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Care Instructions for Carpet Phlox

Carpet PhloxBotanical Name: Phlox subulata

  • Sun Requirements: Partial shade to full sun.
  • Soil requirements: Rich, well-drained, slightly alkaline.
  • Bloom time: Spring.
  • Zones: 3-9

Carpet phlox, also called moss or crawling phlox, makes a wonderfully colorful ground cover. These flowers occur naturally in woodlands and prairies in North America, and work well for naturalizing and for filling in empty spaces. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Soil Preparation:
Although phlox do well in average soil, for optimum results you can improve your soil as follows:

  1. Spade or rototill the soil to a depth of 12-15".
  2. Mix in a generous 2-4" layer of dehydrated manure, garden compost or peat moss and Spring Hill’s Advanced Formula Plant Food. 

When planting potted phlox, dig a hole twice the size of the pot your plant came in. Carefully remove the plant from the pot. Score a vertical mark on all four sides of the root ball to encourage roots to grow out into the surrounding soil. Hold the root ball in the hole with the top of the root ball level with the surrounding soil surface and carefully fill in around the root ball. Firm the soil around the plant with your fingers to remove any air pockets, and water in well.

To plant bareroot phlox, you’ll need to place the roots correctly, about 12-18” apart. Dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the roots. Remove the roots from the package and spread roots over the surface of the soil at the bottom of the hole. Adjust the depth of the planting so the woody crown (where roots and eye buds join) is about 1" below the soil surface. Carefully fill around and over the roots and crown with soil. Press to make sure each plant is firmly set and all air pockets have been eliminated.

Continuing Care:
Phlox requires at least 1” of rainfall per week in the summer; water if that level is not reached. Each spring, apply a surface dressing of fertilizer, such as Spring Hill’s Advanced Formula Plant Food to your plants, scratch into soil and water thoroughly.

As flower heads fade, cut back old flower stems and, in many cases, you’ll enjoy a second flowering. After your phlox have finished blooming in the fall and foliage begins to die back, cut the plants to the ground and remove all foliage.

After the ground freezes, apply a 2-4" layer of winter mulch to protect the roots during the freezing and thawing seasons. Remove winter mulch in spring, being careful not to damage young sprouts.