If you take a little bit of care once your creeping phlox plants finish blooming, they can remain healthy and strong for years to come. In fact, with proper care, you may even be able to get a second bloom from them! Creeping phlox is a fantastic choice for adding a burst of spring color to your landscape.
Its fern-like foliage quickly becomes covered in waves of blooms in shades of pink, red, white, or purple, making it a real showstopper in the early season.
This perennial plant is not only gorgeous but also easy to grow and maintain. It can handle most soil types, including rocky and uneven planting areas, without any issues.
There are two main types of creeping phlox: Stolonifera and Moss phlox (Subulata). Stolonifera is the larger of the two and can grow up to a foot in height, while Moss phlox stays lower to the ground and flowers at around six inches in height.
Of the two, Moss phlox is the more popular choice. Its low mounding habit provides excellent interest, and it’s hardy in warmer climates. Moss phlox can grow in zones three through nine, while Stolonifera is best planted in zones five through nine, as it struggles with high heat summers. However, both varieties bloom around the same time in the spring and require similar care throughout the year to maintain their health and strength.
What To Do With Creeping Phlox After They Bloom
Deadheading & Pruning
One of the most important aspects of caring for creeping phlox after they bloom is deadheading and pruning. As the blooms start to fade in late spring, it’s crucial to remove them from the plant. This not only keeps the plant looking tidy but also promotes its health and vitality.
Like with any other perennial or annual flower, spent blooms continue to consume resources from the plant as long as they remain attached. Unfortunately, it’s in a plant’s genetic makeup to attempt to feed, heal, and energize any failing part, including fading blooms.
While it may not be practical to remove each bloom as it fades from a creeping phlox plant, it’s essential to shear off all of the blooms once the entire plant starts to fade at the end of spring. This will encourage the plant to produce new growth and potentially even a second bloom later in the season.
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The Important of Deadheading – Creeping Phlox After They Bloom
When you deadhead creeping phlox by removing all the fading blooms, you help the plant in a couple of important ways. First, it allows the plant to focus its energy on growing thick, lush summer foliage.
Strong foliage growth means the phlox can start to store more energy through the process of photosynthesis, which is essential not just for better blooms the following spring but also for potentially getting the plant to bloom again in late summer.
Believe it or not, by simply deadheading the entire plant as it fades, it can often produce a great second bloom! Even if it doesn’t, it still helps to store significant energy for the following year’s spring bloom.
How To Deadhead / Prune In Late Spring – Creeping Phlox After They Bloom
Late spring deadheading can also coincide with pruning and shaping your creeping phlox plant, and the two processes work hand in hand. If you’re wondering about the easiest method for deadheading and shaping, there are a few options.
While you could use hand-held pruners to clip flowers and stems off individually, a good pair of hedge shears can get the job done quickly. Alternatively, a string trimmer can make even shorter work of the chore!
Using either the hedge shears or string trimmer, cut back the plant to shape it for summer growth. To do this, cut the mound back a few inches. This process not only removes all of the old blooms but also allows you to shape the plant as desired. Product Link : Fiskars Garden Powergear2 Hedge Shears
Fertilizing Creeping Phlox – Creeping Phlox After They Bloom
Creeping phlox can benefit from fertilization twice a year. The first optimal time to fertilize is during the early spring when buds start to appear, and the second is after the bloom cycle finishes.
Fertilizing before blooming helps promote strong and abundant blooming, while fertilizing after blooming helps replenish the lost nutrients and support robust summer growth.
There are various options for fertilizers when it comes to creeping phlox, but compost is one of the best. Since creeping phlox does not require large amounts of nutrients, a few inches of compost around the plant’s base can provide a slow release of nutrients over the summer.
This allows the nutrients to gradually penetrate the soil with each rainfall, making it one of the best ways to fertilize perennials that need steady and gradual nutrition over the summer.
In the absence of compost, a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer applied in small amounts can also do the job. When fertilizing in early spring, it is better to use an all-purpose fertilizer as it can quickly provide the plant with the nutrients it needs to prepare for blooming.
Mid Summer / Late Fall Phlox Care – Creeping Phlox After They Bloom
To keep your phlox plants healthy and improve their flowering, it’s recommended to cut them down in mid to late fall before the onset of winter.
Doing so will not only help maintain their compactness and manageability the following spring, but also encourage new growth and better flowering. Moreover, cutting them back in late fall can also protect them from powdery mildew, a common disease that they are vulnerable to
Dividing & Fertilizing Phlox
After cutting back your phlox plants in late fall, it is a perfect time to divide and transplant any overgrown clumps. Phlox should be divided every three to four years to keep the plants vigorous and healthy.
To divide the plant, gently remove it from the ground, trying to keep the root ball as intact as possible. Once you have the plant out, turn it over and slice new divisions. This makes it easier to create even sizes of new starts by cutting through the root ball with your shovel.
When dividing large plants, avoid replanting the center area since these areas are often the first to die out. Try to dig up plants in early fall, so they have four to six weeks of warm weather before heavy frosts to re-establish themselves in the soil.
One important thing to keep in mind is to avoid fertilizing your phlox in late fall. This can promote tender young growth that may be highly susceptible to winter damage.
With proper care, your phlox will bloom beautifully again next year!