Mt. Cuba Center Research Report - Phlox for the Mid-Atlantic Region Mt. Cuba Center Phlox for the Mid-Atlantic Region - Page 13

SUN PHLOX Visitor Favorites Mt. Cuba Center visitors were asked to participate in our phlox research by picking three of their favorite plants in the trial. The goal of this program is to provide direct feedback from the consumer to the nursery industry about which plants the gardening public finds most exciting. Over 400 votes were collected, and the five most favored cultivars, in order, were: 'Jeana', 'Ditomdre' (Coral Crème Drop), 'Blushing Shortwood', 'Dasfive' (Ice Cap), and 'Babyface'. All five of these cultivars were either top perfomers or additional recommended selections. A dark-form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeds on Phlox paniculata 'Blushing Shortwood'. Some females have evolved this darker coloring to mimic their poisonous relative, the Pipevine Swallowtail, and avoid predation. About the Sun Phlox Trial This evaluation took place at Mt. Cuba Center, located near Wilmington, DE (USDA Hardiness Zone 7a/6b). Ninety-four taxa representing eight species were trialed for a three-year period (2015-2017). Plants were evaluated to assess their habit, vigor, floral display, and disease resistance. Five plants of each taxon were spaced linearly on 2' centers. They were grown in full sun in a soil best described as clay-loam with a pH near 6.5. Each species or cultivar was measured weekly and assigned three different ratings, each on a scale of 1-5 (1 being very poor and 5 being excellent). The floral display rating was based on flower coverage and overall appeal and then adjusted for bloom periods longer or shorter than average. The rating for plant/foliage quality included attributes like habit, vigor, and foliage retention. The rating for powdery mildew resistance was based on the amount of foliage affected by the disease. The plant and adjusted floral ratings were then averaged, after which points were added or deducted for powdery mildew resistance. Points were also deducted for deaths of two or more plants. Throughout the Phlox trial, plants were given minimal care. No fungicides were used, and supplemental water was provided only during the first year to encourage establishment and during any extremely dry periods. This strategy is designed to test the plants in a manner similar to how most landscapes are maintained. However, many of these plants would have performed better with more frequent water. 13