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Phlox divaricata

Phlox divaricata

Phlox divaricata

This is a vine that has many black berries on a drooping stem and small green leaves. Its blossom has five petals with yellow stamens.The decumbent stem of wild blue phlox roots at the nodes sending up erect branches 8-18 in. Loose, flat clusters of fragrant, lavender or pink flowers with notched petals occur at the top of these stems. The leaves on decumbent stems are broader than those on flowering stems. A loose cluster of slightly fragrant, light blue flowers tops a somewhat sticky stem that produces leafy, creeping shoots at the base.This beautiful species is most common in midwestern woods and fields. It is sometimes known as "Wild Sweet William," a name also given to P. maculata. The mature plants in the eastern part of the range have notched petals; those in the western do not. The basal runners of the lovely Creeping Phlox (P. stolonifera) form large patches; it has fewer stem leaves and fewer flowers in its clusters; it occurs from Pennsylvania and Ohio south to northern Georgia.

Phlox

Wild blue phlox is a semi-evergreen perennial growing 25–50 cm (10–20 in) tall with opposite, unstalked, hairy leaves 2.5–5 cm (1–2 in) in length and ovate-lanceolate in shape. Flowers appear in late spring and early summer. They are pleasantly fragrant and 2–4 cm (3⁄4–1+1⁄2 in) in diameter, with five petals fused at the base into a thin tube.Phlox is self-incompatible, so it requires cross-pollination to produce seed. Butterflies are the most effective pollinators. As they insert their proboscis into the flower to drink nectar, it contacts the anthers and picks up pollen. As they coil the proboscis before moving to the next flower, most of the pollen falls off, but some remains to be transferred to the stigma of the next flower that they drink nectar from.

As its common name suggests, woodland phlox does best in woodland conditions in partial shade and rich, moist, well-drained soils. It is very adaptable and will tolerate dry and clay soils and is even drought tolerant once established. Although partial shade is best, it will tolerate full sun in cooler climates. Mulch lightly to retain moisture and keep the roots cool through the summer. Prune after flowering if desired to tidy the plant’s appearance but wait until spring to clean up the clump, only removing winter-damaged foliage. This plant has few pest problems, other than powdery mildew. Placing in areas with good air circulation and cutting the stems back after bloom can help reduce powdery mildew. Spider mites can be a problem in hot, dry weather. Deer and rabbits will browse the foliage.Blue phlox has loose clusters of slightly fragrant, tubular, lilac to rose to blue flowers (to 1.5" wide) with five, flat, wedge-shaped, notched, petal-like lobes that appear at the stem tips in spring. Its stamens are recessed. Stems are both hairy and sticky. The five petals are various shades of sky blue to violet. Flowers bloom from April to May. (Source: plants.ces.ncsu.edu)

 

 

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