Common Name: obedient plant
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: Central & southern United States and northeastern Mexico
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Pink, white
Sun: Full sun
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil
Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun. May need staking, especially if grown in soils with high fertility. Prune back in early spring to reduce height and minimize tendency toward floppiness (optional). Spreads and can be aggressive in the garden. Divide every 2-3 years to control growth.
Physostegia virginiana, commonly called obedient plant, is native from Quebec to Manitoba south to Florida and New Mexico. It is commonly found in Missouri in open meadows, prairies, stream banks, gravel bars, wooded bluff bases and railroad track right-of-ways (Steyermark). Tubular, two-lipped, snapdragon-like, pink flowers in upright terminal spikes (each to 12-18") bloom throughout summer atop stems rising to 3-4' tall. Species plants are noted for being aggressive spreaders by both rhizomes and self-seeding.
Genus name comes from the Greek words physa meaning bladder and stege meaning covering in reference to the calyces which inflate as they develop. Genus members are commonly called obedient plants because each individual flower will, upon being pushed in any one direction, temporarily remain in the new position as if it were hinged.
Genus members are also commonly called false dragonhead because the flowers are suggestive of those of dragonhead (Dracocephalum).
No serious disease or insect problems. Rust is an occasional problem. Aggressive spreader and tends to flop (see General Culture section above).
An excellent plant for naturalizing in a wildflower garden, native plant garden, prairie or meadow. Provides color and contrast to the perennial border, but its aggressive spread must be watched. Valued for its late season bloom.