Content Detail

Garden phlox is a sturdy midsummer to mid-fall perennial topped with beautiful, long-season, white, pale pink, or pinkish-purple blooms. It is a popular choice for beds, borders, cottage gardens, native gardens, and pollinator gardens. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Phlox
  • Family (botanic) Polemoniaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil
  • Season of interest early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Pink, Purple, White
  • Shape or form Narrow, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Wildlife Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

Garden phlox grows to 2 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. It spreads by self-seeding and may escape cultivation.

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

The native range of garden phlox includes the Eastern and Central United States as well as Utah and Washington. C Value: 1.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Garden phlox attracts bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, and skippers. 

Leaf description:

The deep green leaves of garden phlox are between 2 to 6 inches long and one-half to 1 ½ inches wide (lance elliptic to oblanceolate) with distinctive veins that create a sort of border to the edge of the leaf. They occur in opposite pairs along the stem. The leaves that are lower on the stem may be attached by short stalks (petioles) and the higher leaves may be stalkless (sessile) or clasping the stem. The edges are smooth (entire margins) or may have a fringe of short hairs (ciliate margins). 

Flower description:

Garden phlox flowers are often white, pale pink, or pinkish purple. There are cultivars available with a variety of colors, however. They are fragrant. Garden phlox flowers grow in densely branched, pyramidal clusters (panicles). The flowers have five petals that fuse into a tubular structure at their base (salverform), where there is often a darker or lighter ring around the opening of the tube. Sometimes, little yellow structures (anthers of stamen) will protrude slightly from the tubular structure. Each flower is approximately one-half to three-quarters of an inch in diameter and 1 inch in length. Around the base of the tubular structure is a leaflike structure (calyx) that divides into five long, narrow teeth. 

Fruit description:

Small, dry fruits that open at maturity (capsules) are produced by garden phlox. They are ovoid in shape and have three cells that each contain two seeds. 

Plant Care:

Deadheading is recommended for garden phlox to promote further blooms and prevent self-seeding. Garden phlox with tall stems may need staking for support. Providing adequate air circulation and avoiding overhead watering can help to prevent issues with powdery mildew. In dry conditions, supplemental water may be necessary. Mulching around garden phlox in the summer can help to keep the root zone cool.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Garden phlox is susceptible to powdery mildew, but resistant cultivars are available. Root rot can occur in soils that do not drain well. Phlox bugs can cause distortion to the flowers and damage to the leaves and buds of garden phlox. Phlox stem borers can cause damage to the leaves and stems of garden phlox. In dry, hot conditions, spider mites can become an issue for garden phlox. Deer and rabbits may forage on garden phlox, also.


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