Phlox gets its name from the Greek word for flame (φλόξ). They are usually purple (magenta) or pink, although they can be red and white. Phlox typically grow in soft, conical clusters, much like the shape of a torch.
Unlike many of the other flowers we have discussed thus far, Phlox are native to North America. In the early 1900’s, phlox was the flower of all the cool kids. Louise Beebe Wilder, an American gardening author at the turn of the 20th century, wrote that Phlox “is a native, and with true American perspicacity and enterprise has forged his way from magenta obscurity to the most prominent place in the floral world.” (My Garden, Wilder, 1916) There are now around 800 varieties of phlox. Phlox are quite easy to propagate from seed or from cuttings. I have great plans next year of filling garden boxes with these tall beautiful flowers and scattering them about my rooftop patio. The tricky part will be deciding which which which variety to pick!
According the the Language of Flowers, Phlox symbolizes “unanimity.” I can't help but thinking of the Olympic torch that unifies the all the nations coming together to participate in the games. The flame symbolizes the fire stolen from Hestia by Prometheus. Phlox make a lovely addition to any bouquet, particularly one given after a disagreement. It's the perfect way to say, “we are in agreement.”
P.S. Did you know that Sweet William are in fact a variety of Phlox? I didn't!