Phlox maculata

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 1 Professionals
Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: spotted phlox
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Polemoniaceae
Native Range: Eastern United States
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Bloom Description: Pinkish-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Easily grown in moderately fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to light shade. Prefers moist, organically rich soils in full sun. Plants are intolerant of drought and need to be watered in dry spells. Plants need good air circulation to help combat potential powdery mildew problems. Avoid overhead watering. Plants appreciate a summer mulch which helps keep root zones cool. Remove faded flower panicles to prolong bloom period. If not deadheaded, plants will self-seed in optimum growing conditions. Can slowly spread over time by both slender rhizomes and self-seeding to form large colonies.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phlox maculata, commonly called meadow phlox as well as, somewhat confusingly, wild sweet William. It is native to eastern North America where it typically occurs in moist meadows, low woods and riverbanks. It is an upright, clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial which typically grows 2-3' tall. Sweetly-aromatic, tubular, 5-lobed, pinkish-purple flowers (to 1/2" across) with long corolla tubes are densely arranged in large, cylindrical, terminal clusters (panicles to 12" long) atop stiff, upright, red-spotted stems. Plants seldom need staking. Flowers bloom in summer. Thin, opposite, finely-toothed, lance-shaped, dark green leaves (to 5" long). Good fresh cut flower. Attractive to butterflies, birds and hummingbirds. Phlox maculata subsp. pyramidalis is the form of this plant which is native to Missouri. Although subsp. pyramidalis reportedly has, inter alia, unscented flowers and more pyramidal-shaped flower panicles, it should be noted that Steyermark does not find the purported differences between the subspecies and the species to be significant.

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 spotted.

Problems

Phlox is not always an easy plant to grow. Powdery mildew and root rot can be serious problems. However, this species is noted for its mildew resistance and is considered to be a good alternative to the more mildew-susceptible garden phlox (P. paniculata) in areas where powdery mildew thrives. Spider mites can also be a problem, particularly in hot, dry conditions.

Garden Uses

Meadow phlox is an excellent summer-blooming plant for the perennial border, cottage garden, wildflower meadow or native plant garden.