Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Plant of the Week: Smooth Phlox (Phlox glaberrima)

This may be my favorite spring blooming phlox of all the various species found in this state. It flowers later than the very early blooming species like woodland phlox, starry cleft phlox, etc. and it usually flowers more in the May period.  It also requires a different type of habitat, light shade usually in moist soils (often at the edge of wet woods, moist prairies, etc.).  It typically gets about a foot to two feet tall and is generally unbranched.  However, you can get lateral branches, and hence more flowers, if the central stem is cut early in the spring. It generally has sessile leaves and a taproot, but it appears to make somewhat of a small cluster through seed drop by the parent plant if it is given the appropriate growing conditions.  The clusters of 1/4 to 1/2" wide flowers range in size from a handful to twenty or more.  Flower color can vary from pink to lavender and they are quite fragrant.  This is not that easy of a plant to grow and it is definitely not drought tolerant and will die during periods of extreme drought.  It likes moist, high organic soils with lots of compost.  It prefers light shade but grows in full sun although moisture becomes more important for the plant under these growing conditions.  The flowers are visited by butterflies (typically skippers, swallowtails, and monarchs) and some other small flies.  It is very susceptible to powdery mildew in some cases and the vegetation will readily be eaten by deer, rabbits, and other herbivores.  This plant makes an excellent cut flower.  Great combinations of blue flag, Louisiana, and copper iris would make for some excellent showy displays in the garden for that wet spot as long as there isn't too much clay in the soil.

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