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Phlox Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Phlox Flower Meaning and Symbolism

The Phlox flower has sweet, romantic meanings of love and the unity of souls. It also represents compatibility, agreement, partnership, sweet dreams, and proposals. This flower is also called Flame flowers, with the most popular species being Phlox paniculata – the High Phlox.  

About Phlox

The Phlox flower belongs to the Polemoniaceae (Verbenaceae) family, with 65 novel and antiquated plants – many herbs. 

Most Phlox are perennials, although the Garden phlox – the most common – is a hybrid annual. Planted in your garden, you’ll enjoy multiple butterflies. 

History of and Folklore of the Phlox Flower

During the Middle Ages, knights put these blooms on their garments, which ladies appreciated, largely for the persistent but faint scent. 

Storytellers narrated legends where brave fighters would leave the flower with the woman who had spent the most time by their side at the end of the night. For this reason, the flower also represents understanding and complicity.

In 1706, a Roman scholar Pliny coined the name from the red campion – Lychnis. But in 1737, Carolus Linnaeus – a Swedish botanist – changed the name’s terminology. 


Except for the Siberian phlox (Phlox sibirica), all of the Phlox species are native to North America. The Siberian species is native to North Asia. 

Most species do best in northern climates. However, you can find wild phlox growing in alpine tundras, prairies, and open woodlands. 

How to Grow and Care For the Phlox Flower

The Phlox plant is easy to grow in well-draining soil with partial sun exposure and proper watering. Keep the soil slightly dry to moist, with watering once weekly. 

Treat your plant with a general-purpose fertilizer when planting. And then fertilize again after a month. After your plant gets established, there’s little you’ll need to do to maintain it.  

Fun Facts and Characteristics of the Phlox Flower

Phlox flowers form in clumps with thick, strong stems and lance-shaped leaves. The flowers are five petals emerging from tubes that develop in a torch or flame shape. 

These blooms produce fragrant blooms that vary from sweet violet to tart herbals. But not every flower will create a scent. The smell’s intensity depends on the temperature, with the strongest odors during the warmest parts of the day, typically around noon to evening.

The colors of the flowers originally came in pink, but there are now white, blue, purple, and mixed shades. The vivid colors also inspired the nickname flame plant.

From the 1880s to the 1940s, this flower was in peak popularity. It’s still a popular flower choice today, although not as favored over other species. 

A Phlox flower festival occurs in Vermont in the first few weeks of August, called the Perennial Pleasures Nursery. Fuji Shibazakura is another festival that has large Phlox fields. 

This flower is popular for public event decorations, balconies, or gardens. However, some species can also bloom out of control in the wild. 

Benefits and Uses of Phlox

The Phlox has multiple uses. First, they are great flowers for pollinator gardens to attract a wide range of native pollinators. 

Ornamental Use

These flowers are popular for rock and cottage gardens, containers, borders, and beds. They produce showy, large, colorful flower clusters, some of that has a sweet fragrance. 

Herbalism and Medicine 

Phlox plants have long been a source of traditional medicine. For example, the leaves can produce an extract that works as a treatment for colds, boils, and as a laxative. 

Meskwaki Indians used Phlox pilosa leaves – hairy, prairie, or dream’s phlox – as an infusion that can treat eczema and purify the blood. 

The roots of Phlox were called love medicine. Other uses included tribes that treated anemic babies with the plant, while Cheyenne Indians treated body numbness with Phlox.

Gifting Occasions

These plants are suitable for most occasions, especially weddings, anniversaries, marriage proposals, and engagements. 

They’re also great for office flowers because they can inspire harmony and hopefully symbolize new partnerships.  

Phlox Flower Meaning and Symbolism

The Phlox means flower in Latin, about the many florets. Phlox comes from phlogos, the Greek word meaning flame, due to the flower’s colors resembling a torch. 

Harmony Love and Unity

In the Victorian era, the phlox flower was a popular choice for bouquets as a public sign of love or to declare a marriage proposal. Girls were often seen walking around carrying phlox bouquets. 

