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Important Facts About Creepers

Important Facts About Creepers

Climbers and creepers is a group of plants or vines which need support of some kind in your garden. Because climbers and creepers grow vertically in the garden they are great space savers and can be used to provide masses of foliage so are useful to cover walls, trees or a fence. Climbers and creepers can also provide great privacy but they do need a bit of attention and care. Find out all the gardening information you need on climbers and creepers, from soil to flowers to sun or shade, to make sure your climbers and creepers grow to their full potential and provide your garden with the screen or burst of colour you need. We have information on all kinds of climbers and creepers from the popular Bougainvillea to the Wisteria and Ivy.

  1. Plant Profile: Creeping Phlox (Phlox Subulata)

Creeping phlox is a familiar spring-blooming creeping plant that is frequently seen in rock gardens, growing from crevices in stone walls, or planted as a ground cover to blanket areas of the ground. Surely the best feature of creeping phlox is its flower production. Not only are the individual blooms pretty, but there are also so many of them that the display is truly something special to behold.

The flowers are so densely packed that it can be hard to make out the plants’ foliage from a distance; once blooming is completed, the tiny leaves remain green for much of the year.

Description:  In spring, creeping phlox plants produce small, fragrant flowers in dense clusters. The colors available are red, white, blue, rose, lavender, purple, and variegated, in addition to the signature pink color. Creeping phlox plants reach, at most, 6 inches in height and can spread out up to 2 feet to form a mat across the soil surface. Some of the needle-like or awl-like foliage remains green throughout the winter.

A plant that attracts butterflies, creeping phlox is a splendid choice for butterfly gardens. Luckily, deer are less likely to eat this plant than many others, qualifying it as a relatively deer-resistant ground cover.

Botanical Information: Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) is a herbaceous perennial plant related to the familiar upright garden phlox (P. paniculata).

Creeping flox is sometimes known as “moss pink” or “moss phlox,” based on its growth habit. Indigenous to eastern and central portions of the U.S., this perennial ground cover can be grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 9.

Landscape Uses: Since creeping phlox plants stay short and spread easily, they are widely used as ground covers.

  1. Phlox Stolonifera ‘Home Fires’: the Other Creeping Phlox

Phlox stolonifera is the botanical name for a plant commonly called “creeping phlox” (see below for help distinguishing this plant from another, more popular plant with the same common name). ‘Home Fires’ is the cultivar name of the particular type that I, myself grow.

Phlox stolonifera ‘Home Fires’ is categorized by botanists as an herbaceous perennial. It is also considered semi-evergreen.

What Does Phlox stolonifera ‘Home Fires’ Look Like?
At maturity, this plant stands at about 10-12 inches tall when in bloom (6 inches when not in bloom), with a width of two or three times that.
Because it forms dense colonies, the width of an individual plant actually won’t be apparent after a while, since it will blend into the whole. The foliage is a mix of narrow leaves in the upper part of the plant and rounded leaves below.

The flowers are pink and come in clusters. These fragrant flowers bloom in mid-spring.

Where Does It Grow?
The species plant from which the cultivar derives is native to eastern North America. You can grow Phlox stolonifera ‘Home Fires’ in planting zones 5-9.

This perennial is perhaps best used as a shade garden plant, although some growers are successful locating it in sunny areas as long as they faithfully furnish water when the soil dries out. We grow ours in partial shade. It has just average water needs but does require a soil that is friable and drains well.

How to Care for Your Plants?
Maintenance is minimal. We fertilize mine with compost whenever we get around to it. If you encounter problems with powdery mildew, try to increase air circulation by: Practicing good flower-bed hygiene (remove fallen tree leaves, dead growth, etc.), dividing the plants (either in spring or fall) 

  1. Creeping Thyme

What is commonly known as creeping thyme refers to one of several woody-stemmed perennial species of the Thymus genus that are good ground covers for sunny areas. While not all types are specifically grown as herbs, they do have a pleasant scent and most can be used for culinary purposes.

The thymus genus is a large group, all of which are perennial plants in moderate climates. While some are upright plants with a shrub-like growth habit, the creeping types described here are low, with a vine-like growth habit.
Description: Related to the edible herbs, creeping thymes are also aromatic. They are principally grown for the fine texture of the leaves as they spread out to softly blanket the ground, but they also produce flowers of various colors, depending on type. The flowers usually appear late spring and early summer. Spicy orange thyme, creeping lemon thyme and caraway thyme all bear pink blooms and stay short (4 inches or less). Red creeping thyme and white creeping thyme attain a height similar to these. Wooly thyme may reach 6 inches in height, but do not worry: it does not spread quickly.

Botanical Information: Thyme is an indigenous plant in Eurasia but has naturalized in parts of North America. Butterflies and bees are drawn to this herb.

Landscape Uses: A versatile plant, creeping thyme it has four primary uses:

As ground cover for weed control in landscaping.
As fragrant plants in a landscape devoted to aromas.
As a culinary herb.
Folk medicine.

Creeping thyme plants generally stay short and can be effective ground covers. Some people go as far as using them as grass alternatives. A more common use for them is as a ground cover to fill in the spaces between stepping stones, although caraway thyme may be too aggressive for this purpose. Wooly thyme, which has silvery foliage, may be a better choice in tight areas. This slow grower will not engulf your stones so quickly in a mass of foliage. White and red thymes, planted en masse, provide a fine floral display. Wooly thyme meanwhile is grown for its soft, silvery foliage.

In a scent garden, creeping thyme can be used as an edging plant or as a groundcover around shrubs and taller perennials. Or, it can be used to fill in between pathway stones through a scent garden. As your feet brush against the thyme, its fragrance will be released. The Elizabethan writer, Francis Bacon had this fact in mind when he refers to thyme in his essay, Of Gardens.

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