Saturday, June 08, 2002

'David' stands out among the Phlox

This Perennial Plant of the Year provides nice contrast all summer

        Every garden needs a few stands of Phlox paniculata, a mainstay in the perennial border in late July and August.

[photo] Phlox paniculata “David” grows 36 to 40 inches tall.
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        It comes in pink, blue, purple, red, lavender, yellow and orange, and in combinations of these colors with the petal color contrasting with darker “eyes.”

        But if I could choose just one variety for my garden, I would select the pure white Phlox paniculata “David.”

        Every year the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) selects a Perennial Plant of the Year. This year, the 13th for the program, Phlox “David” is the winner.

        The PPA's executive director, Dr. Steven Still of Ohio State University, praises P. “David” for its bright white clusters of delightfully fragrant flowers.

        “It is known to flower from mid-July to September,” he says. “Also, "David' has the greatest powdery mildew resistance of any white phlox on the market today.”

        I can attest to its mildew resistance, having grown it for three years without any disease problems.

    • Plant Phlox “David” — and other varieties — in full sun to partial shade in rich, moist, well-drained soil.
    • Provide good air-circulation to help reduce mildew.
    • Pinch out flowers when they show signs of tiring. This will force side shoots to produce secondary blooms that will continue into fall.
    • Mulch around plants to keep roots cool.
    • Divide plants every few years, replanting young shoots from outside the clump.
    • Nurseries and garden centers.
    • Mail order: Wayside Gardens, Hodges, S.C. Free catalog. (800) 845-1124.
        “David” grows 36 to 40 inches tall and its strong stems resist wind and bad weather. It has thin, glossy leaves and white flower panicles 6 to 9 inches long and 6 to 8 inches wide with 1-inch-diameter florets.

        In the late-summer border, when colors are their brightest in the hot weather, the white of “David” offers cool, crisp relief.

        Phlox “David” looks particularly good planted with yellow lilies, Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia),pink asters, liatris, blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica),Stokes' aster, helenium, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and ornamental grasses.

        You can cut Phlox “David” for arrangements. Pick when the florets are just beginning to open.
       Contact Tim Morehouse by Web site:; mail: c/o Cincinnati Enquirer. (If writing, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.)


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