How to Prune Creeping Phlox

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Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata and Phlox stolonifera) is a low-growing perennial revered for its mat of colorful flowers in springtime. Growing only 5 to 8 inches tall, it does spread out to become 24 inches or more wide. Trimming the plant back no more than 50 percent keeps it looking tidy within its garden space. It also improves plant vigor when pruning is undertaken after the flowering display.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand-held grass shears
  • Landscape-grade scissors

Ensure the creeping phlox has finished its floral display. Wait until late spring to schedule any trimming so that flower buds are not cut off.

Shear the tips of the stems, 1 to 3 inches, all across the mat of creeping phlox foliage. Keep the shears level while trimming so the plant remains a relatively smooth shape and texture as more trimming is done.

Brush away the trimming debris from atop the creeping phlox with a brushing or sweeping motion with your hand.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the creeping phlox plant has become too leggy or large, the stems can be cut back to no more than 1/2 their length. Avoid trimming back into bare, tan-colored stems too near the plant center.
  • Don't trim creeping phlox from late summer to the following spring; you will end up cutting away the flower buds. Only trim after the spring flowering wanes.
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