Taking Creeping Phlox Cuttings: How To Grow Creeping Phlox From Cuttings
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Creeping phlox isn’t much to write home about until it blooms. That is when the plant really shines. These spring bloomers come in pink, white, lavender, and even red. It has a ground hugging habit and stems become woody as this perennial ages. Propagation of this plant is through division, stem cuttings, or rooted stems. Creeping phlox cuttings root after a few months, readily providing new plants almost effortlessly. Learn how to take cuttings from creeping phlox and when to do it for maximum success.
When to Take Cuttings from Creeping Phlox
If you are a lover of this plant, it’s easy to propagate creeping phlox from cuttings. This is a nearly foolproof way to make more plants and add different colors to your collection for free. Creeping phlox sends out runners, rooting stems that are also a quick way to propagate the plant.
Creeping phlox cuttings should be taken in either summer or fall, but seem to root best if planted in autumn. Some gardeners swear by taking them early in the season when they are actively growing, but the plants persist well into the cold season and rooted nodes will still sufficiently establish by the time full winter arrives.
Cuttings of creeping phlox may be rooted stems which will more quickly establish or terminal end cuttings. The latter will need more time to send out roots but will do so provided they are cut near a growth node.
How to Grow Creeping Phlox from Cuttings
Either remove a 6 inch (15 cm.) section of a rooted stem or take the same amount from a lateral shoot near the tip. Make your cut ½ inch (1 cm.) below a leaf. Use sharp, clean cutting tools to prevent disease from spreading and injury to the plant.
Each cutting must have at least one leaf and be free of flowers. Cuttings of creeping phlox do not require a pre-treatment of rooting hormone before planting, but it may speed up the process. If you choose to do so, dip the cut end into the hormone and shake the excess off. You are now ready to plant.
In order to successfully propagate creeping phlox from cuttings, you need to observe the appropriate planting and care instructions. Choose a fast draining growing medium such as a combination of peat, coarse sand, and perlite.
Pull the leaves off the bottom 1/3 of the cutting. Plant the cut end 4 inches (10 cm.) into the soil after you treat with the hormone, if you wish. Keep the planting medium moderately moist and place the container in bright but indirect light.
You may also choose to place a plastic bag over the container to conserve moisture. Remove it once a day to prevent fungal build up in soil. In four to six weeks the plant should be rooted and ready for transplant.
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Growing Stages of Creeping Phlox
Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) is a useful groundcover plant for gardens with informal layouts, naturalized beds or open woodland settings. Once established, it will grow for many years and produces cheerful blossoms ranging from reddish-purple to violet, pink and white. New plants start in a variety of ways, then grow and flower at maturity.
Phlox Care: How to Propagate
The two most popular types of phlox are a tall, graceful variety, Phlox paniculata, and a low spreading type, Phlox stolonifera. You can propagate either of these with little difficulty in growing zones across North America. Follow these suggestions to successfuly propagate your phlox flowers.
Phlox Paniculata (Fall Phlox)
These phlox grow up to 4 feet in height and can extend across 3 feet of garden area. Their blooms are usually pinkish-purple and will flower from late June until September. To maintain abundant mature growth and profuse blooming, divide these phlox at the rootball at 4-year intervals. Propagate by dividing flowers in the early fall while still flowering. Take care when digging up clumps of phlox paniculata to prevent dislodging other plants in the area. Plant in a spot that gets full sunshine for 6 or more hours daily. A slightly sandy soil with consistent drainage is best for fall phlox. Water when the soil dries slightly. Over-watering is harmful to Fall phlox, as it can encourage mold growth at the roots. This phlox will flower just once but hold its delicately scented blooms for several weeks between July and the end of August.
Phlox Stolonifera (Creeping Phlox)
Creeping Phlox grow up to only 6 inches above the ground surface, and spread laterally to nearly 2 feet across. Their flowers range in color from pale lavender to a strong violet in spring to early summer. An evergreen plant which grows by sending out runners, you can propagate it successfully from stem cuttings. Take cuttings 6 inches long in the early spring from a lateral shoot near the tips. Gently pull off leaves from the bottom third of the cutting. This portion will go into the ground. Creeping Phlox do well in partial shade, but ensure the soil has adequate drainage. Add sand or fine gravel if the clay content is high. Dip the stem tip in a rooting fertilizer, and plant it in the ground about 4 inches below the surface. Water sparingly so the fine root filaments will stretch out deeper to get water.
Phlox drummondii (Annual Phlox) blooms from midsummer into fall when deadheaded regularly. Some varieties grow to 18 inches in height while others are creepers. Take cuttings to propagate this phlox indoors in the early fall, just as blooming begins to slow. Propagate a few tips as the success rate for these is just average. Strip off flower buds and leaves from the stem, and treat the rooting end with a root-promoting fertilizer. Use a potting soil that has both peat and vermiculite to help with drainage and provide organic nutrients. Plant in 8-inch deep pots, halfway down in the pot. Press soil in firmly to support the stem cutting. Water with a sprayer and keep the roots from getting too wet to forestall mold growth. Keep in a sunny south or west window, until the plant has grown full-sized leaves. Plant outdoors in sandy soil with good drainage in the spring.
