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How to Grow Downy Phlox in My Garden

Bright pink downy phlox flowers in a field Play Video

Downy phlox is a native plant to North Carolina and the eastern United States. It’s also one of Mark Weathington‘s favorite spring perennials, having won him over with its show-stealing spread of flowers and perfume-like fragrance.

As director of the nationally acclaimed JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University and an Extension specialist in horticultural science, Mark knows a thing or two about plants and gardens.

He explains that downy phlox grows in open woodlands, meadows and Piedmont prairies. The open space allows it to spread and create a cover of pale pink flowers that fade to almost pure white, providing a mosaic of pastel colors in the garden.

Downy phlox will just flower in the spring, but it puts on such a beautiful display when it does that it becomes the star of the garden for about three weeks.

Once it finishes flowering, one recommended option is to cut off all of the tops and then just have nice, grassy green foliage for the rest of the season. Adding to its appeal, downy phlox is drought tolerant once established, requires little fertilizer or attention, and is a favorite flower for many butterflies without attracting unwanted pests.

Experience more of Mark Weathington’s gardening expertise in his “Ask the Gardener” column for The News & Observer.

What Are Wildflowers?

The term wildflower is often used to describe native plants, but may also refer to naturalized plants that are not indigenous to the region. Wildflower seed mixes often include species from other parts of the country or world, so be sure to identify the species then determine if it’s native to your region.

Another Perennial Favorite

Developed especially for Extension Master GardenerSM volunteers and home gardening enthusiasts, the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook is an award-winning resource that features research-based gardening and landscaping information from a team of experts at NC State.

This go-to guide for gardeners in North Carolina and the Southeast can be purchased from UNC Press and is available on the NC State Extension website.

N.C. Extension Gardener Handbook cover image