A Phlox with Gorgeous Color
I love this phlox, which is saying alot because phlox plants do not usually do well for me. I like everything about it: the color, the health, the height, everything. A good reason to plant these is because they are a tried and true addition to the garden. They are considered one of the primary plants of a perennial garden.
Although Phlox paniculata (this type of phlox) like good care and soil, the ‘Starfire’ variety has done well with a fair amount of neglect. I think I fell in love with them when I happened to team the Starfire phlox planting with the “Fragrant Cloud” rose, the two flowers had matching colors at the same bloomtime, and complementary shapes. The pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa, at their feet was lovely. Sadly, the phlox is the only remainder after some grueling seasons of drought and hard winters. It is a picture due a reprise, and I recommend you try it in your garden.
Most of these flowers come in white, purples, and pinks, so the bright coral of the ‘Starfire’ variety is somewhat unusual for phlox. It is a bright color without being garish. Strong mid-height clouds of blooms in midsummer, they make good cut flowers, too. The foliage has been healthy resisting the mildew that the other phloxes have been prone to.
There are newer varieties of red phlox, but this one has been reliable and attractive for many years for me. If you are interested in investigating other named varieties that are similar to the Starfire Phlox paniculata, take a look at Phlox paniculata ‘Red Riding Hood’, darker Phlox paniculata ‘Red Magic’, or lighter Phlox paniculata ‘Junior Dance’.
The Phlox paniculata plant does appreciate care. Good soil, fertilizer, divided regularly, removal of spent flower heads, with regular moisture throughout the season give the best results. I like to have soaker hoses in place to water the gardens during the drier part of the summer. Lay them in place and simply hook up the regular hose to the end when needed.
Phlox are included in those plants that are deemed ‘heavy feeders’. (Most of the old garden stalwarts are in this category: iris, roses, peonies, etc.). So, a well prepared perennial bed works best, with additional applications of fertilizers. I do have some tucked beside viburnum shrubs that are doing fine, but the better fed, the better the flowers. Sun or light shade,and hardy in Zone 3 to 8.
This is a hummingbird and butterfly garden plant.
Phlox is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. It is drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping and is great in borders, rock gardens, formal beds and meadows. Space plants 10-16 inches apart in the middle or back of the flower bed, allowing for plenty of air circulation. Mulch after the ground freezes.
Hazel West-Sherring has painted some wonderful botanical renderings of Phlox paniculata varieties as well as a number of other favorite plants, such as muscari, primrose, and tulips. Delicate, colorful, and full of the life and personality of the plant.