from the Greek word meaning flame in reference to the intense flower colors.

Caring For Phlox

Fertilize garden phlox in early spring. Spread granular all-purpose fertilizer around the base of the plant, following package directions. Top dressing the plants with a couple inches of compost will add nutrients and help improve the soil.

After the flowers have faded, cutting off the spent flower heads will often promote a second flush of flowers. It also keeps the plants from self-sowing (volunteer seedlings will be inferior to the parent plant and should be treated as weeds). In the fall, cut back all stems to the ground and remove them from the area to help minimize future disease problems.

When garden phlox becomes overcrowded, flower production starts to decrease. To maintain a good show of flowers, you may need to divide the plants every 3 to 4 years. As long as the plants continue to flower well, there’s no hurry to divide them.

  Powdery Mildew

Phlox are particularly susceptible to powdery mildew, a foliar disease. Powdery mildew is typically just a cosmetic issue, yet in severe cases, the foliar disease can cause significant defoliation and even plant death.

In general, the best method of controlling powdery mildew is prevention. Once the disease shows up there isn’t a whole lot you can do to cure it, so putting in a little extra work ahead of time will give you a much better chance of keeping your plants disease-free throughout the season. There are several cultivars to choose from that are marketed as disease resistant to choose from.

That said, if you're planting phlox in an area prone to lots of moisture, you'll want to take preventative measures to prevent the spread of fungus, regardless of the plant's claims of immunity.

Important Note

The common names for Phlox species are very confusing. Different species may be called by the very same names. Please be sure to check the species name when ordering plants to be sure you are purchasing the type of Phlox you want!

Wisconsin Native Phlox Catalog

Creeping Phlox

Creeping Phlox, Phlox stolonifera Height: 6-12 inches
Bloom: Late Spring/Early Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: Violet, Purple

Downy Phlox

Downy Phlox, Phlox pilosa Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom: Late Spring/Early Summer
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 4, 5
Soil : Sand, Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: Purple, Pink

Garden Phlox

Garden Phlox, Phlox paniculata Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Early Fall
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: Pink, Purple, White

Moss Phlox

Phlox sublata Height: 3-6 inches
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: Violet

Sand Phlox

Sand Phlox, Phlox bifida Height: 3-6 inches
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Blue, White

Smooth Phlox

Smooth Phlox, Phlox glaberrima Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom Time: Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Pink, Purple

Spotted Phlox

Spotted Phlox, Phlox maculata Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom Time: Late Summer/Early Fall
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: Pink, Purple

Wild Blue Phlox

Wild Blue Phlox, Phlox divaricata Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom Time: Late Spring, Early Summer
Sun: Part Shade, Full Shade
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Moist, Medium
Color: Blue

Are you skilled at identifying common native flowers? Test you knowlege and take this short quiz: Flower Identification Quiz.

Further Information:

 Wisconsin Native Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Native Berry Shrubs
 Lovely Native Violets
 Wisconsin Native Grasses
 9 Attractive Native Ferns