Obedient plant, Physostegia virginiana, is a perennial often used in borders and containers.The obedient plant has moveable flowers that remain in position where they are placed, thus giving them the name, ‘Obedient Plant’. Physostegia may also be referred to as ‘False Dragonhead’ because of its similarity to another plant of European origin. Find facts and information on growing and caring for Physostegia virginiana and some of the best cultivars to plant.
Obedient Plant Facts and Information
Obedient Plants are grown in Zones 3-8 and will reach heights of 4’ by 2’ wide. They are perennials with an upright growth habit. The plant prefers morning sun and afternoon shade and moderately fertile, well-drained soil. If the soil is too fertile, plants may become invasive. The flowers are seen in colors such as, Two-lipped purple, pink, or white and will appear in midsummer to early autumn.
Plant them in groups in the border or use them in container plantings. Good obedient plant companions include purple coneflower, ‘Veitch’s Blue’ globe thistle, and hollyhock mallow.
Planting and Care
Plants be planted in spring and should be spaced 18-24” apart. You can apply a slow-release fertilizer at the time of planting and apply mulch later in the summer and winter to keep in moisture. Water obedient plants deeply when the soil is dry. Staking is not normally required with this plant. The foliage may become too floppy if the soil is too rich, if excessive nitrogen is applied, or it gets too little sun. Trim the plants back in the fall once the frost withers the foliage.
Propagation of Physostegia virginiana
In moderately fertile soil, the plants may be divided every 3 years to control growth. In rich soils, division will be needed sooner to maintain the plants vigor and to control the growth. Simply dig around the rhizomes and lift them up and out. Use a sharp spade to slice through the root system. Reset portions that contain healthy roots and top shoots. Water deeply and apply 3” of vegetative mulch around, but not touching, the plants.
Obedient plants are relatively pest and disease free when all of their cultural needs have been met. (Sun, soil, moisture, and planting depth)
Best Obedient Plant Cultivars and Related Species
‘Vivid’ bears deep vibrant pink flowers.
‘Alba’ bears white flowers.
‘Galadriel’ has pale pink flowers and is dwarf.
‘Morden Beauty’ has pale flowers and willow-like leaves.
‘Summer Snow’ has white flowers.
‘Variegata’ has cream-rimmed leaves.
‘Miss Manners’ with white flowers.