Phloxes (Phlox spp.) are a group of about 50 species of flowering plants in the family Polemoniaceae, which contains about 300 species in total.
Phloxes are herbaceous plants with bright, showy flowers. Each flower has five red, pink, or white petals that are fused at their bases to form a tube, but remain separate at the top of the structure. These flowers are arranged in very attractive groups, known as an inflorescence. Phloxes are pollinated by long-tongued insects, and in some places by hummingbirds.
Many species of phlox are commonly cultivated in gardens as ornamentals, such as gilias (Gilia spp.) and Jacob's-ladder (Polemonium spp.). Among the more commonly grown herbaceous, perennial phloxes are the garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), sweet-William (P. maculata), and hybrids of these and other species. Drummond's pink (Phlox drummondii) is an annual that is commonly used as a bedding plant.
The natural habitats of many species of phlox are arctic and alpine environments, and some of these species do well in rock gardens. The moss pink (Phlox subulata) is commonly cultivated in this way.
Most species of phloxes are not cultivated, but their beauty as wildflowers can be appreciated in their native habitats. The wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) is a familiar species in moist woodlands over much of eastern North America, while the downy phlox (P. pilosa) is widespread in natural prairies over much of the continent.
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