How to Grow and Care for Creeping Phlox

how to grow creeping phlox

The creeping phlox is a wonderful dwarf plant that creates a covering of wonderful green with pops of colour when flowering. The mere mention of this garden favourite might transport you to an English garden scene, with carpets of vibrant colours breaking the monotony of the green. For those who are yet to be acquainted, let me indulge you in the magic of this lovely ground cover.

Introduction to Creeping Phlox

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata), often adorning rock gardens and cascading over walls, offers a splash of colour when the world is still shaking off winter’s chill. It’s a perennial plant, and its star-shaped flowers can transform any patch into a beautiful flower bed. 

How to Grow Creeping Phlox

Choosing the Perfect Spot

Phlox grows in early summer and enjoys a healthy dose of sunshine. Ensure your chosen spot gets plenty of sunshine, ideally at least six hours a day — although they can thrive in full sun or partial shade. Though they’re forgiving, a little pampering in well-draining soil will make them thrive. 

Planting Your Creeping Phlox

Late spring or early autumn are ideal. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball, gently tease the roots, and settle them in. Remember, they like to spread, so give them space – about 18 inches apart. Ensure that you mix in either a good amount of organic matter (such as leaf mold) or a slow-release fertilizer. 

How to care for Creeping Phlox

Watering and Feeding

Like many things in the garden, and in life, balance is the key. While young phlox appreciate it if you regularly water them, mature plants are drought tolerant. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so let the soil dry between watering. As for food, a balanced, slow-release fertiliser in early spring should do the trick.

Pruning and Maintenance

After the first bloom, a light trim will encourage denser growth and potentially a second blooming. Remove dead or faded flowers, a practice charmingly called deadheading, to prolong the flowering period.

Common Pests and Problems

Watch out for spider mites and whiteflies. A little organic insecticide such as neem oil (which is better for the environment than insecticidal soaps) can be your ally against these pests. And if you notice powdery mildew, ensure better air circulation around your plants.

Companions for Creeping Phlox

Thinking of garden aesthetics? Creeping phlox pairs brilliantly with:

  • Spring bulbs: Tulips and daffodils add height and drama.
  • Perennial grasses: They sway beautifully, contrasting against the phlox’s carpet.
  • Sedum: Their succulent nature complements the phlox’s texture.


In the world of ground covers, creeping phlox shines brilliantly. Its ease of care combined with its stunning display makes it a cherished plant for beginners and seasoned gardeners alike. So, roll up those sleeves and let’s bring some phlox magic to your garden!

A creeping phlox growing in a rockery

Creeping Phlox Frequently Asked Questions

When to plant creeping phlox?

The ideal time to plant creeping phlox is in late spring or early autumn. These seasons offer moderate temperatures, ensuring the plants get established without the stress of extreme heat or cold.

How to propagate creeping phlox?

Creeping phlox can be propagated through both seeds and stem cuttings. For seeds, simply sow them in a tray or pots filled with a well-draining soil mix. For stem cuttings:
– Choose a healthy stem, preferably without flower buds.
– Cut a segment around 4-6 inches long.
– Remove leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.
– Dip the cut end in rooting hormone (optional but helps with faster root development).
– Plant the cutting in a pot with fresh potting soil, ensuring the stripped portion is beneath the soil level.
– Keep the soil consistently moist until you notice new growth, indicating the cutting has rooted.

How to transplant creeping phlox?

Transplanting creeping phlox is quite straightforward:
– Choose a cool, cloudy day to reduce transplant shock.
– Water the phlox well a few hours before the move.
– Dig around the plant, ensuring you get as much of the root ball as possible.
– Lift the plant gently and move it to the new location, which should already have a hole prepared.
– Plant it at the same depth it was previously growing, fill in with soil, and water well.
– Monitor the transplanted phlox closely for the first few weeks, watering it as necessary to keep the soil consistently moist.

When to cut back creeping phlox?

After the phlox’s first bloom, usually in late spring or early summer, is the best time for a light trim. Cutting back will not only encourage denser growth but may also promote a second round of blooming. Remove dead or faded flowers and trim back leggy stems to maintain a compact appearance. If the phlox becomes too dense or woody in the center over the years, consider a more significant cutback in early spring to rejuvenate the plant.