The perennial phlox of the gardens has been developed from the native species, Phlox paniculata and Phlox maculata. The garden forms are often collectively known under the name of Phlox paniculata or decussata. In recent years the perennial phlox has been much improved, and it now constitutes one of the best of all flower-garden subjects. It grows three feet tall, and bears a profusion of fine flowers in heavy trusses in midsummer to fall.
Of perennial Phlox the number of varieties is almost countless, and embraces nearly every shade of color and imaginable variety of arrangement in the flower.
1) Phlox Paniculata :
Stem erect, stout or slender, simple or branched above, glabrous or puberulent, 2°-6° high. Leaves thin, sessile or short-petioled, oblong to oblong-lanceolate, acute or acuminate at the apex, narrowed at the base, or the uppermost subcordate, 2′-6′ long, 1/2′-1 1/2′ wide; flowers short-pedicelled in compact paniculate cymules, the inflorescence often 12′ long; calyx-teeth subulate, glabrous, puberulent or glandular, more than one-half as long as the tube; corolla pink, purple or white, its lobes broadly obovate, rounded, entire, shorter than its tube; capsule oval, obtuse, slightly longer than the ruptured calyx-tube.
2) Phlox Stolonifera or Creeping phlox :
A creeping not tufted species, with obovate or rotundate
rather thick nearly smooth leaves.
Flowering stems from 6 to 12 inches high, clammy-pubescent. Flowers reddish purple, in small cymes; lobes of the corolla entire. Tube of corolla longer than in the preceding, and flowers larger, in simple cymes on hairy pedicels. Calyx – tube also hairy, with linear teeth, the tube about the same length as the teeth. Leaves, opposite, sessile, ovate, blunt at apex, on the flowering stems. Besides the flowering stems, which stand erect, 4 to 8 inches high, there are sterile shoots, or runners, which creep along the ground bearing smooth, thick, evergreen, inversely ovate leaves, narrowed below into short petioles. May and June.
3) Phlox Subulata or (Moss Phlox, Mountain Phlox) :
Pubescent or becoming glabrate. Stems tufted,
forming mats, diffuse, much branched, the branches 2′-6′ long. Leaves persistent, subulate-linear, linear-lanceolate or linear-oblong, acute or acuminate, 4″-10″ long, 1/2″-1″ wide, spreading, ciliate, rigid, commonly fascicled at the nodes; flowers in simple cymes, slender-pedicelled; calyx-teeth subulate from a broader base, about as long as the tube; corolla pink, purple or white, with a darker eye, its lobes emarginate or entire, shorter than the tube; capsule oblong, nearly 2″ high. It is native to North America. Phlox subulata are very useful for covering rock-work and for forming front lines in mixed borders.There are white varieties in cultivation, under the names Nelsonii and nivalis. Phlox frondosa of gardens is a variety of this species.
4) Phlox Divaricata or Blue Phlox :
Finely viscid-pubescent; stems ascending or diffuse, slender, producing creeping or ascending leafy shoots from the base. Leaves of the sterile shoots oblong or ovate, obtuse, 1′-2′ long, those of the flowering stems lanceolate, ovate-lanceolate, or oblong, mostly acute or acutish; flowers pedicelled in open corymbed cymules, faintly fragrant; calyx-teeth subulate, longer than the tube; corolla bluish, its lobes obcordate, emarginate or entire, not much longer than the tube, sometimes shorter; capsule oblong-globose, about 2″ high.
Perennial phlox is of easy culture it requires a deep, rich bed of soil, and rather moist than dry. The important point is that the plants begin to fail of best bloom about the third year, and they are likely to become diseased in order to get the strongest flowers and new plantings should be made. The plants may be taken up in fall, the roots divided and cleaned of dead and weak parts, and the pieces replanted. See that the plants do not want for water or plant-food at blooming time. Liquid manure will often help to keep them going. If they are likely to suffer for water when in bloom, wet the ground well every evening. This phlox propagates readily by seed, and if one does not care to perpetuate the particular variety, he will find much satisfaction in raising seedlings. Some varieties ” come true ” from seed with fair regularity. Seedlings should bloom the second year.
The Pyrethrum, or Double Feverfew, although not strictly a hardy perennial, yet with a slight protection in winter stands admirably, and its constant succession of small, pure, white double flowers from June to October makes it a plant of the greatest value for bouquets, wreaths, etc.
Those acquainted with the different varieties of the Phlox drummondii would feel satisfied that all the desirable colors were represented by that genus. Still, another species, bearing large, yellow blossoms and dwarf, robust foliage and branches, has been added, named Isabellina. This species possesses peculiarities of its own; it delights in the morning sun, and noon and afternoon shade. Plants of this kind, growing in the latter situation, bloomed more profuse than those that had the sun to shine on all day; the soil and treatment in both cases being equal. The petals of those that had the morning sun and afternoon shade were thicker, larger, tougher, and more of deep yellow; while those that had the benefit of the all-day sun were, in every respect, inferior and more inclined to curl around the edges. The Isabellina is a willing and profuse bloomer, continuing an uninterrupted display of dull, yellow blossoms the whole summer and autumn; should be watered freely when the plants are small, and slackened gradually as the buds commence to form.
Phlox Drummondi :
The is one of the most beautiful annual flowers; and, indeed, we are not certain but we should be justified in calling it the finest of all. It is remarkable for the splendor and variety of its colors. Flowers from the same seed will be found of almost every shade of color from the deepest and most brilliant rose-color to the palest and most delicate pink. Every flower, though of the deepest carmine, has the under side of its petals. of a pale blush color; and every petal, though of the palest pink, has a dark carmine spot at its base. Thus the variety of colors displayed in a bed of these flowers, almost exceeds description; and when they are seen under a bright sun, and agitated by a gentle breeze, the effect is exceedingly brilliant – we know of nothing more beautiful.
This Phlox was discovered in Texas, in 1835, by Drummond, a botanical collector sent out by the Glasgow Botanical Society, who soon after died in Cuba, in the midst of his researches. This being one of the last plants discovered by Mr. Drummond, it was named Phlox Drummondi, in honor of its lamented discoverer.
Phlox plant care:
We know of but few varieties of hardy plants that better repay the grower than this very beautiful and desirable diversified genus, that will afford such variety of colors and prolongation of bloom. In colors, we have them from pearly white to deep crimson, with all the intermediate shades and variations, many of which are highly fragrant, They will grow well and bloom profusely in sunshine and in shade, making them well adapted to any location, and one of the most useful plants we have for shrubberies or gardens – are especially to be relied on for the flower garden, because they require but little care, in fact they care for themselves; are of the easiest possible culture – growing and blooming well in any good garden soil – and are easily grown from seed. Seedlings blooming the second year are easily propagated from cuttings ; also, by division of the roots. Every eye with a bit of root will grow readily. Division of the roots should be performed early in the spring as they start into growth, or in the fall, immediately after they are done blooming.
When stirring the soil around them in the spring, they should be examined, to see that they are not too high out of the earth, as there is a tendency with them, as with most herbaceous plants, to grow out of the ground, or be heaved out by frost. When this is found to be the case, take up and re-set the plants before their growth is too far advanced. You will be amply repaid with a finer show of bloom and a greater luxuriance of foliage by forking in a little well-rotted manure around the plants each season and also, by pruning out the weaker shoots. An occasional watering, should the season be dry, pays well. This splendid genus has undergone great improvements in the past few years under the eye of the florist, in the size of its trusses and the brilliancy of its many fine colors, as well as the prolongation of its time of blooming from spring to autumn