Irresistible! The faded mauve & cream blossoms of Phlox drummondii 'Cherry Caramel' fit effortlessly alongside almost any arrangement with pinks, purples, rust colors; even the showier zinnias can use a little subtlety to pull them in. What's not to love?
Well, they are sparse producers, the flowers are quite small, they bloom on short stems early in the season (more on that below), their stems are somewhat fragile and grow in twisty shapes if not in netting. Other than that....
Even given all the red flags, I will continue to pursue the relationship. The seedlings in the photo above were sown on Feb 22, about 2 1/2 weeks ago. This first batch will most likely end up in the hoophouse, with later plantings heading into the field. Johnny's says they should be started in bigger pots because they don't like transplanting, but I haven't noticed a difference.
About stem length - I found this advice just now when doing a web search. The author points to a tendency to bloom early as a drawback, adding, "(W)hat you’re going to do is pinch off the developing flowers and buds. So instead of blooming, it’s going to put out more stems and leaves and grow a little bit taller.
Once you do this a couple of times, your phlox will get bigger and taller and then suddenly you’ve got a big and bushy phlox plant that has multiple lovely long stems for you to cut from."
Here's to becoming a devious manipulator of unsuspecting flowers!