Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
The familiar phlox is sometimes used as a cut flower. Yet, these plants deserve to be used more frequently. When you need a change from daisy-like blossoms, these are the answer.
Often used as filler flowers, phlox stems have a vase life of about a week. The individual blossoms are rather small. However, they appear massed together in dense terminal clusters or panicles. These come in a rainbow of hues, both solids and bicolors. Among the shades are purples and reds as well as pinks and whites.
One of the most common kinds of phlox that is used as a cut flower is the annual phlox (Phlox drummondii). Discovered growing wild in Texas in 1835, it was found by a visiting botanist from the Glasgow Botanical Garden. He sent seeds of the plant back to Scotland. Then, they became popular among gardeners.
The name phlox comes from the Greek word for flame, a reasonable description of the vivid flowers the plants produce.
In addition to the annual phlox, there is also one that is often grown as a perennial, Phlox paniculata. This is known as garden phlox. For cutting gardens, this is an excellent choice. This particular species is very prone to mildew. For that reason, I would recommend growing disease-resistant cultivars, such as Phlox ‘David.’ This one features exquisite white flowers and healthy green foliage all the way up the stem.
For the most part, all of the phlox do best in sandy soils or ones with a good organic content. Although they prefer full sun, they will grow in partial shade.
Most kinds of phlox are noted for their sweet fragrance.
So far as varieties are concerned, the Grandiflora variety of the annual phlox is an excellent choice for cutting gardens. This is noted for its extraordinarily large flower heads. These open on tall stems, up to 15 inches in height.
Annual phlox can be grown from seed. To germinate properly, this needs to be covered lightly. The seeds will take about ten days to germinate. Most annual varieties will start blooming within several months from the time the seeds are planted.