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Phlox subulata

Common Name(s):
Moss phlox, Moss pink, Moss-pink, Thrift
Groundcover, Herbs, Native Plants, Perennials, Wildflowers

Phlox subulata, commonly called moss phlox, moss pink, mountain phlox or creeping phlox, is a vigorous, spreading, mat-forming, sun-loving phlox that grows to only 6” tall but spreads to 24” wide. It is noted for it creeping habit, its linear to awl-shaped leaves (which retain some green in winter) and its profuse carpet of mid-spring flowers with notched flower petals. It is native to somewhat dry, rocky or sandy places, open woodland areas and slopes from Michigan, Ontario and New York south to Tennessee and mainly in the Appalachians to North Carolina. From Latin, subulata means awl-shaped in reference to the leaves. Vegetation mats purportedly resemble moss, hence the common name of moss phlox. Many cultivars of this plant are available in commerce featuring flower colors of blue/purple, pink, red and white.

Moss pink is a perennial that is excellent for spring color. The plant is herbaceous when young and woody when older. It has many cultivars and has moderate drought tolerance. Moss phlox is well known to all as that bright groundcover found in landscapes across the state and may grow to a height of 6 inches. Vibrant pink, red, lavender, blue-purple, or white flowers cover the plant from late April to early May. Shearing the plants back after flowering may encourage a second, smaller flowering. 

Garden uses include rock gardens, edgings, foundations or ground covers. Ground covers are particularly valued in sunny areas of woodland gardens, slopes, native plant gardens or naturalized areas. Also appropriate for sunny areas of border fronts. Drape slightly over a rock wall.

Regions: Mountains, Piedmont

Seasons of Interest:

    Bloom: Spring; Fruit/Nut/Seed: Spring

Wildlife Value: Flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. This plant has low resistance to damage from deer.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Phlox subulata and its cultivars do not seem to be bothered by powdery mildew to the same extent as are most other species of phlox. Spider mites can be a problem, particularly in hot, dry conditions. Foliar nematodes can cause damage in wet/humid conditions. Watch out for rabbits.

6-9 in.
Flower Color:
Pink, rose, red, blue, violet, white
USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9
The foliage of the Pink moss is prostrate with creeping stems. Leaves are opposite to clustered and densely arranged and may have a fuzzy margin. The leaves are semi-evergreen, small, sharply pointed light green to gray-green and awl-shaped.
Pink moss has loose clusters (cymes) of fragrant, tubular flowers (to 3/4” wide) that bloom in April-May. The flowers are red-purple to violet-purple, pink or infrequently white. Each flower has five, flat, petal-like, rounded lobes that are distinctively notched.
Moss pink is best grown in humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. It does its best flowering is in full sun, but plants generally appreciate some dappled sun in the hot summers of the deep South. Good soil drainage is important. Plants grow well in sandy or gravelly soils and tolerate hot, dry exposures better than most other species of phlox. Plants will self-seed in optimum growing conditions. Cut back stems after flowering by 1/2 to maintain form and promote denser growth plus to stimulate a possible light rebloom.
Height 4-6 in. with a spread of 2 ft.
Dense, creeping carpet
Division after flowering, cuttings
Full sun
Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plain
Eastern USA, North Carolina
Growth Rate:
Life Cycle:
pink, cpp, sun, wildflower, blue, drought tolerant, white, purple, herb, spring, perennial, groundcover, showy, red, deer resistant, evergreen

NCCES plant id: 333

Phlox subulata Phlox subulata
Phlox subulata Phlox subulata
Kingsbrae Garden, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0