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Drummond’s Phlox

Drummond Phlox at the Wildflower Center

Phlox drummondii

This lovely little annual phlox has bloomed in my garden from November until April. It is not as showy as the big garden phlox like Phlox paniculata, but I love how little I need to take care of it and how it blooms when not much else is. I’ve often seen it for sale in nurseries in the fall along with other annuals like snapdragons and alyssum, but it’s just as easy to grow from seed and will bloom in fall if you start early enough. (The seed germinates in about 3-5 days if you keep it moist, and often flowers about 7 weeks after sowing.)

Phlox drummondii is native almost exclusively to Texas, although it has naturalized in other parts of the south. In 1838, botanist Thomas Drummond sent seeds of the wildflower to Britain and shortly after was introduced to nurseries in continental Europe, where it is widely cultivated–making it possibly Texas’ most famous wildflower outside of Texas. According to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, over 200 different strains and colors which come true from seed were developed from Drummond’s small seed collection.

Even in Texas, the same flower takes on different shades depending on its habitat. In East Texas, there are more reddish shades, while in Central Texas area the wild colors are rosy and pink. Any given packet of seeds from local wildflower sellers usually has a mix, and I get a mixture of lavender, pink, mauve and a brilliant magenta shades. Sometimes I can detect a light phlox fragrance and sometimes none at all. I wonder if it depends on the wind or temperatures.

They are not very compact growing–it seems as if the nurseries get them to grow more this way, but I am not sure how. Perhaps I just don’t deadhead the flowers enough; I leave them to go to seed and they keep on growing. They are suited to a more meadow-y garden or filling in spaces around more formal plantings because they are very informal. Like other phloxes, even Drummond’s phlox tends to get a little mildew in spring, but usually by that time, they are ready to give way to the summer flowers anyway.