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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

Phlox - Perennial or Summer Phlox

'John Fanick' and 'Victoria' phlox

If you like to have butterflies in your summer garden, then summer phlox, Phlox paniculata, should be a staple in your flower beds. In midsummer, when the spring flowers have faded, summer phlox will bring clouds of butterflies to your garden and even attract a few hummingbirds. In addition, you will have bouquets of fragrant flowers that can be used as cut flowers in the house.

Phlox paniculata is native in the eastern third of the United States. In the 1700's Europeans found these plants growing wild in damp meadows, along forest edges and in the rich soils of flood plains and saw their potential as garden plants. Their showy, fragrant flowers quickly became a hit throughout Europe and by the mid 1800's they were commonly available in the nursery trade. By the 1950's there were hundreds of varieties available as the result of breeding programs in England, Russia, Germany and Holland. As a result many varieties were planted throughout Europe and North America but in the intervening years many of these have disappeared from the commercial trade.

Although summer phlox is common to old gardens throughout the southeastern United States, the number of varieties found in old Texas gardens are limited. Most of the introduced varieties are prone to powdery mildew, spider mites, and do not tolerate the heat of our Texas summers. However, in the early 1990's, Greg Grant observed a row of summer phlox with showy clusters of light pink with a darker pink throat flowers growing in Saint Augustine grass, half under a live oak and half in the sun in southeast San Antonio. It was the only color other than magenta pink that he had ever seen as a surviving perennial in a southern garden. Greg received some plants from the lady who owned the house and it was included in a Texas Superstar trial of summer phlox. Results of those trials at several locations across the state indicated that this was the top performing summer phlox along with the standard variety of phlox found in old Texas gardens.

However, there was no name for this plant. The lady and house were gone. John Fanick of Fanick's Gardens in San Antonio thought that he had carried the plant at one time but he also had no name for it. Since the lady and her house had been close to the nursery, we believe that is where it had come from. When John died suddenly, the plant was named in honor of John, i.e., the 'John Fanick' phlox. The other summer phlox that did well was the old standby for southern gardens which is named 'Victoria'. Victoria has lighter green foliage and a more open growth habit than 'John Fanick.' .

In general, summer phlox prefer fertile soils high in organic matter, but both 'John Fanick' and 'Victoria' (the name given to the old standard garden phlox) perform fairly well in less desirable situations. In general, these perennials can grow to more than 3 feet in height but fertility will greatly influence ultimate plant height.

Both varieties grow in full sun to light shade but are best in full sun. Although both varieties are tolerant of powdery mildew planting them in areas of good air circulation (space well and thin out stems as needed) will lessen any potential powdery mildew problems. Avoid overhead watering will also lessen any disease problems. Appreciates a summer mulch which helps keep the root zone cool. Remove faded flower panicles to prolong bloom period. To propagate them, you can divide clumps in the spring or take tip cuttings in spring and early summer. Neither variety comes true from seed.