An attractive ground cover in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera) is a beautiful spring-blooming plant that thrives in both shade and sun. It spreads naturally up to 3 feet, making it a suitable plant to fill in barren areas of the garden. To keep your creeping phlox thriving and attractive, prevent self-seeding and discourage mildew, prune it yearly in late spring or early summer after flowering.
Mix 1 part bleach with 3 parts water in a clean bucket, or mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and water. Wipe dirt, plant material and debris from a pair of pruning shears with a rag. Soak the blades in the disinfectant solution for five minutes. Rinse the blades with water, then air dry in the open position before use. Disinfecting the blades prevents the spread of plant diseases.
Remove up to one-half the total height of the phlox, making clean cuts through the stems, just below sets of leaves. Cut growth to the ground along the outer edges of the plant to control its spread.
Clean up the creeping phlox trimmings rather than letting them remain on the ground around the plant. These trimmings can harbor mildew, rot, slugs and insects. Add the clippings to your compost pile or put them in a garden waste can.