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August's plant of the month is the Phlox

9 August 2013
August's plant of the month is the Phlox

August's plant of the month is the phlox, one of those plants no cottage garden border should be without. Quintessentially romantic, its fragrant clusters of pink, white or purple flowers release their perfume in the evenings: they're also a big favourite with bees and other pollinating insects making them ideal for the wildlife garden, too.


Modern-day varieties are bred to grow sturdy and healthy, so you don't need to do the staking once required by traditional phloxes, and they're no longer as susceptible to mildew as they once were either (though keep the roots well watered to be on the safe side).


Look out for the 'Cocktail' series, growing to a compact 40cm tall and perfect for containers, or the impressive 70cm tall 'Volcano' series. There are also variegated varieties like 'Harlequin' with creamy edges to the leaves, and 'Frosted Elegance' with pink flowers and white-edged leaves.


Border phlox like rich, moist soil and some shade, and will reward you with a truly spectacular display of flowers from July to September. Cut every other clump back at the end of May, with a trick known as the 'Chelsea Chop', to delay flowering and take the display even later, well into the first frosts.