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Phlox pilosa

Common Name(s):
Downy phlox, Prairie phlox
Herbs, Native Plants, Perennials, Wildflowers

Phlox pilosa, commonly known as prairie phlox or downy phlox, is native from Connecticut to Ontario and Manitoba south to Louisiana and Florida.  It is a long blooming herbaceous perennial in the Polemoniaceae family. It is typically found it in rocky or dry open woods, valleys, thickets, meadows, prairies, and glades. Its rhizomes form clumps that allow it to spread easily. Its upright stems have widely spaced opposite 4-inch long linear to lanceolate dark green leaves with sharp tips. The specific epithet pilosa means hairy and refers to the soft white hairs on the stems, leaves, and corolla tubes and the common name of downy phlox. The flowers are showy and fragrant and extremely attractive to butterflies. It naturalizes easily and is right at home in a rock or cottage or native planting bed. It is a medium water use plant and requires a medium amount of maintenance, needing to be kept from spreading into unwanted areas.

This plant is excellent for dry sunny locations. Excellent selection for rock gardens, cottage gardens, wild gardens, native plant gardens or prairie-type areas.

The USDA currently lists nine different subspecies for this plant (deamii, detonsa, fulgida, latisepala, ozarkana, pilosa, pulcherima, riparia and sangamonensis).

Regions:  Piedmont, Coastal plains

Seasons of Interest:

     Bloom:  Spring- Summer, May-July       Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Summer

Wildlife Value: This plant has low resistant to damage by deer.  Its flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No serious insect or disease problems. Dry conditions can promote spider mite infestations. It has resistance to powdery mildew. 

Late spring to summer
1-1.5 ft.
Flower Color:
Pink to pale purple
USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9
Prairie Phlox is an upright perennial that grows in a clump to 12-16" (less frequently to 24") tall on stiff stems clad with opposite, widely-spaced, sharp-pointed, linear to linear-lanceolate, stalkless, deep green leaves (each to 4" long and 3/4" wide) with prominent central veins. The leaves, which are opposite with a smooth margin, are often finely pubescent.
The flowers of the Prairie Phlox bloom from May to July with a possible sparse rebloom in fall. Each individual flower has a long corolla tube and five flat petal-like lobes which lack notches. Stems, leaves, and corolla tubes are often covered with soft white hairs, hence the specific epithet of pilosa means soft-hairy and the sometimes used common name of downy phlox. Fragrant, tubular, pink to pale purple flowers (to 3/4” diameter) are loosely packed in rounded terminal clusters (cymes).
Herbaceous perennial
Grow Prairie Phlox in fertile, moderately dry to moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It does best in full sun. It is more tolerant of drier soils than most other species of phlox. It will appreciate a summer mulch which helps keep the root zone cool. Spreads by rhizomes to form clumps and is easily grown from seed.
Easily grown from seed, rhizomes
Connecticut to Ontario and Manitoba south to Louisiana and Florida
Eastern Texas
naturalize, cpp, showy flowers, drought tolerant, herb, deer resistant, cottage garden, rock garden, fragrant flowers, wildlife

NCCES plant id: 3234

Phlox pilosa Phlox pilosa
Joshua Mayer, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Phlox pilosa Flower close up
Joshua Mayer, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Phlox pilosa Leaves have downy hairs on them
Phlox pilosa Phlox pilosa flower detail
Debbie Roos