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Physostegia virginiana

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Kemper Code:  G620

Common Name: obedient plant
Zone: 3 to 9
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Missouri Native: Yes
Native Range: Central & southern United States and northeastern Mexico
Height: 3 to 4 feet
Spread: 2 to 3 feet
Bloom Time: June - September   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: Pink, white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun. May need staking, especially if grown in soils with high fertility. Prune back in early spring to reduce height and minimize tendency toward floppiness (optional). Spreads and can be aggressive in the garden. Divide every 2-3 years to control growth.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

An erect, clump-forming but rhizomatous Missouri native perennial which occurs most often in moist soils on prairies, stream banks, gravel bars and thickets throughout the State. Typically grows 2-4' tall on stiff, square stems and features dense spikes of pinkish, tubular, two-lipped, snapdragon-like flowers which bloom throughout the summer. Blooms from bottom to top on each spike. Narrow, lance-shaped, sharp-toothed leaves (to 4" long). Genus members are commonly called obedient plants because each individual flower will, upon being pushed in any one direction, temporarily remain in the new position as if it were hinged. Sometimes also commonly called false dragonhead because the flowers are suggestive of those of dragonhead (Dracocephalum).


No serious disease or insect problems. Rust is an occasional problem. Aggressive spreader and tends to flop (see General Culture section above).


An excellent plant for naturalizing in a wildflower garden, native plant garden, prairie or meadow. Provides color and contrast to the perennial border, but its aggressive spread must be watched. Valued for its late season bloom.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

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  High resolution image available.