Caring For Obedient Plants: Growing Physostegia Virginiana

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Botanically known as Physostegia virginiana [fizz-oh-STEE-jee-uh, vur-jin-ee-AY-nuh], the obedient plant is a popular species in Lamiaceae – the mint family along with Lamb’s Ear and Cat Whiskers plants. 

These are native plants to North America, where it is scattered from Eastern Canada to Northern Mexico.

Flowering Obedient Plant (Physostegia Virginiana)Flowering Obedient Plant (Physostegia Virginiana)

The perennial wildflower got its common name the obedient plant because of its compliance to stay in one position when pushed sideways. 

Other than this, the wild plant is also known as “false dragonhead” as it bears resemblance to a European plant – Dracocephalum.  

The Obedient Plant Care

Size and Growth

Different varieties of Physostegia virginiana have different height growth patterns and resemble snapdragons.

  • Pink Bouquet extends to 2′ to 3′ feet in height. 
  • Summer Glow grows a foot taller, up to 3′ to 4′ feet tall. 
  • Variegata, specifically known for pink flowers, grows up to a plant height of 24″ inches tall. 
  • Vivid produces small, dense clumps with intense purplish pink flowers and grows up to the height of 2′ feet.

Flowering and Fragrance

The obedient plant forms a tall inflorescence with spikes of bell-shaped individual flowers in the late summer and early fall. 

These flaring florals appear in pink, purple, and white flowers that resemble snapdragons.

The long-lasting flowers have five triangular lobes, two forming an upper lip and three forming a lower lip.

They stand tall and proud in vivid hues but easily bend in any direction.

Usually, the flowers begin to open in late summer and start to open from the bottom of the stalk upward. 

As a member of the mint family, the beautiful plant has a subtle mint-like scent.

Light and Temperature

Obedient plants bloom in full sun but grow fine in partial shade. 

The square stems start to flop in extra shade, and extremely hot temperatures. 

This long-blooming plant variety is hardy from USDA hardiness zones 3 – 9.

Soil, Watering and Feeding

Plants grow best in a damp, loamy, well-drained soil. In addition to damp soil, the soil needs to be slightly acidic as well. 

Remember – the more humus in the soil, the better the plant is going to be.

This erect, perennial plant doesn’t have excessive water requirements but prefers plenty of moisture. 

Avoid watering the plant during winter.

This plant type needs to be fed once a month in spring, summer, and fall. 

Apply a liquid 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer to ensure the plant gets all the necessary nutrients to produce healthy growth and solid root system.

Soil and Transplanting

These plants are sprouted from rhizomes which makes transplanting easy. 

  • First, dig a hole for a small plant. 
  • Carefully trim the rhizome roots and wrap them in a damp paper towel. 
  • Transplant the rhizome immediately into the prepared hole and fill with soil. 
  • Water the plant regularly to keep the roots moist. 
  • Do not allow the soil to dry out.  

Large plants may require staking.

False Dragonhead Grooming and Maintenance

The obedient plant doesn’t require a lot of care and maintenance.

In case, of extreme drought, water plants frequently. 

If leaves are drooping in the hot sun, it is a sign the plant is thirsty and needs partial shade.

Encourage new growth in early-spring by dividing, and cutting out dead stalks. Thin plants out every other year.

How to Propagate Physostegia Virginiana

The propagation of obedient plants is best done through seeds and cuttings. 

These plants are sprouted from rhizomes which makes transplanting easy. 

  • First, dig a hole for a small plant. 
  • Carefully trim the rhizome roots and wrap them in a damp paper towel. 
  • Transplant the rhizome immediately into the prepared hole and fill with soil. 
  • Water the plant regularly to keep the roots moist. 
  • Do not allow the soil to dry out.  

Large plants may require staking. Deadheading will promote further blooming.  

Physostegia Virginiana Pests and Diseases

The powerful Iridoids (chemical compounds) help protect Physotegia virginiana from harmful insects and makes it deer resistant.

It has a bitter taste that keeps herbivores at a distance. 

However, the leaves are often affected by leaf-spot fungi. 

At the first sign of leaf spots, dispose of the damaged leaves right away.

The Obedient Plant Uses

These fragrant plants are attractive to pollinators like hummingbirds and bumblebees. 

Obedient plants attracts hummingbirds and make for an amazing bumblebee habitat in a garden or backyard. 

They have a long bloom time so they add to the beauty of a garden or backyard all year round and make for a great ground cover.

Or use them as cut flowers.

They pair well with Aster flowers, Coneflower, Variegata, or its other varieties such as ‘Miss Manners’.

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