by High Country Gardens

Phlox perfect pink.
Phlox nana 'Perfect Pink'.

The flowering Phlox are some of our finest native perennial wildflowers families. Most well known are creeping Moss Phlox from the Eastern US, Phlox subulata and the much adored  and sweetly scented Garden Phlox Phlox paniculata.  Less well known are our native Phlox from the Western US.

Living in cold, high elevation Santa Fe, NM I have come to appreciate the local wildflowers, both for their beauty and their toughness. And one of most favorites is the locally abundant Phlox nana also known as Santa Fe Phlox.  I transplanted a particularly gorgeous specimen into my yard about 25 years ago where it has thrived and spread.  Stunning but extremely frustrating! My staff and I could never propagate it with any consistency. We’d get a few plants here and there, but never in salable quantities.

Well last year something changed and we were able to root thousands of cuttings. And suddenly we had a huge crop growing for spring 2013. Phlox nana ‘Perfect Pink’ is ready. This plant has every attribute you could ask for. It grows in many soil types from sand to clay. It blooms with sheets of huge deep pink, white eyed flowers in late spring (and again in summer with the coming of the summer rains). And it lives seeming forever when happy. ‘Perfect Pink’ grows best in areas that get between 12 and 24 inches of rain/snow each year.

And we have many other fabulous Phlox varieties.  Most showy and least known is the incomparable native groundcover, Phlox kelseyi ‘Lemhi Purple’.  To see a mat of its stunning blue-purple flowers covering the plants in mid-spring is to want it!  It’s been years since I’ve been as excited about a plant and its uniquely colored flowers. ‘Lemhi Purple’ was discovered growing near the town of Lemhi in southern Idaho.  Plant it about 12-15” apart in any sunny or partly sunny site with low fertility, well drained sandy or loamy soil.

For the more civilized parts of your garden, we are growing four of the best, most low care cultivars of Garden Phlox; ‘David’ (2002 Perennial Plant of the Year, as designated by the national Perennial Plant Association), ‘David’s Lavender’, ‘Laura’ and ‘Blue Paradise.’  These tall growing plants flower in mid-summer with large trusses of sweetly fragrant, beautifully colored flowers. Plant in compost enriched garden loam and full sun.

Phlox are great eco-friendly plants. There are great for attracting butterflies and moths as their pollinators. Their nectar rich flowers are a magnet for Monarchs, Painted Ladies, Swallowtails and many other species.