30 May 2010

Phluffy White Phlox

The tall phlox is blooming for the first time. The flowers seem disproportionate to the plant size; like large white balls balanced atop a thin pole - way too big. Altogether, they are reminiscent of fluffy white clouds.

The phlox was purchased in the fall along with about a half dozen other perennials that were 40% off at the locally-owned nursery's end of year clearance. A tall plant was needed near the entrance to the side yard garden leading to the back yard and deck. A white color phlox and a 3-feet tall (90 cm) plant would be a great choice, providing a color that can be seen by guests as they walk along the side yard path to the deck at night, and enticing them with the fragrance. A supposedly tall red phlox 'Tenor' was planted about three years ago in the front garden, but it turned out to be a shocking fuchsia color, and shockingly short - growing only about 12-inches tall (30 cm) and hiding among the tall nicotiana foliage.

This spring, after researching my Carolina Phlox (Phlox maculate) 'Miss Lingard', I conclude that it is planted in just the right environment. It prefers soil that retains moisture but drains well, being at home in clay. It likes to be kept moist. It is attractive to butterflies and 'hummingbird moths' and offers possibilities of extended bloom times. The name comes from the Greek work for 'flame,' referring to many of its intense colors. A cautionary note pops up about mildew resistance.

Powdery mildew is a theme that runs through all literature on phlox, but some varieties are more resistant than others. So far my Miss Lingard is pest free. The three year old phuchsia phlox in the phront yard never gets mildew, although 'Tenor' was listed as a 'poorly resistat' variety in a North Carolina study.

Happy returns have made this purchase worthwhile. Several stalks shot up this spring and are now blooming, well ahead of summer bloom time. Miss Lingard held her own against a windy summer thunderstorm. And yes, the fragrance is there. Imagine the plant once it really starts to grow and fill in.

For The Record:
  • Clay soil with gypsum & organic amendments
  • Full sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • Average water
  • No pests


Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: salvia, hydrangea, kniphofia, phlox, coreopsis, nicotiana, astilbe
  • Planted: sunflowers

7 comments:

Friko said...
I grow the same phlox, except here it is an autumn plant and isn't going to come into flower until August. Most of the plants you mention as flowering now in your garden, are nowhere near flowering here in my cool English garden.

(My blog is general, my gardening posts are interspersed with all sorts)
Priscilla said...
Lovely garden! I'm from CA and recently moved to a colder climate in the mountains at 6,000 feet elevation. I started my rustic garden in the woods and grow flowers, veggies, & houseplants. Have a great week :)
Swimray said...
Thanks for stopping by and reading.
Friko,
I share your comment when I read about gardeners' plants blooming here in the southern US a lot earlier than Alexandria's.

Priscilla,
Good luck in getting your cool mountain gardens established. Powdery mildew should be less of a problem, but you probably have to share your garden with wildlife.
J.C. said...
That's gorgeous. My yard doesn't get enough sun for something like that, unfortunately. On another topic, have you tried "worm tea" on outdoor plants? (See my blog post.) I'm curious if others have tried it with similar results! http://gardening-wars.blogspot.com/
Cherry Lane said...
Nice phlox. I noticed today that one of mine has buds, but is still a ways from flowering. I don't remember which one - I guess I'll find out when it blooms. I thought it was early for garden phlox, but apparently mine are behind!

Yours should look more balanced in a year or so when there is more foliage to anchor those flowers.

I was happy to find your blog today - always on the lookout for local gardens!
Anonymous said...
Aweseome Blog!!! Looking forward to seeing a thread on Master Gardening.
Paulette :-)
Swimray said...
J.C,
I never heard of the worm tea until reading your info and talking to the local nursery. Let us know how it works outdoors.