One of the most famous garden quotes came from shrub grower, Karl Foerster. He said that a garden without a phlox is a mistake. How true. The 'flame flower' which was once a popular feature of cottage gardens now also graces the beds of many garden aesthetes. Whether in noble white, gaudy pink, heady blue or cheeky red and white stripes, the fascinating varieties of colour of this summer star cover any bed in a fabulous sea of flowers. The phlox shrub with its compact umbels is an ideal tenant for your beds when used as ground cover, with high and low blooms. The sweet, slightly peppery fragrance wafts around you as you take a siesta in the garden. In its North American home, phlox colonises an area of over 1,000 kilometres covering different climate zones - from Illinois to Georgia in the southern states. This was how it developed it huge variability: Flame flowers thrive in the most varied conditions. Whilst perennial phlox which grows to a height of up to two metres thrives in the lowlands of the rain-laden Ohio river, the common garden varieties, which belong to the Jacob's ladder family, are satisfied with a height of between 60 centimetres and one and half metres.
A real gem in the flowerbed
Summer phlox is extremely easy to manage in the garden. It grows best in sunny locations but can also tolerate partial shade. The soil should always be moist, porous and nutritious. If the sub-soil is too dry or if there is a shortage of nutrients, the living conditions are ideal for the phlox's number one enemy: Powdery mildew. Summer phlox is a splendid border shrub. Its fullness of colour appears to be almost inexhaustible. The intensity of the colours depends on the weather and can vary from year to year. Many varieties take on a completely different hue in the evening twilight - especially blue varieties. If you want to make the flowering period longer, shorten the tips of the main shoots by 5-10 centimetres before the buds start to form.