Annual phlox is an early-season, all-star plant that makes a great addition to containers or entryway plantings where its sweet fragrance can be enjoyed. The mounding habit of low-growing annual phlox blooms in cheerful and bright shades of purple, pink, red, and white. Keep an eye out for winged visitors near annual phlox plantings. This spring bloomer is an especially welcome sight to pollinators that are active in cool weather months, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Best Plant Partners
Pair annual phlox with other springtime celebrities such as tulips and daffodils. Low-growing phlox forms a tidy mound of color at the feet of lofty spring bulbs, but you can count on phlox to continue blooming long after the flowering bulbs drop their petals. Plant it as a companion for spring flower shrubs: It quickly covers the soil around the shrubs with a splash of color, complementing the blooms overhead. Dwarf fothergilla, azalea, rhododendron, flowering quince, deutzia, and forsythia are some excellent spring shrub companions.
Group three to five plants to create a mass of annual phlox for even more color and texture. Plant drifts of annual phlox along the fronts of borders. Annual phlox can reseed, so it may not be necessary to replant each year.
Annual phlox's rich, vibrant color blossoms always attract attention, blending well with a host of container garden plants. Look for new varieties, such as those in the Gisele series, which are bred to withstand heat and have excellent drought tolerance. These new annual phlox bloom from early spring right through the heat of summer and then unfurl a bold bloom show when temperatures drop in fall.
Annual Phlox Care Must-Knows
Plant annual phlox in full sun and well-drained soil. If the garden bed receives some afternoon shade in the heat of summer, that's a plus. Annual phlox can be started from seed or grown from transplants purchased at a nursery in early spring. Fertilize plants with an all-purpose fertilizer in early summer to encourage several more months of flowering. Cover the soil around plants with a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch to conserve soil moisture.
Look for These New Varieties
'Gisele Hot Pink' wakes up the garden with almost-neon-pink blooms on plants that grow 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide. 'Gisele Pink' is a light pink flowering variety that has a dark pink flower center. Bred to bloom nonstop in all types of weather, 'Gisele Pink' grows 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide. 'Popstars Blue' and 'Popstars Red' are also exceptionally heat tolerant and have finely cut star-shape flowers.
More Varieties of Annual Phlox
Astoria Blue Phlox is a long-blooming variety with lovely lavender-blue flowers and a mounding habit. It grows 24 inches tall and 30 inches wide.
Phlox drumondii 'Crystal Series' offers fringed flowers in a range of colors. It grows 14 inches tall and wide.
Intensia Blueberry Phlox attracts butterflies with its profusion of blue-purple flowers from spring to fall. It grows 12 inches tall and wide.
Intensia Cabernet Phlox is a delightful selection with rich purple-pink flowers from spring to fall. It grows 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
Intensia Lavender Glow Phlox thrives in hot and cool weather, producing clusters of lavender-pink flowers on a plant that grows 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
Intensia Orchid Blast Phlox offers tons of orchid-pink flowers on a mounding, disease-resistant plant. It grows 1 foot tall and wide.
Intensia White Phlox is a floriferous selection with sparkling white flowers on a disease-resistant plant that grows 1 foot tall and wide.
Phloxy Lady Pink Phlox has a longer bloom season than most and shows off lovely pink flowers. It grows 1 foot tall and wide.
Plant Annual Phlox With:
Nasturtiums are so versatile. They grow easily from seed sown directly in your garden's poorest soil, they bloom all season until frost, and they are never greedy about food or fertilizer. Nasturtiums are available in either spreading or climbing types. Plant spreading types in large containers to spill over the sides. Plant them alongside wide paths to soften the sides for a romantic look. Use nasturtium to brighten a rock garden or between paving stones. Plant them at the edges of beds and borders to fill in between other plants and add soft, flowing color. Train climbing types up trellises or alongside fences. The leaves and flowers are edible; use them as a showy plate garnish or to jazz up salads.
Verbena is a spreading plant ideal for cascading over retaining walls, pots, baskets, and window boxes. As long as the soil is extremely well-drained, verbena will reward gardeners with countless clusters of small blooms all season. It's fairly drought-tolerant, making it a great choice for hanging baskets, rock gardens, planting in cracks between stones, and other tight places. One annual verbena, 'Imagination', is a standout for taking the hottest, driest conditions. It will even do well in a clay strawberry pot!
Like a tiny petunia on steroids, calibrachoa (also called million bells) grows and flowers at an amazing rate. Often confused for a petunia, million bells makes a splash no matter where you put it in the garden. It is perfect for containers or hanging baskets but also can be tucked into the front of a border where it will spill out onto a sidewalk or patio. In fact, it may be the ultimate "spiller" for container gardens as long as you give it ample water and fertilizer, which it needs to fuel its astounding growth. Shown: MiniFamous Compact Red calibrachoa