Phlox sp.

Zone: 3 to 8

Soil: sand to clay

Light: Part sun to light shade

Bloom colour: White, pink blue

Bloom period: July to September

Height: a lot of variation

Moisture: Dry to medium

Attracts: Hummingbirds, butterflies and moths

Notes: Phlox paniculata is the most common species found in nurseries due to their magnificent blooms along with Phlox subulata. The former, while common in gardens in Ontario is only native of the great lakes region and the eastern United States. Phlox divaricata, the woodland phlox, is native to Ontario and a large part of central and Eastern United States. The long corolla in Phlox paniculata excludes most insects because their tongues are too short and so this species has a limited wildlife value. The flower shape is typical of plants pollinated by hummingbirds and insects with long tongues. A large butterfly or a sphinx moth are infrequent visitors of these plants. Carpenter bees are common on Phlox because the can rob the flowers of its nectar by cutting a small slit in the base of the corolla close to the nectary.

The plant can tolerate full sun, but it grows and looks better where there is a decent amount of shade. It can tolerate clay, but probably does better in a sandy soil. If the conditions are not right, then these plants are susceptible to powdery mildew. Find cultivars such as 'David' which is mildew resistant. It grows up to 5ft high whereas some of the smaller cultivars are less than 1 foot tall. To attract hummingbirds, you will have more success with a pink or purple cultivar. Choose a cultivar that is very close to the species. The fancier ones may not be such a good nectar source. Species native to Ontario include Phlox divaricata, Phlox maculata, Phlox pilosa and Phlox subulata.

Many cultivars in terms of their ability to attract pollinators are considered inferior to the straight species, but one exception is a selection of Phlox paniculata called Jeana found in Tennessee by Jeana Prewitt. Compared to other Phlox paniculata cultivars, they have significant smaller flowers that allow more insects to reach the nectaries. The panicles of flowers are still quite large and showy and you get more insect interactions as well.

Woodland phlox has quite different cultivation requirements. This native plant is less than 2 feet tall and needs a rich moist soil in part shade. It flowers in late spring and is a great plant for a woodland garden or in containers.

Phlox paniculata
Phlox 'David'
Phlox paniculata 'David'
Phlox maculatum
Phlox paniculata
Phlox paniculata 'Jeana"
Phlox paniculata 'Jeana'
Phlox divaricata Phlox paniculata 'Jeana' with Peck's skipper
Woodland Phlox
The corolla in the flowers of Phlox paniculata 'Jeana" is shorter allowing a Peck's skipper to access the nectary.
Phlox with carpenter bee Phlox with clearwing
Phlox paniculata with a carpenter bee
Phlox with a clearwing moth.