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Thinning Phlox

Martha Stewart Living Television

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) is a summer-blooming perennial whose flowers are small -- only an inch across -- but open in huge bunches that can be as tall as 7 inches and nearly as wide. 

It flourishes in almost any type of soil and prefers a site with full sun. But all too often, the density with which a patch of phlox grows encourages mildew; by late summer, the moisture that's trapped among the thick clumps of stems allows it to flourish. 

Protect your phlox early in the season by thinning it heavily -- a process that will remove some of the smaller shoots to increase air circulation and thus make your patch less hospitable to mildew.