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Phlox subulata

Phonetic Spelling
FLOCKS sub-yoo-LAH-tah
Description

Phlox subulata, commonly called Moss Phlox, Moss Pink, Mountain Phlox or Creeping Phlox, is a vigorous, dense, spreading, mat-forming, sun-loving dwarf evergreen shrub phlox that grows to only 6” tall but spreads to 24” wide and is cushion-like. It is noted for its 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. This plant blooms in early to mid-spring and sparsely until frost. Key identifiers include its needle-like leaves and the anthocyanin-pigmented flowers with notched 'petals'. This plant is used as ground cover, and on slopes. Older planting thin out as blooms on new growth away from the center of the plant. 

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, dense growth and smaller flowering. When pruning, take care not to cut into the secondary xylem. This plant prefers sunny sites with well-drained, slightly alkaline soils. This plant is relatively pest and disease-free.

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. 

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Seasons of Interest:

    Bloom: Spring; Fruit/Nut/Seed: Spring

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.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Short, green, linear leaves
  • Flowers salverform, lobes are notched at apex
  • Calyx lobes are green and subulate
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#purple#hummingbirds#red#white#butterflies#evergreen#pink#sun#blue#drought tolerant#spring#perennial#herbs#wildlife plant#wildflowers#showy#flowering#cpp#low flammability#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#rock garden#fire resistant#groundcover#woodland#naturalizes#native wildflower#fantz#hummingbird
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#purple#hummingbirds#red#white#butterflies#evergreen#pink#sun#blue#drought tolerant#spring#perennial#herbs#wildlife plant#wildflowers#showy#flowering#cpp#low flammability#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#rock garden#fire resistant#groundcover#woodland#naturalizes#native wildflower#fantz#hummingbird
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Phlox
    Species:
    subulata
    Family:
    Polemoniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern and central United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape. This plant has low resistance to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Spreading
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Pink moss has loose, terminal, subflattened clusters (cymes) of fragrant, tubular flowers (to 3/4” wide) that bloom in April-May. The flowers are red-purple to bluish-purple, pink or infrequently white. Each flower has five, flat, petal-like, rounded lobes that are distinctively notched. Calyx is 5-lobed, green, and lobes are subulate. Corolla is salverform, 5-lobed, emarginate, and less than an inch in size. Lobes are awl-shaped.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Velvety
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Subulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    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, simple, linear to subulate, acute, entire, semi-rigid, sharply pointed light green to gray-green and awl-shaped. They grow up to an inch in length.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Rock Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Fire