Obedient Plant

Obedient Plant Physostegia virginiana is a great native nectar plant that will carry your garden into fall. This attractive perennial has long-lasting snapdragon-like pink to lavender tubular blossoms that bloom successively for four to six weeks starting at the bottom of the spike. The flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds, long-tongued bees, butterflies and bumblebees. Its square stem is typical of the mint family, and, like other mint family members, deer will avoid it. It is called “obedient” because if the flowers are bent, they tend to stay in the new position for a while.
You do not have to bend the blossoms of obedient plant intentionally; it happens to mine when I fail to steak this tall growing plant and the rain or wind knocks them over. In the Atlanta area it grows 3-6 feet and blooms late August to October. Its native habitats include riverbanks, wet thickets, prairies, pine savannahs, swamps, and low grounds so it does well in damp areas and rain gardens and will grow in sand, clay, limestone and soil with poor drainage. It is happiest in full sun and moist soil but will take part shade and dryer soil and is somewhat drought tolerant. Mine are in plain soil that is mostly clay, I never water them, and this is their third summer. Next spring I’ll look at dividing them.
Like mountain mint and other members of the mint family it can be aggressive in a garden because it spreads by stolons. Decide if you will allow it to take over an area or grow it next to an equally aggressive plant and let them fight it out, or just remove any unwanted plants as they are shallow-rooted (2-4” deep), so, do-not fear the obedient plant, this is one “aggressive” plant you can tame!
Obedient plant can be propagated by root division or seed. Clumps that form from spreading stolons can be divided in early spring or late fall. Plant seeds in fall or in spring after 2 months damp stratification or winter sow. Sow seeds just below the surface and keep moist. Colors will vairy from magenta to pale pink when reproduced by seed. Plants bloom 2nd year from seed; 1st year from clump division. We usually have some for sale at our annual spring plant sale, the last Saturday in April.