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Phlox as a ground cover: These types are best
If you plant phlox as a ground cover, you can soon look forward to a magnificent sea of flowers in the garden. The low flame flowers cheerfully cover entire surfaces, crawl over stones, line paths and sometimes even hang elegantly from walls. However, the phlox family is large and not every species can be used as a ground cover.
- Cushion phlox (Phlox douglasii)
- Carpet phlox (Phlox subulata)
- Wandering Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)
- Alaska Phlox (Phlox borealis)
Why should you plant a phlox as a ground cover?
The ground-covering species under the phloxes grow turf-like, creeping or, thanks to root runners, to form dense mats. Even weeds hardly have a chance to sprout. The easy-care and hardy perennials green sunny to partially shaded places in the garden and, with their opulent pile, provide carpets of flowers in the most wonderful colors between April and June: everything from white to delicate lavender blue and purple to pink, pink and strong purple is included. Insects are also happy about the blooming ground cover, which, depending on the type and variety, even exudes a more or less strong scent. Thanks to the usually evergreen leaves, the flame flower does not make its location look bare even in winter. Another advantage: If you want to enlarge your pretty carpet in the garden inexpensively, you can easily multiply the ground-covering flame flowers yourself by dividing or cuttings.
Which ground-covering phlox species are there?
The woody shoots of the cushion phlox (Phlox douglasii) have thin, needle-like leaves and grow turf-like, compact about 5 to 20 centimeters high. Depending on the variety, the perennials produce countless, weakly scented flowers in light pink, lavender or white. Stronger colors such as carmine red or purple can also be seen. They bloom in April / May. The upholstery phlox tolerates dry locations and likes to stand in the sun. The soil should be gravelly to stony and fresh to dry. This makes the plants ideal for the rock garden. They also cover gravel beds with their cushions and are suitable for planting on slopes.
The carpet phlox (Phlox subulata) is between 5 and 15 centimeters high and is more vigorous than Phlox douglasii. The winter-green, narrow leaves almost disappear between May and June - sometimes even from April - under the colorful and strongly scented flowers. The fluffy mats, on the other hand, let stones disappear beneath them, adorn wall crowns with their hanging shoots and line beds and paths. Phlox subulata prefers a full sun, fresh and dry location, in partial shade it develops fewer flowers. The soil should be moderately rich in nutrients, mineral and sandy to stony. Protect the perennials slightly from sunlight in winter.
The wandering phlox (Phlox stolonifera) is the ideal ground cover for shady places, for example under trees. But it is also suitable for lighter shade locations in the rock garden. When it is comfortable, it forms large mats up to 25 centimeters high thanks to its runners. However, he is not particularly assertive. The plants like to thrive on loose and humus-rich, slightly moist clay soil and prefer a slightly acidic substrate. Its honeysuckle-like scented flowers shine in white, blue or various shades of purple between April and June.
With the Alaska phlox (Phlox borealis) you can also bring a versatile ground cover into the garden. This species grows like a lawn and, thanks to its rooting shoots, grows into lush cushions about ten centimeters high. The flame flower thrives on normal as well as mineral-rich, fresh to dry soils. In sunny rock gardens, on wall crowns, but also for grave planting, it is particularly suitable. Before the perennials shed their narrow leaves during the cold season, they turn bronze to copper in color. From May to June they are adorned with brightly colored flowers. The Daniel’s Cushion ’variety is said to produce platinum blue flowers, but is often found in stores as a pink variety.
How should you plant and care for phlox as a ground cover?
Plant ground-covering phloxes in the garden according to their location requirements. The soil should definitely be well drained. The flat-growing species do not tolerate waterlogging. Container goods can be planted all year round between spring and autumn. Count on at least ten copies per square meter so that a thick carpet can form. Before planting, remove all weeds and loosen the soil well. Fertilized with a little horn shavings, the phloxes have a good start. Freshly planted, you should also water the ground cover regularly. Then you only have to water the drought-tolerant species from time to time. Older plants of the wandering phlox in particular are also happy about a thin layer of well-deposited compost in autumn. If you cut your ground-covering phlox after flowering, you will also keep it vital and blooming.
Do you want to make an area in your garden as easy to care for as possible? Our tip: plant it with ground cover! It's that easy.
Credit: MSG / Camera + Editing: Marc Wilhelm / Sound: Annika Gnädig
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