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Best uses

Great for mixed perennial borders or cottage garden plantings. This phlox makes a lovely cut flower and attracts beneficial insects to the garden.

Physical characteristics

A clump-forming perennial growing to 1m tall and 0.5m wide.

Flowers and foliage

Leaves are linear to ovate and green, often with a red tinge. Flowers are produced in clusters through summer, are fragrant and white with a dark pink eye.

Preferred site

Prefers full sun with well-drained soil.

Preparation for planting

With suitable preparation and care perennials will grow and flower well year after year. They benefit from a weed-free well-drained soil rich in organic material. Prepare the planting site when soil is moist and easily worked after the first rains in autumn. Remove all perennial weeds and incorporate bark, compost or other organic material. On heavy soils, raise the level of beds and borders with extra topsoil and coarse pumice or sand. Plant when the soil is moist and warm in autumn or early spring so that a good root system develops to support vigorous new growth. Planting too closely leads to spindly growth, poor flowering and eventual decline. In a border, plants should just touch each other to create a full effect without overcrowding. Always choose healthy, well-grown plants. Before planting, ensure the root ball is saturated and remove the planter bag or pot with minimal root disturbance. Trim any broken roots and plant at the same level as in the container. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball and firm in, water once planted. Make sure plants are watered well until established if planting in a drier period. Plant with some general slow-release fertiliser and then every spring apply an organic-based fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre as new growth begins. Control slugs and snails to prevent damage to tender young shoots.

Maintenance tips

Apply mulch annually to help suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Feed annually in spring with a balanced fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre in spring as new growth begins. Prune off any old flowers after flowering to prolong flowering. This can be done with the aid of a pair of snips or secateurs. Cut back entire plant in late autumn ready for overwintering. Divide and replant to revitalise plants. This can be done in autumn to early winter to enable the new plants to establish while the soil remains relatively warm and the plants can then burst into life the following spring. Dividing can be achieved by lifting the whole clump and placing two garden forks back to back in the middle of the clump and then pushing in and forcing apart with the forks. The resulting clumps can then be divided further either with forks or by hand. The clumps should then be immediately re-planted in their new positions and watered in. Large clumps should be divided every 2-3 years. If they don't get divided then the result is a clump that loses vigour and does not flower to its potential. A barren area in the centre of the clump will appear also with all the good growth around the outside. This plant may require staking annually to hold up long growths. In spring, insert four stakes either in a square or rectangle around the plant and tightly stretch soft square netting over the stakes at a reasonably low level. As the plant grows taller, add another layer of netting as required. As the plant grows you won't see the netting, but the plant will still be held upright.

Pests and diseases

Powdery mildew can be a problem in areas that get humid in summer. Leaf spot can also be a problem.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens

Perennial Garden