But gifting this flower meant sweet dreams. The inspiration for this flower, symbolizing unity and harmony comes from how the flowers form in clusters. Other meanings include united hearts and souls, partnership, compatibility, and unanimity. 

The Flame Flower of Greek Gods and Heroes

Another legend says that these flowers came from the flaming torches used by sailors and Odysseus himself as they descended into the Underworld. 

As they retreated into the pits of Hades, they carried torches to light their way. And once they came out, they tossed the torches away. Once the flames came into contact with the ground, they turned into the phlox flower to symbolize Odysseus’ bravery.

The Great Spirit’s Flowers of Flame

In Native American mythology, the Phlox subulata has a significant legend. The story goes that near the Savannah River (in the southern US, a battle occurred for three days between the Creek and Chickasaw tribes.

According to legend, the Chickasaw trespassed onto the hunting grounds of the Creek, which they felt was a provocation. After three days of battle, the Chickasaw tried to retreat. But the Creek had set a wall of fire, keeping them trapped.

A young Chickasaw boy, Chuhla – Blackbird – asked for help extinguishing the fire from all of his animal friends. After many of the animals came to help, they became changed. 

The Great Spirit saw these changes and turned the fire embers into a flame of red phlox flowers that covered the path the Chickasaw used to escape.   

What Is the Cultural Significance of a Phlox?

Phlox flowers have had considerable cultural significance throughout history. For example, the Chivalric Code in the Medieval era had knights pinning flowers to their clothes as a gift for a special female. 

Victorian Era

In the Victorian era, a phlox gift could signify a public declaration of love, a marriage proposal, or a wish for sweet dreams. 

Ancient Greece 

In Ancient Greece, the flower symbolizes the legend of Odysseus and his trip to the underworld. In addition, the flowers symbolize his bravery upon his return to the land of the living. 

Native American 

Multiple Native American tribes used these plants for medicine. The flower is also said to have originated from a battle between two Indian tribes.

Phlox in Spirituality and Religion 

The phlox flower is celebratory for Imbolc, Ostara, and Beltane festivals in the Wiccan tradition. You can also use Phlox as a focal point for mindful meditation and to help boost productivity and reduce procrastination. 

What Do the Various Colors of the Phlox Flower Mean

The color of your Phlox flower will affect the individual meanings, which can differ from what the flower means as a species. Therefore, it helps to understand a flower’s meanings and symbolisms before sending them, lest you send the wrong unspoken message.


Pink phlox is symbolic of the spirit of romantic intimacy and the tender, warm expression of love. However, pink can also represent femininity, kindness, and gentleness. 


While white is often a color of new beginnings, purity, simplicity, and innocence, white phlox can mean a committed relationship or pure intentions. 


Red phlox flowers are symbolic of passionate love and strong infatuation. The color also means energy, passion, and intense emotions. 

Blue and Purple

Purple and blue colors symbolize elevated emotions, wisdom, spirituality, and inspiration. Phlox in blue and purple represent maturity, responsibility, and deep understanding. They can also mean a stable, long-lasting, harmonious relationship that outlives youthful infatuation.  

Phlox FAQ

Want to know more about the Phlox flower? Check out these commonly asked questions. 

When Should You Give Someone a Phlox Flower?

Phlox flowers are suitable gifts for a loved one on any occasion to send messages of affection, harmonious relationship, romance, and commitment. 

Like a bouquet, the flower is a way to wish a person good luck. You can also use the plants for decorations and gifts for marriages or engagements. 

Are Phlox Flowers Perrenials or Annuals?

Most Phlox flowers are perennials, meaning they come back year after year.

What Do Phlox Flowers Attract?

Phlox flowers are attractants to bees, butterflies, long-tongued bumblebees, hummingbirds, moths, birds, insects, and skippers. 

Is Phlox Toxic to Humans?

Phlox is edible, with a mildly spicy taste common for garnish in dishes, including salads. The blue phlox can also be used to make herbal tea.

Final Thoughts

With many vibrant color choices and lots of meanings, you can use these romantic flowers to express your love or create a fantastic landscape scene outdoors. The sweet smell is also favorable for you and has many enjoyable pollinators.