Phlox pilosa

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: prairie phlox 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Polemoniaceae
Native Range: Eastern Texas
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Pink to pale purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil

Culture

Grow in fertile, moderately dry to moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun. More tolerant of drier soils than most other species of phlox. Appreciates a summer mulch which helps keep the root zone cool. Spreads by rhizomes to form clumps. Easily grown from seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phlox pilosa, commonly known as prairie phlox or downy phlox, is native from Connecticut to Ontario and Manitoba south to Louisiana and Florida. In Missouri, it is typically found in rocky or dry open woods, valleys, thickets, meadows, prairies and glades (Steyermark) throughout most of the State. This is an upright perennial that grows in a clump to 12-16" (less frequently to 24") tall on stiff stems clad with opposite, widely-spaced, sharp pointed, linear to linear-lanceolate, stalkless, deep green leaves (each to 4" long and 3/4" wide) with prominent central veins. Leaves are often finely pubescent. Fragrant, tubular, pink to pale purple flowers (to 3/4” diameter) are loosely packed in rounded terminal clusters (cymes). Flowers bloom from May to July with a possible sparse rebloom in fall. Each individual flower has a long corolla tube and five flat petal-like lobes which lack notches. Stems, leaves and corolla tubes are often covered with soft white hairs, hence the specific epithet of pilosa means soft hairy and the sometimes used common name of downy phlox. Butterflies love the flowers. USDA currently lists nine different subspecies for this plant (deamii, detonsa, fulgida, latisepala, ozarkana, pilosa, pulcherima, riparia and sangamonensis).

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

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Prairie phlox has good resistance to powdery mildew. Watch for spider mites in hot, dry conditions.

Garden Uses

Excellent for dry sunny locations. Excellent selection for rock gardens, cottage gardens, wild gardens, native plant gardens or prairie-type areas.