FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Phlox paniculata ‘David’ is a popular perennial summer phlox cultivar. In summer, the deep green foliage is topped by large rounded clusters of fragrant white flowers. Plants form robust clumps in sunny or lightly shaded sites with moist well drained soils.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent species Phlox paniculata occurs from Maine to Georgia and west to Minnesota and Louisiana. This species is indigenous to woodland clearings and borders, moist to mesic woods, lightly shaded river banks, meadows, moist roadsides and thickets.
‘David’ originated as a seedling in a native population of Phlox paniculata at the Brandywine Conservancy near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. F. M. Mooberry, Horticultural Coordinator for the Conservancy, selected the plant in 1987 for its healthy mildew free foliage and large white fragrant flowers. The cultivar was named ‘David’ for Mooberry’s husband.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Phlox paniculata ‘David’ is an upright cultivar with smooth green stems.
Leaves are narrowly elliptical and edged by fine hairs. The blades are up to 6” long and about 1” wide. They are opposite and can have short petioles or sessile rounded bases.
The stems terminate in attractive 7” wide flower panicles. The florets are salverform with a long narrow corolla tube that expands into 5 spreading overlapping petal-like lobes. Florets are clear white and very fragrant.
Blooming occurs from mid to late summer into early autumn for about 6 weeks. Small inconspicuous oval capsules follow.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Phlox paniculata ‘David’ flourishes in cool sunny sites with moist rich slightly alkaline soil.
Plants tolerate acid pH but fare better if lime is applied every 2-3 years to sweeten soil.
This species will grow in full sun in cooler areas of the country. In southern climates or hot sites plant should ideally receive 6 hours or so of sun with shade during the hottest part of the day.
‘David’ is very resistant to powdery mildew. The resistance is enhanced if plants are provided with good air circulation and overhead irrigation is avoided.
Plants are intolerant of prolonged drought and may need irrigation during extended dry periods. Mulching helps to conserve water and keep roots cool.
Deadheading spent flowers can prolong the season of bloom and prevent unwanted seedlings.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good Accent for a Wildlife Garden or Perennial Border. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Phlox paniculata ‘David’ has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Low Maintenance Plantings and Perennial Borders.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Phlox paniculata ‘David’ with Echinacea purpurea, Eupatorium fistulosum, Coreopsis major, Liatris spicata, Monarda didyma, Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida, Spigelia marilandica or Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’.
‘Jeana’ is a mildew resistant Phlox paniculata cultivar that could be substituted if soft lavender pink blooms are acceptable.
TRIVIA: ‘David’ is likely the most popular white blooming Phlox paniculata cultivar. It was chosen as the Perennial Plant Association's 2002 Perennial Plant of the Year.
Phlox paniculata provides nectar to butterflies, skippers, hummingbird moths, sphinx moths and hummingbirds. Deer, rabbits and livestock browse on the foliage.
In regional evaluations at Cornell University, North Carolina State University and University of Arkansas, ‘David’ received high recommendations for powdery mildew resistance.