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MiniBlog: Creeping Phlox vs. Garden Phlox

Creeping Phlox vs. Garden Phlox: Understanding Their Differences

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) and Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) are two popular species that belong to the Phlox genus. While they share a name, these plants have distinct characteristics, growth habits, and ideal uses in the garden. Understanding their differences can help gardeners choose the right plant for their specific landscaping needs.


creeping phlox
creeping phlox - candy stripe

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

  • Growth Habit: Creeping Phlox, also known as Moss Phlox, is a low-growing perennial that forms a dense, spreading mat of foliage. It typically reaches a height of around 6 inches and spreads horizontally, covering the ground like a carpet.

  • Flowering: This variety produces an abundance of small, five-petaled flowers in early spring. The flowers come in various shades such as pink, white, lavender, and blue, creating a stunning spring display.

  • Ideal Use: Creeping Phlox is often used as a ground cover or as an edging plant along garden borders, rock gardens, or slopes. Its spreading growth habit makes it an excellent choice for erosion control on slopes.

  • Maintenance: It requires minimal maintenance once established, preferring well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade conditions.


Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

  • Growth Habit: Garden Phlox is a taller, upright perennial that can reach heights of 2 to 4 feet. It forms clumps of sturdy stems bearing lance-shaped leaves.

  • Flowering: The Garden Phlox blooms in mid to late summer, producing larger flower clusters in various shades of pink, purple, white, and red. Its fragrant blossoms attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden.

  • Ideal Use: This variety is ideal for mid to back borders in garden beds, providing height and vibrant color during the late summer months. It thrives in fertile, well-drained soil and prefers full sun to partial shade.

  • Maintenance: Garden Phlox may benefit from regular deadheading to encourage prolonged flowering. Adequate air circulation helps prevent powdery mildew, a common issue in humid conditions.

Choosing Between Creeping Phlox and Garden Phlox

  • Landscape Needs: Creeping Phlox is perfect for ground coverage, slopes, or rock gardens, whereas Garden Phlox adds height and vibrant color to mid to back borders.

  • Seasonal Interest: Creeping Phlox blooms in early spring, while Garden Phlox flowers in mid to late summer, allowing for sequential blooms and prolonged flowering periods in the garden.


Both Creeping Phlox and Garden Phlox are beautiful additions to a landscape, but their differences in growth habits, flowering times, and ideal uses in the garden make each variety suitable for specific landscaping needs. Selecting the right Phlox variety can contribute to a diverse and visually appealing garden throughout the growing season.


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