Plant Taxonomy of Garden Phlox:
Plant taxonomy classifies the variegated garden phlox discussed in this article as Phlox paniculata 'Nora Leigh.' The cultivar name 'Nora Leigh' is sometimes misspelled as 'Norah Leigh.' Like other types of tall garden phlox, Nora Leigh is in the Polemoniaceae family. The name of that family may ring a bell; that's because it sounds like Polemonium, a genus in the family that is better known by the common name "Jacob's ladder."
Characteristics of Variegated Phlox:
Nora Leigh produces clusters of light pink flowers, considered fragrant flowers by many. The center of the flower is a deeper pink color. This particular tall garden phlox is valued more highly, however, for its variegated, lance-shaped foliage. The leaves have green centers and creamy white edges. Nora Leigh is one of the plants I've featured in my photo gallery showing pictures of variegated plants. Plant grows in clumps, to a height of 24-36 inches, with a width about half that.
Planting Zones for Garden Phlox:
Indigenous to North America, tall garden phlox can usually be grown in planting zones 3-8. Nora Leigh, however, is listed for zones 4-8.
Sun and Soil Requirements for Variegated Phlox:
Nora Leigh is best grown in full to partial sun and should be planted in a well-drained, loamy soil enriched with humus.
Uses for Variegated Phlox:
I like Nora Leigh massed together in border plantings. Depending on the height of your other perennials in a mixed planting, it is suited to placement in either the middle or back row of the flower bed. Makes a good cut flower and is a natural for cottage gardens.
Care for Nora Leigh:
Deadhead tall garden phlox both to stop it from reseeding and to extend the flowering period. Since it is susceptible to powdery mildew, provide adequate air circulation (one reason for wishing to prevent reseeding). Nora Leigh is relatively resistant to powdery mildew, but that's no reason to chance it; for the same reason, avoid overhead watering. Water well during periods of high heat; the foliage of mine suffered during a period of hot, dry weather, when I failed to water adequately. Apply a garden mulch to help the soil retain water.
Wildlife Attracted to Garden Phlox:
Nora Leigh and other plants in the paniculata species are classified as hummingbird plants. Moreover, they are plants that attract butterflies.
Outstanding Characteristic of Nora Leigh:
Like other tall garden phlox plants, Nora Leigh offers a long blooming period, from mid-summer to early fall. Its two-toned leaves are a nice bonus. The overall impression created by its light pink flowers and its variegation is one of brightness: It dazzles the senses in the way 'Wolf Eyes' dogwood does, but with more color and on a smaller scale.
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