Phlox attract butterflies with their bright foliage and nectar, so make room for some in your garden.
Growing, Selling and Propagating Creeping Phlox.
Creeping Phlox used in a corner planting.
Emerald Pink Creeping Phlox.
Creeping Phlox is easy to grow, easy to propagate and sells like crazy! We potted the phlox in this pot last summer and they over wintered perfectly and bloomed like crazy this spring.
Creeping Phlox can be propagated in the early spring via division, simply dig up a clump and separate the roots into small pieces and re-plant the roots. Trim the tops a bit in the process so the roots do not have to support a great deal of top growth.
Creeping Phlox can also be rooted in mid to late summer using cuttings that have started to harden off a bit. Detailed information about Summer Propagation Can Be Found Here.
Crimson Beauty Creeping Phlox.
Creeping Phlox is very hardy and does well in growing zones 3 through 9 which is much wider range than many other plants.
Personally I don’t propagate Phlox because I can buy plugs by the tray for just 92 cents each and it makes it much easier to just buy them. We propagate a Ton of Flowering Shrubs and Evergreens from Cuttings that it’s nice to just call the wholesale grower and order many of the perennials that we sell. In the size container that you see here we sell those at $5.97 each and they sell like crazy.
Emerald Blue Creeping Phlox.
People ask me where they can buy perennials like I do for as little as 92 cents each and I can only share Wholesale Sources Inside of Our Members Area. And our members go crazy buying thousands and thousands of perennials from these wholesale growers to re-sell at a nice profit.
Creeping Phlox in full bloom.
Having a plant like Creeping Phlox in your nursery is a great way to attract customer who are likely to buy a lot more while they are there. It’s also a great item to sell wholesale. Landscapers and garden centers buy Creeping Phlox in one gallon containers by the thousands!
Questions, comments, mean things to say? Post them below and I will respond.
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Mike (and company) thanks for sharing your wisdom. I enjoy reading your emails and the tips and pure appreciation of plants you share. You’re a good teacher! Thanks for educating us!
You are welcome and thank you for your kind words.
I divided creeping Phlox and Dianathus and have 100 in pots now in my Garden to sell next spring. Will they survive the winter if I dig holes and place the pots in the ground?
Creeping Phlox- yes they will they are tough but beautiful, they grow in the mountains of WNC and they have very cold winters in the mountains.
Dianathus – that’s a question for Mike’s staff.
Thanks Mike,I’ve enjoyed your site for a long time. My daughter wants me to move from Texas to northern KY. If or when I do I would love to visit Perry,Ohio and speak with you personally and possibly become a member,like you I love plants and especially your advice,very helpful. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge. Ed from Denton,Tx. PS. Maybe there are members in my area?
We have a number of members in Texas but northern Kentucky is almost the perfect climate for growing plants. I highly encourage you to become a members as soon as possible, before you move, it will help you a great deal, even help you make the decision about moving.
Not sure about northern my but I have land in s w ky and If I had gone 1/2 hr so
More in Tenn it has no snow and warm weather all yr! Land is for sale!
What varieties are not patented and will grow in Houston Texas?
That’s something you really need to research.
My perennials bloomed beautiful so after the flowers died I dead headed them. Do perennials keep blooming all season or do they just bloom once and then come back next year. My card that came with the plant doesn’t say anything about this.
Some perennials will bloom more than once a year if you cut them back and let them flush out again. But I don’t think Phlox is going to do that.
I would like to plant some creeping Phlox in my home in N. Florida. How can I get seeds or plants? I have contacted the closest nursery to me, and they don”t have them.
I will be glad to dig u some up and ship them. I am sure i can get them to you safe and alive! I transplanted some this time last year and they trippled in size…let me know if you are interested.
Transactions such as this take place in our members area http://backyardgrowers.com/join
Elizabeth a Williams says
Do you have more than one color? What color do you have?
This spring we had 3 colors, might still have two colors left.
How do you move some of the phlox. I have a lovely blooming patch on side of house but now I would like to take half of it and plant in backyard. I am waiting until it stops blooming but then how do I cut some of the plant so it won’t die before I can replant it. How to do this is my question.
The quick answer is to dig and divide, but I’d consider this the worst possible time to try that. Me? I do it in the fall. Late fall.
Are phlox deer resistant plants?
We have multiple deer in our yard every week and they don’t touch our phlox.
How does one control and contain creeping phlox in a small area?
Will it keep on growing and over grow the area?
I control all ground covers with my spade. I simple cut them back 6″ from where I want them to be, new growth covers the cut edge and they look great.
How does not control the spread, or contain the spread in a small area?
