moss phlox

How To Grow And Care For Moss Phlox

Moss phlox is a low-growing, easy-going, evergreen perennial that thrives in harsh conditions. It is ideal for adding a burst of color to a rock garden or creating a cascading cover over stone walls.

Phlox subulata provides a lovely pastel-colored spring carpet. Planting and caring for moss phlox does not need specialist expertise. Moss phlox creates a practically unfettered ground cover or cascading plant whether grown over a rockery or in difficult soil conditions. Consider planting it between pavers, in a planter, or as part of a colorful spring bed. Other varieties include white, soft lavender-blue, translucent pale pink to deep pink, bright scarlet, and lavender, with some having a darker or lighter eye.

Read more: These 22 perennials will thrive in your garden for decades

Growing Moss Phlox  

Small starry, five-pointed blooms in red, lavender, pink, white, or bluish-purple bloom on needle-like leaves. Moss phlox flowers in the spring and has long, spreading stems that eventually turn woody. These thicker growths eventually stop producing flowers and should be removed from the plant to allow the plant’s younger, softer stems to bloom. Furthermore, the plant has a modest growth rate and may reach a height of 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) with a spread of 2 feet (.6 m).

Here are some brief facts about the popular aesthetic plant:

  • Latin name:  Phlox subulata   
  • Other names: Creeping Phlox   
  • Native to:  North America   
  • Invasiveness: No    
  • Tenderness: Herbaceous perennial  
  • Sun: Full Sun to partial shade  
  • Water: Weekly   
  • Soil: Slightly Alkaline, Loamy, well-draining    
  • Hardiness zone: Zones 5 through 9   
  • When to plant: Spring  
  • Spacing: 15-18 inches  
  • Plant height: 5-8 inches  
  • Bloom period: Spring, summer
  • Time to maturity: 2 years   
  • Container friendly: Yes 
  • Fertilizer: organic plant food  
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic
  • Deer resistant: Yes
  • Pest resistant:  Yes

Moss phlox is a strong plant with a creeping habit and a dense carpet of blooms that bloom early to mid-spring before dying back until frost. Dry, rocky, or sandy places, savannas, rocky ledges, slopes, clearings, and open forests are all-natural habitats. Moss phlox gets its name from cushion-like leaf mats that resemble moss. When young, the stems of moss phlox are green, but as they develop, they become tan and woody. As new growth spreads out from the plant’s core, older plants thin out. It comes in a variety of colors, including pink, red, lavender, blue-purple, and white, and blooms from late April to early May. Shearing the plants after they’ve flowered encourage denser growth and smaller blossoming.


Drought-tolerant moss phlox should be watered during dry times or anytime the foliage begins to wilt. During the growth season, phlox should receive around an inch of water each week. Water at the root zone rather than above the leaves to keep it healthy. Although mature plants have considerable drought resistance, this plant requires a modest level of soil moisture. Unless you have a lot of rain, you’ll have to water it once a week, especially in the summer.


Planting and caring for Moss phlox is straightforward. The plant has a laid-back personality and thrives in a range of environments. As long as it is in full sun to moderate shade, almost any soil is good for producing Moss phlox. Plant it in a sunny position with wet but well-drained soil for the greatest results.


Organic matter-rich soil is preferred for Moss phlox. It loves a slightly acidic soil pH, although it may also grow in neutral or slightly alkaline conditions. It also requires well-drained soil. They thrive on soil that is wet, fertile, and well-drained, and that has been treated with compost or other organic materials.


Fertilizing your Moss phlox in the late winter or early spring can encourage growth and produce a more robust bloom. Follow the package recommendations when using a general slow-release fertilizer for blooming plants.


Moss phlox is a hardy plant, to say the least. One of the most appealing characteristics of Moss phlox is that it spreads readily without being invasive. It will effectively cover a large area while respectfully stepping around any existing vegetation.

Growing Moss Phlox In Containers

Moss phlox is a pot looks lovely and takes little maintenance once established. Moss phlox (Phlox subulata) is perfect for containers because of its green leaves and profusion of flowers in late spring and early summer. The trailing tendrils can cascade organically in a patio pot or hanging basket, avoiding the exuberant plant from overwhelming other plants in the landscape.

Care & Tips

In areas with little winter snowfall, phlox only needs to be trimmed in the fall. A fertilizer treatment in the early spring encourages new growth and blossoming of the plant. In hot summer months, even established plants may require more watering, and plants along rockeries may exhibit indications of blistering owing to the heat environment. After flowering, the stems can be trimmed back to encourage a second bloom. Cutting the plant back in late winter to allow for renewal and the production of fresh, more compact stems is another option for Moss phlox care. It’s also crucial to keep an eye out for mites and other pests and to deal with infestations as soon as they appear with organic insecticidal soap. Plants in the Deep South will benefit from a little dappled shade in the summer.

Common Problems

Powdery mildew is less of a problem for Moss phlox than it is for other phlox species, however, spider mites can be a problem in hot, dry regions. Insecticidal soaps are frequently beneficial in this situation. Another approach is to spray the plants with a strong stream of water regularly to dislodge the mites and keep them at bay. The foliage is tasty to rabbits, but not so much to deer.

In damp, humid conditions, these plants are also sensitive to foliar nematodes. Nematodes develop brown and eventually black sores on the leaves of the plants. Controlling these soil organisms is difficult. As a result, unhealthy plants must be removed and killed, and the ground must be maintained clean.

Propagating Moss Phlox 

Division, stem cuttings, and rooted stems are all straightforward ways to grow Moss phlox. Cuttings are a very straightforward way to reproduce plants if done correctly, as they root quickly after a few months. All you have to do is remove a 6-inch-long portion from a rooted stem or a lateral branch at the tip of the plant.

The History Of Moss Phlox

About the bright blossom colors of some kinds, the name is derived from the Greek word phlox, which means flame. Fertilized blooms usually only yield one big seed. The fruit is a longitudinally dehiscent capsule with three or more valves that can explode when they separate. Moss phlox is an excellent ground cover that spreads quickly. It may be used to cover banks, fill gaps beneath tall trees, and pour over hillsides. Moss phlox flowers in the spring and has long, spreading stems that eventually turn woody. By the late 1700s, it had been introduced to agriculture.

Uses For Moss Phlox 

April’s full moon – the “Full Pink Moon” – is named after the moss phlox flower, announcing the advent of swaths of purple and pink that, as early bloomers, signal the start of spring. Native cultures utilized the leaves to heal boils, and the tribes also used part of the roots as eyewash. The leaves of this plant were utilized by the Cheyenne Indians to alleviate bodily numbness. They would crush the leaves and blooms and use them as a stimulating body wash.

In April and May, carpets of moss phlox bloom across the United States, signaling that spring is here to stay. The plant, another easy-to-grow perennial, clings to steep banks, grows snuggly against rocks, and flows down rock walls with little help from the gardener. 

Mayukh Saha
Freelance Writer
Mayukh is a Content Marketer and Social Media Manager with over 5 years of experience in the industry. Mayukh believes in the power of content; how it can positively impact lives, scale businesses and touch people. In his spare time Mayukh likes to read about latest tech trends and loves to travel in the nature. You can reach him at [email protected].