I worked my allotted hour or two out in the back flower borders this afternoon. I spent most of that time digging out phlox.
We’ve been at this location 13 years. I brought phlox with me that dear friends had given us years ago. One is pink, the other white. I like them because they’re strong and resist mildew, which is unusual for the older varieties. When they do get mildew (which is not often) I just cut them down because they look horrible.
The Dark Side of Phlox
In my larger borders I let them get too much of a foothold and it has turned into a nightmare. I started trying to remove all of it about 5 years ago. Phlox doesn’t stay put and will show up several feet from the original plant and walk all over your borders from there. I think the only way you can ever remove phlox entirely would be to sift every bit of your soil and get those tiny delicate roots out. That of course is just not practical. Bottom line – phlox bears watching.
Here’s What Can Happen
For the past several years I’ve taken out every good-sized clump and pulled out every small “starter” stem with its root in the spring. In spite of that, it’s everywhere. It’s entwined in the roots of various shrubs which can never be totally removed unless you take out the entire shrub. (Not an option.) It’s entwined in the iris, in the daylilies, in malva, in the rubeckia, in the rose bush, and just about everything else. And as long as a little thin piece of that root is there — it will continue to grow.
Even though I hope to be gardening at 100 years of age, I really don’t want to be digging out phlox. I wish I had never let it get started.
I talked recently to the friends who gave me the phlox and lo and behold they have removed it from their borders just for the very reason I’m talking about.
In my narrow fence border I have Phlox paniculata David and Caroline which thus far have seemed very controllable. I want them but I’m constantly on the look out for any signs of takeover and spreading. And I keep the clumps VERY small.
Final Words on Phlox
Be forewarned. Phlox is a beautiful garden plant and can be the backbone for color in the summer garden — but think before you plant. If you do plant — watch for signs of take over and pull it up immediately —unless you want to deal with it for the rest of your days.
Organic Gardening is easy, efficient, effective and it’s a lot healthier.
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