I love creeping phlox too. Unfortunately, mine only blooms in early spring for about a month. I wish it would bloom longer. The only way I’ve ever seen it for sale at the stores in my town near Oklahoma City in zone 7 is in one gallon pots for $6 or $7 each. I’ve bought some online, really cheap, but all I get are rooted pieces in a plastic bag with no dirt. Less than half of these survived and grew, but those that did have really spread!
And that’s why we sell them in pots, they do so much better.
I have tried creeping phlox and it dies off and never grows back. What can I do to have a patch like you have in the picture? It is so beautiful. Thank you.
Try a better variety, one more suited to your zone? And water it well until established, it’s not really that difficult to maintain.
Mike, What is your take on flowers and plants being watered over head? I have read both pro and con on this subject. So far what I have gleaned is that it depends on the heat, sun direction and so forth. Can I water overhead in early morning hours in the cool , so as to avoid any leaf burn? My Wine and Roses Weigela I believe is sun burnt.
The truth is nurseries all water from overhead, in the heat of the day. People make way too much of this myth. I am surrounded by wholesale growers who produce in excess of 85 million dollars worth of plants each year. They all water from overhead and have no choice but to run water day and night.
I love your letters. I don’t sell plants i just love having flowers around me. Believe it out not several years ago they tried to evict me from my apartment because i had so many plants outside. Everone even the ups guy use sit down and take in the beauty for a few minutes saying he loved to deliver to me. I’m in to the hibiscus plants. I love the big flowers. Thank you for your letters it opens up other flowers i would like to plant.
Thanks Karen, I appreciate that.
i have a gem magnolia trees that refuses to grow. i leave in Las Vegas zone 8 . i water and Furtilize. Do you have any answers.
I really can’t say but I’m a firm believer in not over caring for and tinkering with plants. In your area you have to water, but a lot of feeding shouldn’t be necessary. All of my plants get the exact same treatment and plants in the landscape get nothing but water as needed.
Mike will phlox grow and creep in heavy clay soil? My entire yard is dense and so much of what I plant doesn’t make it…never mind spread.thanks for a great web page.
I would think that it would. There are benefits to clay soil. I’d rototill an area, maybe add some compost to help keep the clay loose and plant.
I have heavy clay soil (poor draining red clay in North Carolina) and I have no problem whatsoever growing Creeping Phlox. Our temperatures are crazy here and range from freezing in winter and up to 10 to 14″ of snow one week to almost 70 degrees within a week. We get very hot in the summer here as well. My creeping phlox grows with very little to no care.
I did have no luck growing the tall garden phlox varieties – we had heavy rainfall for an extended time and poor drianing soil and they basically died of what we call “root rot” around here.
My creeping phlox are trying to take over the rest of my flower bed. There are beautiful, though. Do I have to wait until they are done flowering to divide and transplant? I would like to transplant to around the base of our maple trees. Would that work?
The ideal time to transplant them would be when completely dormant, so I would at least let the new growth harden off.
Beautiful plants for a ground cover, I will try them here in Droughtland USA (the mountains in Central California). Anyway, I have a question for you, I noticed in a picture on your site, a small garden tractor under a tent. What brand of garden tractor would you consider to be the best for rough terrain cutting?
Thanks in advance.
I’m a huge Kubota fan, love my Kubota!
I have learned so much from you over the years and I thank you for this. Although I did buy some creeping phlox off the “distressed plants” rack today (and I rarely lose these plants), my question goes back to that extremely harsh winter we had about three years ago. My Bloodgood maple suffered severe damage, which is especially pronounced on the windward side. This side is completely dead and I pruned it off two years ago, There has been no new growth in this area, so I literally have half a tree. Do you have any advice? M.y current plan is to let the tree grow, pruning off the lower branches opposite the bare side until the tree kind of grows into itself.
I think you are on the right track. It will recover slowly, but it will recover.
Thank you that is exactly what I needed to know. Love your site.
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Every garden needs a splash of color in spring, and the easiest way to make your landscape stand out is by planting creeping phlox. Taking care of this perennial ground cover is not complicated, so it is clear why it gained so much popularity among gardening enthusiasts.
Creeping phlox will grow in any soil, but if you want to keep it healthy and as beautiful as possible, make sure the ground is moist and well-draining. Don’t forget to provide the plant with plenty of sunshine. This flower spreads fast and has small star-shaped flowers. They can be red, white, blue, purple, or pink and cover an area of 24 inches in width.
It is a fabulous little plant that blooms in mid or late spring. Once the summer rolls in, you will get to enjoy its green foliage that looks equally good. Creeping phlox is a perfect plant for landscaping or rock gardens. Plus, it is somewhat resistant to drought and pet-friendly!
Ana is an experienced writer and an urban gardener, making use of limited space on her balcony to grow vegetables every season. She got into gardening thanks to her grandmother, who introduced her to the wonderful world of succulents. Two of them still collect succulents as well as cacti together, and Ana is always on the lookout for rare (and colorful) varieties. She is currently occupied with growing avocado trees indoors.