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Arboretum Names Best Growing Phlox
Mt. Cuba Experiments for Three Years


The Perennial Plant Association chose David garden phlox, pictured here, as Perennial Plant of the Year in 2002. It exuberates a wonderful fragrance, is highly resistant to powdery mildew and attracts a large amount of pollinators. 2002 was the most recent year a phlox flower won the award.

An arboretum in northern Delaware, named Mt. Cuba Center, recently conducted the largest trial study in its history. For three years, the center grew 94 different species of the phlox flower to determine which specific type was the most resistant to powdery mildew and which attracted the most pollinators.

Interestingly enough, the trial site at Mt. Cuba Center is actually not the most ideal location for growing phlox because the flower prefers to grow along a wooded edge. However, researchers did this on purpose to simulate the environment of the average homeowner. George Coombs, the center's manager of research, stated, "We're maintaining them in a way we would expect most homeowners to maintain their yard, which is to provide little maintenance, and no supplemental water."

Of the 94 different types examined, two stood Phlox paniculata out as being the most resilient to the effects of powdery mildew: "Glamour Girl," and "Delta Snow." These two species exemplified a remarkable resistance to the mildew, notes the researchers.

As for which type of phlox was the best for attracting pollinators, a separate research group, called the Pollinator Watch Team, closely observed how many pollinators visited each flower for a span of two years. What they found was that 539 butterflies visited Phlox paniculata "Jeana," during this time, while the second most visited was Phlox paniculata "Lavelle" with 117 visits.

This study aptly applies to gardeners around the world, as the phlox flower is a widespread favorite for landscapers from many different countries.

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December 6, 2019, 12:35 pm PDT

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