How To Grow and Care for Woodland Phlox

Table of Contents

Woodland Phlox, also known as Wild Blue Phlox, is a charming native wildflower with delicate, fragrant blooms that blanket forest floors in spring from April and continue to bloom to June.

Its vibrant blue flowers attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, adding color to woodland gardens and providing early-season nectar sources for wildlife.

Key Takeaways:

  • Soil: Provide rich, loamy, moist potting mix with good drainage for optimal growth.
  • Lighting: Grow in partial to full shade, avoiding full sun, especially in hotter climates.
  • Watering: Keep soil moist but not soggy, especially during dry spells, to support healthy growth.
  • Fertilizer: Apply compost annually in spring to provide natural nutrients for vigorous foliage and blooms.
  • Humidity and Temperature: Prefers cooler temperatures and shade; protect from high heat by growing in shaded areas.
  • Pruning: Trim back after blooming to maintain shape and encourage new growth; shallow planting is essential.
  • Propagation: Divide in early spring or fall, take stem cuttings, or sow seeds with proper stratification.
  • Pests and Troubleshooting: While deer-resistant, susceptible to powdery mildew and spider mites. Ensure proper spacing for adequate aeration, consider pruning to enhance air circulation and prevent pest problems.

More About Blue Moon Woodland Phlox

woodland phlox

Woodland Phlox ( Phlox divaricata ), native to North America, is a herbaceous perennial in the Polemoniaceae family, suitable for gardens or ornamental usef due to its low-maintenance nature.

It thrives in dappled shade, open woodlands, or partially shaded meadows, and is known by names like blue phlox or wild sweet William.

With a slow-spreading growth habit, it forms shallow-rooted mats up to a foot high, and its flowering stems die back after seeding, resembling rounded evergreen mounds.

Woodland Phlox Plant Care

Soil

The care is remarkably the same whether you have a Phlox divaricata, Phlox paniculata, Phlox drummondii, or other species. So when you grow phlox, please provide them with rich, loamy, moist potting mix that you find in woodland areas.

phlox potting soil

It is essential to provide them with well-drained soil for the best results. Still, the Phlox divaricata blue moon and other species are adaptable to grow in poor soil types like dry and clay soil when established plants.

Lighting

In a woodland garden, you can grow phlox as a potted plant or directly in the ground from partial to full shade. We do not recommend even growing them in full sun. Only the creeping phlox can take a bit more sun in the woodland phlox species.

With partial shade, you will get a display of blue to purple flowers filling up the garden.

Watering 

watering phlox

Here, the crucial thing is to keep the soil moist but not soggy. An application of mulch helps retain moisture in the specific location where it grows. A damp soil surface allows your plant to spread and produce shoots to grow as ground cover.

Fertilizer

In the wild, your woodland phlox receives natural feeds from leaf litter that breaks down to form leaf mold. In the landscape, you can fertilize your plants with compost by working it into the ground annually in spring.

Humidity and Temperature

The wild woodland phlox can handle high humidity but does not enjoy hot temperatures. For this reason, it is best to grow phlox in dappled shade in Eastern North America and other parts.

phlox temperature and humidity requirement @flickr

As long as your plants remain evenly moist, your plant will thrive. But, unfortunately, it is not heat tolerant. Another great thing is it can handle the winter well without much care, but it helps provide your phlox with mulch before it frosts to protect the roots.

Still, in very icy cold regions, you must grow your plant as an annual phlox or in a container to move it indoors in winter.

Pruning Your Phlox

You can cut back your plant after it flowers to give it a good appearance. The best time to do this is late summer to fall if you do not want them to reseed. Once the phlox stem flops to the ground, you will notice leafy shoots that start rooting.

Depending on the species, these roots can grow fast and readily spread to form a colony.

Propagation of Woodland Phlox

You can propagate your plant in several ways, from division in early spring to fall or using stem cuttings to the seed.

