Content Detail

Moss phlox is a low-growing ground cover that flowers beautifully in spring. 

  • Family (English) Phlox
  • Family (botanic) Polemoniaceae
  • Tree or plant type Ground cover, Perennial
  • Native locale Illinois, North America
  • Size range Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Dry soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest early spring, mid spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Pink, Purple, Red, White
  • Shape or form Creeping
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size and method of spreading:

Moss phlox is a low growing ground cover reaching about 6 inches in height when in flower. It is a trailing-rooting ground cover. Trailing-rooting ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from a central root system. These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with the soil. New shoots will be formed at the point where rooting occurs.

Native geographic location and habitat:

This plant is native to the Eastern half of the United States, including a limited number of counties in Illinois.

Leaf description:

Leaves are small (less than an inch), narrow and almost needle-like.

Flower description:

Flowers are small, with 5-petals, and each petal has a shallow notch.  Flowers are formed in spring and can be abundant enough to cover the whole plant.  Flower color ranges from white to pink to rosy-violet, depending on cultivar.

Fruit description:

The fruits are small capsules and are not ornamentally important.

Plant care:

Moss phlox grows best in full sun but will also tolerate light shade.  Well-drained to slightly dry soils are best. Soils should be slightly acid to slightly alkaline.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

The plant can occasionally have problems with spider mites.

Amazing Grace moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Amazing Grace’): 

This cultivar has white flowers with bright pink spots surrounding the center of each flower.

Apple Blossom moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Apple Blossom’):

Pale pink flowers with bright pink centers bloom on this cultivar.

Candy Stripe moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Candy Stripe’): 

White flowers with a pink stripe down the center of each petal bloom on this cultivar..

Drummond’s Pink moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Drummond’s Pink’): 

Deep pink flowers with red centers bloom on this cultivar. Its flowers are larger than the species.

Emerald Blue moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’):  

This cultivar has lavender-blue flowers.

Emerald Pink moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Pink’):

This cultivar has light pink flowers.

Fort Hill moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Fort Hill’):  

Pink flowers with dark pink centers bloom on this cultivar.

North Hills moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘North Hills’):

White flowers with deep purple centers bloom on this cultivar.

Scarlet Flame moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Scarlet Flame’):  

This cultivar has bright rosy-red flowers.

Snowflake moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Snowflake’):

This cultivar has pure white flowers.

Donate

Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift