Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tending the phlox

Creeping phlox in bloom at my house, April 2011
Leggy creeping phlox with brown areas

Gently pull on dead leggy sections
A little "hair cut" may be necessary for lush growth

So today it was a bit raw out, but spring was in the air, and I could see that some of my creeping phlox was beginning to show signs of buds awakening.   The prospect of my phlox budding was enough incentive for me to ignore the chill and get busy working in the garden.  And as always, there is tons of work to be done!

Part of today's job was to tend the phlox and get it ready for it's springtime show.  Tending the phlox sounds kind of biblical, doesn't it?

Well the bright blooms that grace my yard, are definitely gifts from God to be sure, and I look forward to the brilliant colors every year. 

My beautiful creeping phlox comes in several colors, light pink, hot pink, light purple, and medium purple and for me it is the highlight of my spring garden.  It's very hardy, and spreads easily via rhizomes or runners, and I usually try to break off some pieces and relocate it to other areas of the garden (gotta love rhizomes and perennials!)

Today the phlox needed some tending so that it would look it's showiest in the next few weeks. There are sections that drape over our timber retaining wall, and those sections sometimes get "leggy", or kinda gangly with brown patches.  I assume that parts of it get leggy as it flows over the wall because the rhizomes aren't in contact with the ground, and therefore can't put out roots into the soil to soak up nutrients.   

Trimmed and ready for the spring show!

Showy springtime creeping phlox 2011
Although some of the leggy parts are brownish and look dead, I've noticed that sometimes the ends of it are still perfectly green, and when I give it a "hair cut", the thin leggy pieces are still green inside the rhizome.  These brownish somewhat greenish leggy castoffs are often the perfect pieces to try to save since it's still alive.  I take the castoff cuttings to another section where I'd like to grow phlox, and pull back some dirt or mulch, pat it down, replaced the dirt and mulch and give it a drink.   If it takes great!  And if not, it was worth a try, and with the mulch in place you can barely tell.  In my experience, the odds are good that it will take, and next spring you'll have even more of this showy springtime wonder gracing your wall, border, or rock garden.  Happy tending and Happy Spring!

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