Woodland Phlox Knocks My Socks Off: Wildflower Wednesday

– Posted in: Native/Invasive, The Secret Garden

I bought a small pot of ‘Blue Moon’ woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) in 2013. It was kind of over its bloom period when I bought it, so I didn’t expect much. The following year, it was nice enough, but nothing to write home about.

Phlox divaricata Blue Moon woodland phlox

A year after I bought it, it’s pretty, but not spectacular.

The following year (which was last year) it bulked up enough that I decided to divide it and plant some divisions in the Secret Garden.
Phlox divaricata Blue Moon woodland phlox

In 2015 it was big enough to divide.

This year, ‘Blue Moon’ has bowled me over.

Blue Moon woodland phlox divaricata

As you enter the Secret Garden, your eye is caught by the patch of ‘Blue Moon’ in the distance. (Indicated by arrow)

I planted five divisions, three on one side of the path and two on the other side, so that you would see them from a distance and want to walk down the path to check them out. They are far more enticing than my meager photography skills can convey.
Phlox divaricata Blue Moon woodland phlox

The pieces of phlox that were planted last year are thriving in their new location.

They create exactly the effect I was hoping for, an ethereal beauty that looks like it belongs there. The color definitely catches your eye, even from other locations than the one I had intended.

And the fragrance! How could the fragrance have escaped my notice or memory before now? It’s a sweet perfume that carries far without being overwhelming. It’s the essence of spring.

When I was done swooning, my first thought was, More! I need more-more-more of this! and I went to bed that night dreaming of all the places I would plant future divisions. For you see, when I divided it last year, I left half the plant in its original location, pictured at the top of the post. And I bought a very small pot of another cultivar, ‘White Perfume’, at the Ithaca Garden Fair. That has been planted in a different garden bed to bulk up until it, too, is ready to divide.

Woodland phlox is native to the eastern two-thirds of North America but has not been documented as native in my county. I’ve never seen it growing in the wild. It likes moist soil and, as you would expect from a woodland plant, dappled shade and a soil enriched with leaf mold. It blooms in my garden in May and in Dee Nash’s Oklahoma garden in March. She mentions growing it from seed. I have never seen seeds on my plant, but perhaps I have never looked. I will be looking this year, you can bet on that.

Bonus: Woodland phlox lasts a long time in a vase.

Phlox divaricata Blue Moon woodland phlox in a vase

This arrangement is a couple of days old, and the phlox is looking perkier than some of the violas.

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Melissa @ Handy Gardeners Ltd. June 2, 2016, 3:24 am

One of my favourite flowers is also called Blue Moon, but it is a Blue moon climbing rose 🙂 his is a fast growing fragrant rose, it can be grown up walls trees trellis arches old sheds etc, it will produce large blue fragrant flowers from june to november, it will reach a height of 15 feet and will grow well in any good garden soil.

Frank May 26, 2016, 8:17 pm

I agree, that’s a perfect flower for spreading around in a woodland, it really looks at home! I can see you nurturing a ‘blue moon’ wood like the bluebell woods of Europe 🙂

Louise May 26, 2016, 4:02 pm

I love your posting. Having a moist part shade area where I plant more each year, as I learn.


Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern May 26, 2016, 8:26 am

Oh, how I love this phlox! I once had a nice patch of it but I think the violets overran it. It smelled delicious, too. I must try again in another more hospitable spot!

Pat Evans May 26, 2016, 8:07 am

Do the deer leave this phlox alone (I guess they must, at least in your woods).
I’ve been ripping out all my garden phlox because the deer just won’t leave it alone even when sprayed with Liquid Fence.
Most of the Dame’s rocket is also gone from the wild area behind my yard, but that might be because the garlic mustard has choked it out.
Anyway, love your blue phlox.

Truly Green Pest Service May 26, 2016, 11:00 pm

Leave a human scent behind…however, it would best to get a deer repellent.

Kathy Purdy May 30, 2016, 12:53 pm

We do have deer, but so far they have left it alone. I am sorry you are having so much trouble with deer–and garlic mustard, too!

Barbarapc May 26, 2016, 6:08 am

So very pretty this year isn’t it. And the spreading in the woods – lovely – it’s all in the “woodland” name. Plant the plant where they want to live and you’re gold. After those two really cold winters I was ready to give up on it, and then this year, have ‘Dirigo’s Ice’, I’ve fallen in love all over again. thanks for the idea of cutting it and bringing it inside. Guess what will be beside by bed this evening?!

Beth @ PlantPostings May 25, 2016, 8:50 pm

I love it! There are some beautiful patches of Woodland Phlox at the arboretum, and yes, I agree: The scent is amazing!

Alana May 25, 2016, 6:28 pm

Now, I am going to be sorry I missed the Ithaca plant sale this year (3rd year in a row I missed it) to get the white one. I think I have yours; I got it at a clearance in 2014 at W&W in Apalachin. This year only 3 flower spikes. I suspect it needs some richer soil. Thanks for the tip.

Betsy May 25, 2016, 2:39 pm

I’ve had just a bit of it for years, but this Spring it was gorgeous. Maybe the milder winter we had in Ohio?

gail eichelberger May 25, 2016, 1:24 pm

I love it…The fragrance and sweet flower faces make me happy. Happy WW.

Pat Webster May 25, 2016, 9:22 am

Not sure why I haven’t used this plant before… it is perfect for the woodland. I love the way it looks in yours, Kathy, and seeing it, I know exactly where I will plant mine. I hope I will be as lucky as you and be able to divide the clumps after two years.

Kathy Purdy May 25, 2016, 9:33 am

Plant it in rich garden soil in your garden to get it to multiply quickly. Then divide it and plant in the tougher wild conditions.

Oksana May 25, 2016, 8:43 am

Simple charm and fragrance – what a great combo. I will be on the look out for this plant now.

John May 25, 2016, 7:04 am

My mother-in-law is a big fan of interspersing phlox with her pachysandra. This spring we bought 10 pots to plant in my garden. They already look great. Look forward to dividing next year.