Phlox stolonifera 'Sherwood Purple'
Common Name: creeping phlox
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Polemoniaceae
Zone: 2 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Purplish blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Air Pollution

Culture

Best grown in humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Good shade tolerance. Prefers acidic, rich, organic soils with continuous, even moisture. Species self-seeds in optimum growing conditions. Spreads by stolons to form large colonies in the wild as both the common and species names suggest.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phlox stolonifera, commonly called creeping phlox, is a spreading, mat-forming phlox which is native to wooded areas and stream banks in the Appalachian Mountains. Creeping, leafy, vegetative (sterile) stems typically form a foliage mat to 3" tall and spread indefinitely. Loose clusters (cymes) of fragrant, tubular, lavender flowers (to 3/4" wide) with five, flat, petal-like, rounded lobes appear on upright, leafy, flowering stems which rise above the foliage mat to 8" tall in spring. Oblong to oval green leaves (to 3" long) on the sterile stems, with smaller flowering stem leaves (to 3/4" long).

The genus name is derived from the Greek word phlox meaning flame in reference to the intense flower colors of some varieties.

Specific epithet means having stolons or rooting runners.

'Sherwood Purple' forms a low ground cover with stems growing only to 6" tall. Loose, few-flowered clusters of very fragrant, tubular, purple-blue flowers with five, flat, petal-like lobes (3/4" across) appear at the stem ends in spring.

Problems

Powdery mildew can be a problem as summer humidity kicks in. Cutting back stems after flowering helps combat mildew and prevents self-seeding. Spider mites can also be a problem, particularly in hot, dry conditions. Watch out for rabbits.

Garden Uses

Ground cover for woodland gardens, shade gardens, native plant gardens or naturalized areas. Also an effective cover for early spring bulbs. Also appropriate for shaded areas of border fronts and rock gardens.