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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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When New Phlox Perennials Are Hard to Find

PHLOX PANICULATA AUTUMN JOYNew introductions of Phlox paniculata are usually offered in my area by online plant seller Veseys. Those hybrids offered in their spring catalogue that appealed to me finally arrived by post the other day and are now planted.  I hope they flower true to their photos and not as a variation of an already existing variety. Here are the four I chose:

Phlox Anastasia. This hybrid is expected to reach 3 feet in height. I was attracted to the color description; bright pink is a pleasant addition to the summer garden.

Phlox Autumn Joy, captioned above, belongs at the front of the border because it grows only two feet tall; it blooms in a rich, violet purple with unique violet blue streaks.

Phlox Cleopatra is considered disease resistant. Growing to three feet tall, it has unusual star-shaped flowers with an extra layer of petals. Along with a cherry-pink petal shade, its description as very free blooming is intriguing.

Phlox Rainbow Dancer is another disease resistant variety, growing to three feet in height. Its claim to fame is the vibrancy of its flowers that combine tones of pink and lavender–blue, the appearance of which varies with the amount of natural light.

Phlox paniculata is one of the most satisfying summer flowering perennials one can grow in USDA Zone 4 and Canada Zone 5. It contributes a vibrant coloration to the flower border from July to September while the ease with which it can be propagated by root division is a gardener’s delight.

For many years, the varieties of Phlox remained relatively the same with a new shade introduced every now and then but still looking similar to a pre-existing cousin.

When the garden industry recognized the consumers’ demand for fresh and unique looking perennials, the frequency with which new Phlox varieties appeared increased. However, that did not guarantee that a local nursery might be a reliable source of supply. Most retailers and wholesalers wait until a new hybrid acquires a proven track record for performance and sustainability before adding it to their inventory.

As a result, most new Phlox introductions must be purchased online. The upside is that the selection is vast while the down side is that small Phlox plants delivered by mail usually flower only in the second year. Since all Phlox plant seedlings look similar, it's a good idea to label the plants with weather proof tags. I've had no success with plant tag longevity in the past. This year I will expereiment with white plant tag spikes purchased from a Dollar Store and write on them with a china marker. I can only hope that the black wax of the marker will survive two seasons of sun and snow until the new plants bloom to identify themselves.