When carpets of moss phlox bloom across America in April and May you know that spring is serious about staying. Another easy-to-grow perennial, moss phlox clings easily to steep banks, grows snugly against rocks, and cascades over rock walls with very little supervision from the gardener.
Description of moss phlox: Evergreen, dark green, prickly leaves grow on trailing stems. Groups of three to five 5-petaled, flat flowers are held above the foliage. Flowers may be blue, purple, pink, red, white, or striped. Plants grow 6 inches tall.
How to grow moss phlox: Moss phlox is not picky about soil but needs good drainage and full sun to flourish. After plants finish blooming, shear them back by one-half to encourage compact growth later in the season. As with all evergreen perennials, do not prune in the fall. Wait until spring to remove any foliage that has become damaged over the winter. Divide plants every three years after they bloom to keep them vigorous.
Propagating moss phlox: By division or layering. To layer, cover a piece of a nonflowering stem with 1 inch of soil and keep the soil moist. Roots will develop and the rooted stem can be removed and planted elsewhere.
Uses for moss phlox: Plant in the rock garden, mix with spring-flowering bulbs, or use in clumps in the perennial garden. Moss phlox is not a good ground cover for large areas because it gets too thin.
Moss phlox related varieties: 'Candy Stripe' has colorful two-tone flowers of white and pink. 'Emerald Blue' has pale lilac blue flowers and good foliage. 'Millstream Daphne' has deep pink flowers with a dark eye. It is a vigorous grower, and compact. 'Pink Emerald' has long-blooming pink flowers.
Scientific name for moss phlox: Phlox subulata