As a perennial, Phlox should be regularly deadheaded to ensure constant and beautiful blooms and growth. A long time favorite among gardeners, the Phlox is a ground covering plant that has adorned cottages and Victorian homes for several hundred years. It is one of those vintage plants that never loses its appeal. One of the keys to success with this hardy perennial is to have a regular routine of deadheading. Anyone who has a perennial is going to be familiar with this method of removing the dead blossoms and cutting back the plant in the fall for renewed, and reinvigorated growth in the spring. Here are a few tips to help you get started, or maybe learn something new, about deadheading.
Fall Activity, or Summer
One of the problems that perennials have is that they spend a lot of energy in forming seeds within the blossoms that they have. However, what gardeners want from their plants is to see more buds and blooms forming. This provides color and fragrance throughout the summer. Deadheading is one of those ways to keep the blooms coming.
Deadheading your Phlox is usually done in the fall. This is the time when the blooms are all gone and all that is left are the dead heads of the blossoms. Simply cut them off so the plant can get ready for the winter season. Do not let that stop you from doing it any other time, though. If you see that some of the blooms dying out during the summer, cut them off. This will let the Phlox produce more buds.
Do Not Cut Off Developing Buds
It is easy sometimes to get a little carried away and cut off too much. Sometimes the new flower buds are lopped off in the process. Take great care not to cut off any of the developing flower buds. Take your hand and follow along the dead flower top until you get to the developing bud. Cut the stem off just above the bud.
Cut Stem Off
A question that is often asked at nurseries, and in online forums, is how far down to cut off the stem. The best answer to that is to remove it if you are not sure. This is mostly for aesthetic purposes as the flower will not have the "decapitated" look. If you just leave the stem, then it will look quite out of place. Cut off the entire stem for a more pleasing look.
Pinch Off Heads
Pinching off heads is used to keep the flower from growing too large. Cutting back on the height of the flowers will keep the Phlox as a low ground cover that will look great as a border, or arbor accent.
Light Shearing Through The Summer
As the Phlox continues to grow, in addition to the deadheading, a light shearing will also help it to look its best. By cutting back some of the growth, you can keep the Phlox from getting too large, out of control, and have that unkempt look. This should be done as the new growth is starting.