Not very common in Italian gardens, phlox are much loved in America and in the rest of Europe, where they find space in the perennial and annual beds. It is a genus that counts some dozens of annual and perennial plants, of North American and Asian origin, of easy cultivation and abundant flowering.
In the garden are mainly cultivated the annual species, of small size, and some perennial hybrid species and varieties, often derived from the species Phlox paniculata, a vigorous perennial North American, which reaches 50-70 cm in height. Creeping or dwarf varieties, such as Phlox subulata and phlox sibirica, which does not exceed 25-35 cm in height, producing a real cushion of flowers.
Phloxes, perennial and annual, begin to bloom in early spring, producing small star-shaped flowers, typically in shades of pink, with an eye in contrasting color; some varieties produce a single amazing flowering, covering themselves completely with flowers, while others, above all among the hybrid varieties, produce some blooms until the summer.
These plants are also widely used in the rock garden, where they display their delicate foliage.
These plants prefer partially shaded, very bright, but sheltered from direct sunlight especially in the hottest weeks of June and July; a strong spring insolation leads to a flowering of shorter duration.
They love a fresh and rich soil, well worked and enriched with manure or with decomposing organic material; perennial varieties are planted in autumn, while annual varieties are planted in spring, or in late winter in warm seedbeds.
To obtain a rich flowering of seedlings sprouted from seed it is necessary to trim them as soon as they produce a good number of leaves, to encourage them to sprout laterally, giving rise to a small cushion of leaves.
After placing them in the garden, water the soil well; this operation will be repeated every time the soil is dry; plants that have been planted for a long time can withstand short periods of drought, but if watered regularly they tend to develop more vigorously and produce more flowers.
Every 12-15 days, throughout the growing season, we supply specific fertilizer for flowering plants, dissolved in the water used for watering.
To encourage the production of new flowers it is good to remove the withered buds that may have remained on the plant.
Propagate the Phlox
These plants have been placed in gardens for decades, which is why most phlox specimens found in nurseries are hybrids, there are hardly any plants of various species. For this reason, propagation by seed, especially perennial varieties, leads to the production of plants that are not perfectly identical to those from which the seeds were taken. If we intend to expand a large flowerbed of mixed flowers, the color of the flowers we will get from our sown plants may not be fundamental, so sowing can be a good way to get lots of seedlings quickly.
In this case it is good to keep the seeds taken in spring and summer, keep them in a cool and dry place throughout the winter, and sow them in January-February in a seedbed kept in a warm place; we will prepare a seedbed using peat and sand in equal parts, well moistened, on which we will place our small seeds well spaced. In the first weeks of life of young newly sprouted plants is fundamental the air humidity rate, because small seedlings can dry up in a short period of time.
For this reason, after sowing, the seedbeds are usually placed in a closed transparent plastic bag; in this way the germination of the seeds can be controlled and at the same time the environmental humidity is kept high.
Flox - Phlox: Dwellings of phloxes
When the young seedlings can be handled, they are buried in individual containers, ciming them about half their height, to encourage them to produce side shoots.
These plants can be planted in the spring, when the climate is mild.
If, on the other hand, we want to widen our phlox spot, and we want the new plants to be the same color, it will be necessary to divide the clumps; this operation consists practically in the subdivision of the plants, so as to obtain specimens completely identical to the original specimen.
The division of perennials is practiced in autumn, when the plants are preparing for winter rest; the plants are removed from the ground and with a sharp knife subdivides the bread of stems, leaves and roots, in portions that will then be buried individually; in this way more space is granted to each single portion, so that it can be enlarged.