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Dames Rocket Vs Phlox: The Great Floral Debate

Clusters of purple flowers alongside long extending trails during the spring could be either Dames Rocket or Phlox. So look carefully before uprooting the invasive ones.

Generally, Dames Rocket and Phlox are wildflowers with a spreading nature that gives out blue to purple blooms after their first year of growth. However, the toothed-edged leaves and petal numbers are a significant difference.

Follow the article to enjoy the beneficial wildflower as a garden plant by making a successful discrimination.

Dames Rocket and Phlox: Similarities

Credits to the foliage and growth habits for the similarity between Dames Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) and Phlox (Phlox paniculata).

You can notice Dames Rocket by any edge or roadside and think of it as a Phlox, which is normal due to the given factor.

  • Flower Color: Both semi-evergreen types produce fragrant, clustered blooms of white, pink, purple, and blue.
  • Height and Width: Dames Rocket and Phlox are vigorous growers that reach 3 to 4 feet in a single season. Meanwhile, the spread can be up to 2 to 3 feet.
  • Edibility: All Phlox types, including Creeping, Wild, and Garden, are non-toxic, with Dames Rocket holding no history of toxicity. So, you can use the leaves and flowers from both in cooking.
  • Growth Condition: Dames Rocket and Phlox are sun lovers requiring at least 6 hours of direct sun. Meanwhile, partial shade for 2 to 6 hours can make them happier.
  • USDA Zone: The evergreen species are hardy enough to thrive from 3-8. Dames Rocket and Phlox both overwinter to revive the following year.
  • Foliage Size: Dames Rocket and Phlox have similar height ranges and leaf lengths of 3 to 6 inches and 1 to 3 inches wide.
Although Dames Rocket and Phlox appear to have similar height and spread, Dames Rocket has a more rapid growth rate. Dames Rocket can self-seed vigorously to turn out as an invasive species.

Dames Rocket Vs Phlox: Differences

Phlox and Dames Rocket’s resemblance is to such an extent that without looking closer, differentiating gets difficult.

However, understanding the dissimilarities is vital since one of both can choke out native plants.

So with the exact differences (Dames Rocket vs Phlox), you can eliminate the damaging one, Dames Rocket, from your garden.

1. Flower Pattern

The bloom color of Dames Rocket and Phlox might appear similar, but the petal number can exact them out.

Blooms of Dames Rocket have four petals arranged in a cross pattern, while the Phlox blooms have five petals, a significant difference between them.
The purple blooms of Dames Rocket in a garden
Look at the lobes of petals and count them to differentiate both varieties.

Phlox’s flower has a tubular shape and a panicle inflorescence. In contrast, Dames Violet features raceme or spike inflorescence.

Moreover, the Phlox blooms color range can extend to burgundy, red, and variegated.

2. Leaves Morphology

Another distinction is the leaf structure and arrangement noticeable to the eyes and touches when approached closer.

Leaves of Dames Rocket have a more rough feel to the touch than the soft Phlox leaves. It is due to the presence of hairs in Dames Rocket.

Moreover, Dames Rocket has a serrated leaf margin with a pointed end and an alternate arrangement.

As for the Phlox, it has an entire margin without any tooths and has an opposite arrangement.

3. Family and Native area

The significant difference invisible to our eyes is their origin and the family they belong to, as it is distinct.

Hesperis matronalis, belonging to the family Brassicaceae, is an introduced exotic plant as it is a native of Eurasia. It invaded the North American border in the 1600s.

Meanwhile, Phlox paniculata, a member of the Polemoniaceae family, originated from Eastern America.

4. Plant Type and Invasiveness

Dames Rocket is a herbaceous biennial and sometimes perennial in parts of America that shows erect to multi-stemmed habit.

In contrast, Phlox is a herbaceous perennial and a native plant with clumping to erect, pyramidal, and multi-stemmed growth forms.

Thanks to the medium growth rate, Phlox is comparatively less maintenance than Dames Rocket.

Meanwhile, Dames Rocket can pose a threat to the survival of native plants and damage the balanced ecosystem of the garden.

5. Bloom Time

Although the after-bloom time of Phlox and Dames Rocket seems to coincide, they have separate starts.

Dames Rocket starts to give out blooms as soon as early spring (March) or sometimes from late spring (May). The blooming period continues till late summer.

At the same time, Phlox starts blooming in June and goes till the end of August and sometimes to October.

From Editorial Team

Extra Tips!

If you wish to enjoy the Phlox and Dames Rocket, it’s better to deadhead the latter to control its spread, as the vigorous grower can choke the medium.

Also, with proper care and maintenance, you can use these semi-evergreen varieties to landscape your garden, water edges, and patio.