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Ohio NativesPlantsApril 9, 2023by Colin0Woodland Phlox

Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata): A Complete Guide

Woodland Phlox, scientifically known as Phlox divaricata, is a charming native perennial that brings a carpet of delicate flowers and a sweet fragrance to shaded garden areas. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history, growing instructions, maintenance tips, and other essential aspects of Woodland Phlox.

History and Significance

Woodland Phlox is native to eastern North America and has been cherished for its beauty for centuries. It is commonly found in woodland areas, hence its name, and is often seen growing in dappled shade beneath trees. The plant holds cultural significance and has been used for various medicinal purposes by Native American tribes.

Growing Woodland Phlox

Here are some essential guidelines for successfully growing Woodland Phlox:

  1. Location: Woodland Phlox thrives in partially shaded areas with dappled sunlight. It prefers moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Plant it in locations such as woodland gardens, shaded borders, or under deciduous trees.
  2. Planting: Start Woodland Phlox from nursery-bought plants or divide established clumps in early spring or fall. Dig a hole slightly larger than the plant’s root ball, place the plant in the hole, and backfill with soil. Space the plants about 12 to 18 inches apart to allow for their spreading growth habit.
  3. Watering: Woodland Phlox prefers consistently moist soil but can tolerate short periods of drought once established. Water the plant regularly, especially during dry spells, to keep the soil evenly moist. Mulching around the plants helps retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
  4. Maintenance: Remove spent flowers to encourage prolonged blooming and prevent self-seeding. Prune the plants back in late fall or early spring to maintain their shape and prevent them from becoming overly leggy. Dividing the clumps every few years helps rejuvenate the plants and promote healthier growth.
  5. Propagation: Woodland Phlox can be propagated through division or by collecting and planting seeds. Divide the clumps in early spring or fall by carefully separating the roots and replanting them. Collect seeds from the dried seed heads in late summer or early fall, sow them in trays, and transplant the seedlings once they are established.

Uses and Benefits

  1. Woodland Beauty: Woodland Phlox produces clusters of fragrant, pale lavender to bluish-purple flowers that blanket the ground, creating a stunning display in shaded areas. The delicate blooms and lush foliage add a touch of enchantment to woodland gardens and naturalistic landscapes.
  2. Fragrance: The flowers of Woodland Phlox emit a delightful, sweet fragrance that attracts butterflies and other pollinators. Planting it near seating areas or pathways allows you to enjoy its enchanting scent.
  3. Ground Cover: Due to its spreading growth habit and ability to form dense mats, Woodland Phlox is an excellent choice as a ground cover in shaded areas where other plants may struggle. It helps suppress weed growth and adds visual interest to areas with minimal sunlight.

Interesting Facts

  • Woodland Phlox is sometimes referred to as Wild Sweet William or Wild Blue Phlox.
  • The plant is known for its ability to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, contributing to the overall pollinator population.
  • Woodland Phlox has been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including respiratory issues, skin irritations, and digestive disorders.

Woodland Phlox is a captivating native perennial that thrives in shaded areas, adding beauty, fragrance, and ecological value to gardens and natural settings. By incorporating this plant into your Ohio landscape, you can create a serene woodland atmosphere and enjoy its delicate blooms and sweet aroma.

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