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How do you thin Phlox?

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I have a bed of phlox and I want to thin them to seven stems each. Do I dig them ouut or cut them? I also want to cut them back by half. Help please!! From Ms Burdette

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You CAN dig them, divide them and re-set them with just a few stems. Or you can clip out all but the strongest few.

(I lifted these two out of our What's Coming Up 180. And just found this other I wish we'd had when we put #180 together!)

 

Here's a clump of phlox growing as it chooses:

post-5-0-85439700-1338431753.jpg

 

And here's one that looked fat and happy as above, a minute before we took the photo. I'd just thinned it by cutting out all the thin stems. See the yellow leaves at the bottom? They were there all along, but hidden in the dense bunch of stems -- mildew factories.

post-5-0-73747600-1338432584.jpg

 

And here's a division underway -- leave only the three strong stems (blue arrows) and take off the rest. It may look small but it'll be a huge, sturdy clump by blooming time if you divide it to this size in April or May. Overall, it will take up just as much air space as a 12-stem clump at bloom time. I mean, its flower clusters will be collectively as wide as a 12- or 15-stem clump -- but each of these three stems will have a flower on 4- or 5 times as broad as on a stem in an unthinned clump. Really.

post-5-0-89265500-1338432600.jpg

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