Wildflower Wednesday: Phlox divaricata

It’s nearly time.

Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox in my back garden in late March.
Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox, in my back garden in late March.

Each day I go outside and clear off more debris to give the Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox, a chance to breathe and absorb the sun’s rays.

Phlox divaricata with Narcissus 'Geranium'. I found the name for this daffodil in an older post.
Phlox divaricata with Narcissus ‘Geranium’.

It’s a heady time filled with birdsong and the scent of both daffodils and woodland phlox, a beautiful wildflower that should be grown in every garden. Also called wild blue phlox and wild sweet William, it is a gorgeous and ephemeral plant that spreads by seeds and roots. Some people think it takes over the shade garden, but I guess I don’t mind. I spread the seeds and move clumps about here and there for better coverage. As soon as it finishes blooming, P. divaricata blends back into the landscape unnoticed until next spring.

Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox with Nassella tenuissima, Mexican feather grass
Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox with Mexican feather grass planted in a shallow border. I lined the border with Nassella tenuissima, Mexican feather grass because it softens the concrete.

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, woodland phlox is  “[b]est grown in humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Prefers rich, moist, organic soils. Appreciates a light summer mulch which helps retain moisture and keep roots cool.”

In other words, it is a forest plant. Put shredded leaves or compost where you want it to spread, but don’t use Back to Nature cotton burr compost because it seems to inhibit seed growth. You’ll want this beauty to reseed.  At least, I think you will.

Woodland phlox is native to the eastern U.S. and Canada. It is native to Oklahoma.

Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox.
P. divaricata, woodland phlox.

One more thing . . . woodland phlox comes in white, purple and blue. ‘May Breeze’ is a white selection introduced by Piet Oudolf from the Netherlands. For those who don’t know, Oudolf is the designer behind some of the world’s most beautiful naturalistic gardens like the High Line and the Lurie Garden in the U.S. The links are my visits to both gardens.

Ooh, this makes me want to take another trip, but not just yet. The garden calls.

Phlox divaricata and Chinese fringe flower in the shade garden.
Woodland phlox and Chinese fringe flower in the shade garden.

As for woodland phlox, there are other selected cultivars, but I like blue ones best. I don’t need another white plant in my spring garden. I need one the color of the prairie sky on a sunny day.

The back garden taken yesterday. See all the Phlox divaricata I've transplanted around. It makes for a lot of lovely blue and purple each spring.
The back garden taken in spring 2015. See all the Phlox divaricata I’ve transplanted around. It makes for a lot of lovely blue and purple each spring.

‘Blue Moon’ is a selected blue variety of this phlox, and TLC Nursery on Memorial has several plants. I saw it the day before yesterday, and you can rarely find woodland phlox locally. I also put the word out on Instagram and Facebook, so you’re forewarned. Get there quickly and buy some for yourself. I may, in fact, run over to TLC today. I could use some in that shade garden we planted in front of the little garden shed.

'Blue Moon' Phlox divaricata at TLC Nursery in Oklahoma City on Memorial Road.
‘Blue Moon’ Phlox divaricata at TLC Nursery in Oklahoma City on Memorial Road.

This post is part of Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail of Clay and Limestone. She’s my go-to-girl on native plants that like both Tennessee and Oklahoma. Head over to her blog for more.



  1. It’s such a lovely shade of blue. We had this in the mountains of NC and it spread like crazy! Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      It does spread really easily even here in Oklahoma. Have a good one!

  2. KaTinka Bolding says:

    Really beautiful. I made my way to TLC today and bought several of them. Now if I can just keep the deer off them!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      KaTinka, I should’ve had all of you tell TLC I told you to come. LOL! JK.~~Dee

  3. Diana Studer says:

    A perfect blue with just that hint of purple

    1. Dee Nash says:

      It definitely is. I found some in my woodland and transplanted it last weekend.~~De

  4. Sonia says:

    Oh thanks for the tip…I plan on a trip to TLC on Friday..hope they still have some phlox!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Sonia, did you find some??

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I finally got some of this planted last year. I worried that the plants I bought wouldn’t take because I planted them so late in the spring. I was so happy to see the green up already. I can’t wait to see how they bloom. I will definitely get more this spring if I see it available.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      I’m so glad it overwintered for you Lisa!

  6. Shirley says:

    Ooooh, that blue! So pretty for early spring in your garden.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      It’s one of those colors that just stirs my heart.

  7. I love it, too. It blooms in May for us northerners. I don’t think I’ve found seedlings yet. But then, I haven’t had it as long as you.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Kathy, I don’t think I started getting seedlings until quite a while after I planted it. It was only when I started taking the seeds and throwing them about that it began to truly spread.

  8. Gail says:

    What a delightful post. Phlox divaricata sure looks beautiful in your garden, well, your garden looks beautiful!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Gail, thanks so much for hosting.

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