Division

  1. Take a shovel with a sharp edge to detach sections of root cuttings where you want to divide your plant. The best is to take sections with enough roots attached.

  2. Next, dig around the divided section to lift it from the ground to prevent ripping the roots.

  3. Then, transplant those sections in a new location at the same depth as your mature plants. Water well and keep it moist until new growth appears.

Stem Cuttings Taken In Spring

  1. Take sharp, clean pruners to cut a section from the stem at the base of the parent plant. Choose a cutting with at least four sets of leaves and remove the lower ones.

  2. Take some rooting hormone, dip the cut end in it, and plant the cuttings in a pot with a moist potting medium. Leave the container outside in indirect sunlight.

  3. You should notice your plant rooting in about eight weeks and can check it by tugging gently on the stem. Then transplant your woodland phlox into the garden.

With root cuttings taken in early fall, you can handle them the same as your stem cuttings. You can plant them directly into the garden and keep it evenly moist.

How to Grow Phlox From Seed

phlox seeds

The process is extended as the seed needs at least 60 days of cold stratification to help it germinate. You can do this outdoors or in the fridge. With natural stratification, you can sow the seed in late fall or winter in a weed-free location.

The cold weather is ideal for breaking the seeds out of dormancy, and you only need to wait for spring for them to emerge.

With artificial stratification, you can place the seeds on a damp paper towel, coffee filter, vermiculite, or sand in a sealed plastic bag. Then, store it in the refrigerator at 33° to 40° Fahrenheit.

The best is to use equal parts seed and sand to help keep it damp but not wet. Once you can work the ground in early spring, you can sow the seeds outside and care for them as usual. As the weather warms up, you will see your young plants emerging.

Overwintering

Prepare the plants for colder temperatures to ensure their survival. In regions where winters are mild, little to no special care may be needed beyond regular maintenance.

However, in areas with harsh winters, it’s advisable to mulch around the base of the plants to provide insulation and protect the roots from freezing temperatures.

Some gardeners opt to cut back the foliage in late fall to tidy up the garden and reduce the risk of disease or pest issues over the winter months.

Woodland Phlox Varieties

You can find many popular phlox varieties to grow in your garden.

Blue Moon Woodland Phlox

Blue Moon Woodland Phlox

The taller cultivar thrives in well-drained soil and partial shade and displays violet-blue flowers.

Fuller White

phlox with white blooms

It is a beautiful phlox variety with white flowers.

Phlox stolonifera

Phlox stolonifera

The creeping phlox is a low-growing plant that forms a mat with purple flowers.

Phlox subulata

Phlox subulataphlox

The moss phlox is also a creeping , forming a carpet with lavender flowers.

Phlox paniculata

Phlox paniculata

The garden phlox or tall phlox has panicles of blooms you find on top of stalks with lilac-blue flowers.

Pests and Troubleshooting

Pests

  • While the woodland phlox is deer-resistant, it is susceptible to powdery mildew and spider mites.

Troubleshooting

  • Ensure proper spacing for adequate aeration to mitigate powdery mildew and spider mite infestations.
  • Consider occasional pruning after blooming to enhance air circulation around the plants and prevent pest problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Depending on the species you have, most prefer partial shade to full sun and well-drained soil.

You can cut back your phlox plant after blooming to prevent reseeding and spreading too fast.

To keep your plant blooming, it helps to introduce some pollinators to your garden, like long-tongued insects, bumblebees, sphinx moths, tiger swallowtails, hummingbirds, and skippers. Also, plant various flowers near your plant to draw these pollinators.

It is also helpful to deadhead the spent blooms.

If you have moss phlox, the best is to grow it in full sun with moist soil and dig in some organic compost to enrich the soil and water until established. But avoid burying those stems as they will spread fast.

If you want your plant to grow bushier, it helps to trim it and pinch back the stems 1/3 in early summer. Then, you can deadhead the spent flowers to help extend the bloom.

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