Phlox, a colorful border plant, is a perfect addition to any garden that requires an easy-to-grow plant that will keep other invasive plants under control. The bush has many different hybrids and cultivars that will match every sort of garden, and add color to the rockiest Alpine flowerbed. Phlox is native to North America and Asia, and can be found anywhere from mountainous locations to woodlands and meadows.

Part of the polemoniaceae family, phlox shares characteristics with over 400 shrubs, trees and flowers that grow in mostly desert or mountainous regions. Phlox has been used by Native cultures for years in hygienic, medicinal and utilitarian purposes. It's especially good for pest control, in particular keeping away scorpions, as demonstrated by the Native tribes around Texas, where a famous cultivar, phlox drummondii, grows.

Phlox grows to a height of 18 inches and spreads to 10 inches or slightly wider. It has soft, feathery light-green foliage and large, smooth-petalled flowers. The flowers can be purple, pink, blue, red, white or yellow. Phlox should be planted out in the springtime, and spaced up to 8 inches apart. They will branch out quickly, quickly covering a flowerbed.

Growing Phlox

Grow the flowers in full sun, in fertile, moist yet well-drained soil. Don't transplant phlox if you can help it – it doesn't do well when moved around. Instead, plant the seeds or cuttings directly into the soil and they should germinate within 10-15 days. Make sure to deadhead the flowers to encourage profuse blooming. For phlox drummondii, a gardening tip would be that sandy soil will encourage better growth.

Recommended Varieties

There are many varieties of phlox available. One of the most prolific cultivars is "Drummond", which can include several different varieties. "Coral Reef" has lovely pastel-colored flowers and "Twinkle" has flowers that resemble tiny stars. You can often see a picotee effect in the flowers, as the petal edges and centers may contrast slightly with the petal proper. A landscaping professional would be able to help you determine which variety of phlox is best for your garden.

Landscape Design Tips

Phlox makes a perfect addition to a rock garden, rock wall, border, container garden or even just in a flowerbed. Plant it with marigold, heliotrope or calendula to make an amazing contrasting garden. Salvia will also grow companionably beside phlox, and the phlox's branches will prevent salvia from being too invasive.

Gardening Zones

Phlox is hardy in zones 3 to 11.

Pests and Problems

Sometimes, phlox can experience fungal problems, but good soil drainage will prevent this. Don't let water stand on the leaves and make sure to water in the morning.