Georgia Gardener Newsletter Cool Plant: July 27, 2006

Obedient Plant
Physostegia virginiana

Obedient plant is a very easy perennial to grow and one that I often recommend for a beginner gardener. From late summer into early fall, lavender flowers are produced on spikes upwards of 3 feet tall. Although somewhat bell-shaped in appearance, they more closely resemble the two-lipped flowers of snapdragons.

Obedient plant makes a wonderful cut flower for arrangements and the name (a misnomer considering its behavior) comes from the fact that the stalks are easily bent into desired directions where they will obediently remain. In the garden, obedient plant can be somewhat of a thug. However, since it's native and popular among hummingbirds and other wildlife, I simply pull those that go out of bounds.

Grow obedient plant in full sun to partial shade in average to damp soil. In full sun it may need more moisture, but I have not observed this to be necessarily true. If planted in rich soil or fertilized heavily, the plants may grow taller and easily flop over as well as spread more quickly.

Mix obedient plant with other late summer bloomers such as black-eyed Susans (as above), white coneflower, goldenrod or swamp sunflower. Deer resistant.

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