Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How should I grow Creeping Phlox in a container?

If I plant Phlox in a container, should I take them in for the winter,and if so, do I bring them back out in early spring and should I keep watering them as they are inside? Do I cut them back when I take them inside? And if I should just go ahead and leave them outside, do I cut them back while leaving them outside? Do they grow back after cutting them down? OR, should I just leave them as is and do their own thing like when you grow them in the ground?

How should I grow Creeping Phlox in a container?
Most varieties of phlox are hardy perennial to zone 4. You should plant them directly in the ground to ensure the kind of strong roots they need to come back year after year, rather than confining them in pots. You can cut them back in the fall if you wish, but its not necessary. I don't usually cut mine back, and they "resurrect" just fine in the spring. And I live in Zone 5 - which is likely your Zone as well in southern Iowa.
Reply:Pretty thorough question there :)

The first thing is, where do you live? What hardiness zone? Trying to grow perennials in pots is not the best idea for most people.... we just don't do it and expect them to come back. However, growers do maybe we can too.

So let's break down the question:

1) Take them in for the winter? ...I'm thinking it would be best to find a way to keep them around 20-30oF I believe growers either pile soil or mulch around the pots and expect to lose some, but most should live. If you sunk the pot into the soil (or transplanted to some kind of standard black plastic pot and did this) and then mulched after the ground has frozen (assuming you are in a very cold area) that should least it is worth a shot. I know here in MN some people actually dig up half of the rootball of a rose bush, tip the plant on its side (hinged by the rootball half still in the soil) and then cover the whole thing with soil to protect the tender bud union area).

2) SO, the goal is to let the plant go dormant outside...I think that is best

3) Do I cut them back? I would cut them back before "winterizing" them at the end of the season...also, though, you can cut back Phlox subulata after blooming and it will bloom again.

4) If you just leave them alone and see if they make it like perennials planted in the ground they will likely die...unless they are kept somewhere that the temperature just happens to work out.
Reply:The seven varieties of phlox listed below are hardy through winter in most frigid climate zones (2, 3, and 4) and should come back in the spring if planted in the ground. If you're planting in containers, you're limiting their insulation and risking damage to the container itself if you leave it outside through freezing temperatures. What zone are you in? How many freezing days do you have each winter?

Phlox andicola - plains phlox

Phlox diffusa - spreading phlox

Phlox divaricata ssp. laphamii - sweet william

Phlox glaberrima ssp. interior - marsh phlox

Phlox longifolia - long-leaved phlox

Phlox pilosa - downy phlox

Phlox speciosa ssp. occidentalis - showy phlox
Reply:start with a large enough planter then put the planter near a wall and put a lattice or chicken wire behing it for the phlox to grow up and keep moist not really wet and shady while the plant is small then put it into partial shade and partial sun when it grows larger.

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