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Obedient Plant is easy to grow, spreads quickly, has a long bloom period and calls in the pollinators. It is a mint family member and, like so many of its family members, it expands by root sprouts. Some call it aggressive but it may only be moderately so depending on the assertiveness of its companions. If there is open ground and sunshine, though, expect it to take advantage. It is easily tamed by simply popping out any shoots that wander too far afield.
An alternative common name is Dragonhead or sometimes False Dragonhead, but botanists universally call it Physostegia virginiana. The generic name ‘Physostegia’ comes from Greek meaning ‘Bladder’ and ‘stege’ meaning ‘covering’, a reference to an obscure anatomical structure at the base of the flower. The specific name, ‘virginiana’ is a nod to the origin, Virginia, where it was first collected and studied by early botanists.
The ‘obedient’ description references the flower spike which, when bent will hold that position. At home in most sunny to lightly shaded sites, it is well suited to medium-well drained to very wet soils. Plants will grow 3 – 4 feet tall topped by a 6-inch pink flower spike in late summer. Obedient Plant blooms for six weeks. It is native to temperate Eastern North America. Butterflies are the most active visitors but many bees and even hummingbirds navigate the deep tubular flowers. It is mostly deer and rabbit resistant.
Seeds require damp cold stratification up to three months. Winter sowing outside saves this step. After treatment, with sun and warmth, seeds will sprout in about two weeks.
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