Phlox flowers come from a perennial and annual genus of roughly 67 species in the polemoniaceae family, which are mostly native to areas of North America. Phloxes are considered very easy to grow, as they are a hardy breed that only require a decent amount of moisture, rich soil and either full or partial sunlight to thrive. Phlox flowers generally blossom from large clumps which consist of thick, strong stems, lance-shaped leaves, and multiple five-petaled flower heads that burst forth from small tubes. Their color range is quite large – from the common white, pink, blue, yellow, red and purple, to the more muted shades of lavender, rose and magenta; they may also be bicolored.
Phlox flowers were considered one of the most widely used blossoms from the late 1880s all the way to the 1940s. Although these may have been their early glory days, they are still a well loved plant in many perennial gardens all over North America and Europe. Although their popularity truly began in the 1800s, they received their first piece of recognition in 1732, when the German botanist Johann Jacob Dillenius was commissioned to write a description of Dr. James Sherard’s famed Eltham garden, which harbored a number of phlox paniculata. The phlox drummondii – which can now be seen growing mostly wild in southeastern regions of the United States – has an interesting history of its own. During the early 1830s, Thomas Drummond – a curator of the Belfast Botanic Garden – began an independent exploration of America, searching for new flowers to take home to Britain. Weathering foul winter conditions, near starvation, animal attacks and illness, Thomas Drummond sent home – amongst other plants – phlox flowers, where the species was aptly named after him. Although many phloxes may be seen blooming uncontrollably as wild flowers, or as simple border flowers in gardens, they have still become the center of several public events. For instance, Fuji Shibazakura, which contains many of the same amusements as a regular festival, but includes the viewing of a large field carpeted with pink phloxes. In the United States, the Perennial Pleasures Nursery in Vermont offers a similar festival; however, they show a larger variety of phlox blossoms, which may be viewed during the first few weeks of August.
Giving phlox as a gift may come about as either a spontaneous gesture, or one that has been thought long and hard about. Phlox flowers are sometimes given the expression of, “sweet dreams,” and can be plucked from a garden and given at the end of a particularly good date. On the other hand, they represent compatibility, the uniting of souls, and the implied proposal of marriage. In this instance, they are generally given as a shy way of asking for the recipient’s hand in marriage.