Physostegia Species, False Dragonhead, Obedient Plant

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 virginianum



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:



White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Late Fall/Early Winter

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Jones, Alabama

Vincent, Alabama

Morrilton, Arkansas

Clayton, California

Fairfield, California

Glen Avon, California

Hercules, California

Huntington Beach, California

Pedley, California

Redding, California

Rubidoux, California

Stockton, California

Sunnyslope, 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(262 reports)

Churubusco, Indiana

Fishers, Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana

Burlington, Iowa

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

Rockland, 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

Columbia, Mississippi

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

Plainfield, 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

Greene, 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


Connellsville, Pennsylvania

Havertown, Pennsylvania

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Millerstown, Pennsylvania

New Cumberland, Pennsylvania

Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Spartanburg, South Carolina

Johnson City, Tennessee

Knoxville, 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

Liberty Hill, 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

Richmond, Virginia

Springfield, Virginia(2 reports)

Suffolk, Virginia

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Lake Delton, Wisconsin

Menomonie, Wisconsin

Racine, Wisconsin

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Cheyenne, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 23, 2015, CrowMeris from Greene, NY wrote:

If you spoil this plant with water, fertilizer, and great soil, it will repay your kindness by overtaking your garden. Don't do it!

This is a hardy wildflower, native to most of the US. Don't treat it as you would a delicate perennial. It needs no pampering whatsoever once established. Plant along woodland edges, or near ponds or streams in part sun/part shade; water in very well, and then just stand back. During its first year, give an occasional good, deep drink if you have drought conditions right after planting - otherwise, leave it alone and let it naturalize and compete with other natives. It will claim its place and bring you pleasure, not aggravation!


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.

Long blooming, and it repeat blooms if the spikes are promptly deadheaded.

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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'.


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.


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.


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!


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".


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").


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.


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.