The Plant Native

Creeping Phlox

Highlights

Looking for a stunning ground cover or a native plant for a walkway edge? You’ve found it. Creeping Phlox is a quickly spreading native plant that also stays evergreen in most climates. In the spring, it puts on a show when it covers itself in tiny five-petaled flowers. Pick a color (or a few!) and it will return beauty and resilience for years. Explore tips and types below.

Sun – part sun
6-12″ tall
Spring flowers
Phlox subulata
'Emerald Blue' Phlox tumbling over a wall; photo by Fritzmb

You’ve probably seen this native plant before, tumbling over a garden edge, or adorning someone’s front door while in full bloom. The bonus: Creeping Phlox’s leaves are evergreen. In this article, we’ll explore different types and share planting tips for this native gem.

How to say ‘Phlox’

To pronounce this plant’s common name, turn the ‘ph’ into an f-sound. If it was spelled phonetically, it would be flox, and when said aloud it rhymes with box.

I would like a box filled with phlox to look at while I eat lox—all the italicized words rhyme. (Ok, bad puns will stop there!)

A field is absolutely covered in "Moss Pink' Creeping Phlox at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the spring
Creeping Phlox (also sometimes called Moss Phlox) is native to a wide range of the US

Where is Creeping Phlox native?

Creeping Phlox (also sometimes called by another common name ‘Moss Phlox’) is native to half of the eastern US and parts of Canada. Anyone from Louisiana to Maine can plant this native flower.

Creeping Phlox Cultivars

A cultivar is a plant that has been changed or curated by humans (it stands for CULTivated VARiety—learn more about cultivars.) Cultivars offer beauty, but they cannot beat the benefits of planting a true native species. 

That said, sometimes all we can find are cultivars at our local nurseries. Here are some cultivar Creeping Phlox varieties you may find:

Phlox 'Emerald Blue'

Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’

The bright blue-purple variety of Phlox sometimes goes by the common name “Creeping Phlox.”

Phlox 'Candy Stripe'

Phlox subulata ‘Candy Stripe’

The ‘Candy Stripe’ variety of phlox has a lovely pink and white striped flower. 

Creeping Phlox is a great native plant to grow in borders, tumbling along fences, or alongside walkways. It looks great in high-profile areas because it flowers in the spring and stays evergreen throughout the year. It’s so easy to plant—happy with just rain after being established!—and because it’s a perennial, plant once and it will come back year after year. 

SOURCES

UPDATED —
02/19/2024
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