I have some folks, including a garden center employee, tell me "thrift" should not be fertilized at all while others say that's the reason some of the drifts fade and slowly fade away is because of LACK of fertilizer. Does anyone have the magic answer?
If you are referring to P. subulata I don't fertilize but I have found it needs to be cut back hard after blooming.
This not only encourages new green growth later in the season but also prevents the clumps from becoming too woody at the base.
I also find it needs to be weeded a few times over the summer as plants and grass grow through it easily.
This can be an advantage if you have a plant like butterfly weed, A.tuberosa. that appears a little late and forget where it is and plant something over it in the spring when it looks like there is an empty space.
In another area I have trout lily planted right in a large clump of moss phlox. There is only a brief overlap of the pale purple phlox and the yellow blooms of the pagoda troutlily but it still forms a lovely green mat under the yellow blooms and intensifies the red tulips right behind it.
There are two plants I know of with the common name creeping phlox.
Phlox subulata is commonly called creeping phlox, moss phlox (this is what I know it as) or thrift.
Phlox stoloniferia is also called creeping phlox.
P.subulata has evergreen, pine needle like leaves, is covered in flowers in early spring and likes sun and well drained soil. It is extremely easy to grow in hot, dry spots and the clumps increase in size easily. It can then be divided and started easily in other spots in the garden in the spring or fall. Maintenance is very limited, just rake out any leaves, weed out volunteer plants among the leaves, and cut back hard once a year after blooming.
Phlox stolonifera, creeping phlox, has small oval leaves, likes part sun to shade in a moist area. It's more of a edge of the woods plant and spreads by stolons and forms a nice ground cover. Not aggressive and very pretty planted with tiarella (foamflower) and wood phlox (Phlox divaricata) which is a little taller, about 12 inches, and airier.
Either of the above plants can be low maintenance if it is placed in the right spot.
There is another plant called sea thrift which has grassy leaves and small pom pom flowers.
Common names become confusing sometimes because many plants have the same common name.
M P. subulata has been happy for years with just here and there topdressing with compost or something very light- I generally am neglectfull on fertilizing anything. I do cut back like sempervirens says.
Because it is such a low grower, I usually just make a compost tea and fertilize after it has flowered in the spring, then again in the fall before Halloween. I give it a fairly strong fertilize when I do because that is all it gets until the next feed. But with it being an organic I believe it is better for the plant and is why my thrift/creeping phlox keeps its beaitiful green foilage even under a week of standing snow:0) Hope this helps
OK, I am learning from my mistakes, or laziness. While my cooler mountain climate hasn't been a problem, in fact, extending my blooming season to 6 weeks, neglect has caused some problems.
So I have dead patches. I also researched creeping phlox culture and found I need some lime, some fertilizer and more trimming.
So dumb, especially after posting these issues in the first place. Ah well, a picture from a couple of years ago will help
I lost one side of my phlox over the last year due to some clumping grass, that is a toughie to get out and a toughie to keep out. Having less time to get out and remove it it took over one side and the phlox looks baaad, maybe though with it completely removed from the roots now the phlox may return thinking it just had a little rehabing trim...LOL... it was crazy how this grass thrived and conqured in just a short time. I lost all my new plantings dur to deer pawing it up and I think eating the roots of the newer plants. Next time I plant I will put down some wire over with some landscape pins to keep them from pulling the danged plants out the ground:O)
Voraceous plant predators, enemy #1 Thw Whitetailed Deer
I do not know what kind of nasty stuff this was I will look and see if I find any more patches and see if we can ID this one, Not Pleasant, cant really pull it out, and it just masses around the good plants, wish it would grow on the bare patches instead of in the beds, same clay soil...LOL
I'd hang em high (the Deer) if only I was up when they were tearing things up.