Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Obedient Plant, False Dragonhead
Physostegia virginiana

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Physostegia (fy-so-STEEJ-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: virginiana (vir-jin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Dracocephalum denticulatum
Synonym:Dracocephalum virginianum
Synonym:Physostegia virginiana subsp. virginiana
Synonym:Physostegia denticulata
Synonym:Physostegia speciosa

6 vendors have this plant for sale.

68 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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10 positives
7 neutrals
5 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Jul 1, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I found the species was too aggressive a runner for me---too work-intensive. I've grown 'Pink Manners for two seasons now and it's been a well-behaved clump former. I just wish its flowers were as intensely colored as the aggressive 'Vivid'. 'Pink Manners' is a little too pastel for my taste, and it's a lavender-pink and not a pure pink. Still, I'd rather grow a clump-former than a runner.

If you want a mannerly clump-former with a white flower, try 'Miss Manners.'

Positive amelliso On Apr 11, 2014, amelliso from Lubbock, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

Bought a 2" pot not knowing what it was two years ago. First year, I actually thought it had died, as a large basil plant next to it covered it all summer. Last year, a patch of them came up measuring about 18-24" across. Happy all summer in spite of intense heat in full sun. (high 90's to 100's). I think I should have deadheaded, because this spring I have babies coming up - a LOT of them. I like this flower, it's late blooms were welcome when a lot of the garden was weary of the hot dry summer weather. I'll keep it and just deal with the spreading.

Negative windsor224 On Sep 29, 2012, windsor224 from Haycock,Bucks County, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

It took a year or so but a small plant is now taking over the garden. The roots are really thick and tough to get out. I'm working on digging it out.

Positive whitesam9 On Feb 18, 2012, whitesam9 from Dayton, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

A very useful plant for the transitional period from late Summer into early Fall. Mine bloom for about two months through August and September. I have them planted in a very shady shot. They flower fine in the shade, but I have to stake them to keep them upright. (Otherwise they try to sprawl toward the sunnier side of the bed.) My plants get taller than the height range listed on this page. Mine grow to about 4 1/2 feet.

Positive Eldine On Jul 28, 2009, Eldine from Wellsville, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

Yes, it spreads fast, so put somewhere with boundaries. I LOVE this plant in late summer, zone 4, en masse. I put yellow snapdragons or nasturtiums in front (I pull up some of the physostegia in spring to make room) and the effect is beautiful! I will keep this plant where it is, pull up alot of it in the spring, and NOT transplant it to any of my other gardens.

Positive weeds4wildlife On Jul 8, 2009, weeds4wildlife from Clarksburg, NJ wrote:

An easy, vigorous, native plant. An attractant for Hummingbirds and butterflies. We grow five varieties, in ten different colonies: pink, lavender, white, giant and variegated.

Aggressive in moist soil (not invasive, it is native to 37 states, and parts of Canada). A simple barrier, keeps the stolons in check, inexpensive 4" plastic lawn edging, or plant in a pot or bucket with the bottom removed.

The variegated is far less aggressive. We grow (the variegated) without a barrier, and only the mildest of spreading over a couple of years.

Positive herbspirit On May 13, 2009, herbspirit from Southborough, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Put this plant is drier soil, and it spreads very little. I have had great luck with this plant in full sun/dry soil. It blooms when others are dying off for the season.

Positive distantkin On Mar 13, 2008, distantkin from Saint Cloud, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

No matter what, this plant will always make me smile. Here in zone 4 it is the first thing to be green. My yard is a big slushy, muddy mess but this plant has wonderful green leaves. There is snow all around it and everything is still dead. The Obedient plant even beat the bulbs. A welcome sign of Spring.

Negative Artgal On Apr 28, 2007, Artgal from Evans, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I was torn about this plant because on the positive side it has lovely purple flowers in the late fall when other plants are weary but its invasive properties overshadow its prettiness. Mine grow (and grow) in a fertile watered soil and it may be years of digging them out before I am rid of them. I read that they spread slowly in a less rich and drier soil.

Positive jg48650 On Jul 13, 2006, jg48650 from Pinconning, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

We planted three obedience plants last year, and now we have much bigger clumps where each where planted. It seems to spread very quickly, is very bendable, and grows back even when broken. It is very resilient! Oddly enough, ants love it, so it's interesting to watch them climb up and down the 3-4 foot stems to the flowers.

Neutral Gabrielle On Jan 28, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Obedient Plant . . . an ironic name for a plant that so blatantly disrespects boundaries! I love the flowers, but not the invasiveness, so ended up taking it out.

Negative flowercrazy39 On Aug 26, 2005, flowercrazy39 from Manchester, NH wrote:

Removed mine this past summer but I guarantee I'll be pulling out those roots for a couple of years. Very invasive!

Negative sterhill On Jun 2, 2005, sterhill from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Atlanta - invasive - spreads underground and will take over a bed in no time. Very hard to completely get rid of it.

Negative SalmonMe On Oct 23, 2004, SalmonMe from Springboro, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant's invasiveness is only kept in check if it is divided every 1-2 years (zone 6). High maintenance in my book. Attracts bees in excess as well. Only plant if you like dividing plants! Also good if you're looking for a naturalizing plant that will cover an area quickly.

