Just When the Garden Needs a Punch of Color, Summer Phlox Delivers

Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Last week we finished  our fourth heat wave here in Philly and the Summer Phlox bloomed and bloomed thorough it all.  It’s a gorgeous hot pink through high heat and humidity.  Summer Phlox (Phlox Paniculata) gives a gorgeous punch of color right when my garden can look dry and stressed-out from the high heat and humidity.

Summer Phlox is a plant indigenous to Philadelphia and eastern North America. It is often found in fertile bottomlands and meadows, from New York south to Georgia. It grows in compact neat clumps and doesn’t run and spread.

Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

This is a popular cultivated plant. Summer Phlox is naturally a deep pink, but there are white, blue, salmon-orange, purple, red, and variegated cultivars, too. Some cultivars can get mildew. If mildew is a problem for you, you may want to seek out mildew-resistant varieties.

Summer Phlox flowers from July through September. And it is a tall plant, often topping 3 to 5 feet tall. If I want the plant to be shorter, I trim it back to half  its height in early to mid-June. This is a technique that can be used on perennials in general. Cutting the plant back to half its height in early to mid-June and staggering the height of stems will vary height during blooming. Six inches or more can be cut off when the plant has tight buds. This will stagger bloom times if you don’t cut away all the buds at once.

Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata) – a House Sparrow eats at a tray feeder in my garden.

Insects visit the plant for its nectar. I have found tiny bees and flies roaming around the flower petals.

Summer Phlox is a tough plant, blooming in dry, sun-drenched spots. It is such a joy in my garden during the dog days of summer.

Phlox Paniculata
Zones: 3 to 9
Natural range: southern New York to northern Georgia, west to Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas
Soil: moist, very fertile, suffers in drought
Sun: full sun to partial sun
Blooms: July to September
Height: 36 to 60 inches tall,cut back in early to mid-June to reduce plant height when it blooms
Growing: apparently grows easily from seed and will probably reproduce the species instead of the various colors of cultivated varieties. Deadheading prolongs bloom and prevents reseeding

Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata) – a Mourning Dove searches for dropped seeds beneath a feeder in my garden.


  1. I am new to phlox. I didn’t know until recently it was a native. I am THRILLED with how 3 phlox I bought this summer have performed through the drought here in IN. I am going to buy a lot more next spring and enjoy them the whole season!

    • Hi, Heidi

      I agree. Phlox did so well here in Philly this summer even with long stretches of little rain, that I wanted to let others know.

      Natives plants truly are adapted to the local climate.

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