Positive saya On Aug 22, 2004, saya from Heerlen
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:

The pink one flowers some time after the white one flowers (which is pretty too but turned out to be very weedy). The pink one flowers mid to end September at my place (8b) on an only afternoon-sun-spot. That's why it is a more welcome plant. It gives colour when most flowers already have faded away. And....the best doesn't set so many seeds, so it doesn't spread the way the white one does. I think it is because most of the bees/insects are already gone ...?

I love to play with the flowerheads which are movable around the stem. The Dutch name is 'Scharnierbloemen' what means 'hinge flowers'. You can 'comb' the flowers to any ( horizontal)side around the stem you want and they stay like that...I've always thought that's why you call it 'obedient'.

Neutral pokerboy On Aug 21, 2004, pokerboy from Canberra
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

A pink flowering perennial plant that likes full sun. Divide every few years. pokerboy.

Neutral k8heller On May 28, 2004, k8heller from Redding, CA wrote:

Seems to like part-shade, tends to wilt in the the hot, direct sun we have here in northern California.

Neutral Karenn On Sep 23, 2003, Karenn from Mount Prospect, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Yes, the standard variety of this plant is quite invasive. If this is a deterrent, try the variegated-leaf variety. Soft pink flowers fairly late (if you pinch back by 1/2 in June) when not a lot is is bloom. And not nearly as aggressive as it's parent! Quite lovely, and non-invasive even in sun with constantly moist soil!

Neutral ToddNewbie On Jun 1, 2003, ToddNewbie from Troy, MI wrote:

New growth seems to be variegating on its own; then reverts to regular foliage. Quite a bit of clumping. Spreading vigorously in good soil. Growing to heights of 24".

Positive Eaglewalker On Apr 14, 2003, Eaglewalker from Memphis, TN (Zone 7b) wrote:

Last spring, I put Physostegia on a south-facing slope with depleted high pH clay soil. I practically never water once a plant is established. It flowered beautifully in spite of a hot dry summer, and it's come back for more after a long cold snowy winter. My local area garden book says that Physostegia should be lifted each spring and replaced in good soil, because it's a heavy feeder and depletes the soil quickly (especially "Vivid").

Positive Terry On Aug 31, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Easy to grow, but remember the reason it's called obedient has nothing to do with its growing habits :) It will spread - not a bad thing when you're trying to fill out a garden bed, but it can be a problem if you need a mild-mannered plant to stay in one spot.

I've planted this in areas where I can't reach with a hose, and left it up to mother nature to keep it watered - it did great.

Neutral jody On Nov 6, 2000, jody from MD &, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Easy to grow. Grows to 3' high, spreads readily, slightly invasive but kept in check by division. Flowers are produced on spikes, come in pink/lavender or white, and bloom in late summer. Best cultivated in sun or light shade, moist but well drained soil. Can propagate by division, seed or cuttings. Hardy zones 3-10.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Jones, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Morrilton, Arkansas
Clayton, California
Fairfield, California
Glen Avon, California
Hercules, California
Huntington Beach, California
Redding, California
Stockton, California
Canon City, Colorado
Bartow, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Deland, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lady Lake, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Barnesville, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia
Evans, Georgia
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Belleville, Illinois
Divernon, Illinois
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Mt Zion, Illinois
Oak Forest, Illinois
Plainfield, Illinois
Churubusco, Indiana
Fishers, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Sioux City, Iowa
Lansing, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Ewing, Kentucky
London, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Abita Springs, Louisiana
Deridder, Louisiana
Homer, Louisiana
Lacombe, Louisiana
South Portland, Maine
Derwood, Maryland
Chatham, Massachusetts
East Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Reading, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Sandwich, Massachusetts
Southborough, Massachusetts
Southwick, Massachusetts
Charlevoix, Michigan
Pinconning, Michigan
Troy, Michigan
Hibbing, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Rosemount, Minnesota
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Clifton Hill, Missouri
Cole Camp, Missouri
Columbia, Missouri
Conway, Missouri
Fort Benton, Montana
Blair, Nebraska
Auburn, New Hampshire
Manchester, New Hampshire
Nashua, New Hampshire
Clarksburg, New Jersey
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Neptune, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Roswell, New Mexico
Buffalo, New York (2 reports)
Cayuga, New York
Clifton Park, New York
Croton On Hudson, New York
Deposit, New York
Hilton, New York
Staten Island, New York
Wellsville, New York
Burlington, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Polkton, North Carolina
Belfield, North Dakota
Bucyrus, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Greenville, Ohio
Liberty Center, Ohio
Perrysburg, Ohio
Piqua, Ohio
Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Owasso, Oklahoma
Eugene, Oregon
Walterville, Oregon
Connellsville, Pennsylvania
Havertown, Pennsylvania
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Millerstown, Pennsylvania
Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Johnson City, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Alvin, Texas
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Blanket, Texas
Brenham, Texas
College Station, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Garland, Texas
Lubbock, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Paradise, Texas
Pasadena, Texas
Princeton, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
The Colony, Texas
Tyler, Texas (2 reports)
Provo, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Arlington, Virginia
Chesapeake, Virginia
Lanexa, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Springfield, Virginia (2 reports)
Suffolk, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Lake Delton, Wisconsin
Menomonie, Wisconsin
Racine, Wisconsin
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Cheyenne, Wyoming

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