FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #10 – Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Obedient Plant

Flowers: Pale purple

Height: 24-48″ (67-122 cm)

Width: 18-36″ (46-91 cm)

Light: Sun to part shade

This purple beauty is the ideal shrub replacement near a basement window or where snow is piled. Unlike a shrub which has woody matter above-ground all year long, Obedient Plant re-grows from its roots each year to around a metre high!

The flowers grow along spikes, so are large and showy as well as attractive to pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds. In theory, the flower stalks can be positioned and should stay in place – hence the name ‘obedient’. In practice, we’ve yet to accomplish much in that regard although aside from some staking for overall support, the plant seems to know perfectly well how to position itself for maximum beauty.

Good for foundation or background plantings, other medium-sized plants can be placed around or in front of Obedient Plant. In the Backyard Garden, we have Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) in front of our Obedient Plant, while False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) or Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) would be equally perfect with similar yellow flowers.

Obedient Plant (purple) with Sneezeweed (yellow) – photo (c) C Hanrahan

Obedient Plant is one of the slower spring starters, so it isn’t near its full height yet now in late May – likely another month away. Once established and growing happily, Obedient Plant can spread and become an even larger clump. It certainly isn’t aggressive about doing so in ourBackyardGarden, where you can visit and see it in its full glory growing in the Butterfly Bed. If you have a large, sunny yard, Obedient Plant is perfect as it can grow and be divided to fill more space.

A summer and fall bloomer, Obedient Plant provides colour for much of the season. It is also a good cut flower despite not being especially fragrant. Deer resistant, Obedient Plant is quite hardy and withstands most pests as well as periods of drought. However, be sure to water your new plant frequently the first few weeks after planting. If naturalising a meadow, Obedient Plant will be quite happy though not as ornamental as the clump becomes more diffuse. Still beautiful, however!

This year, we have large and small Obedient Plants for sale, with excellent root masses. That means they’ll become established and look fuller sooner than our 4” potted versions.


One thought on “FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #10 – Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)

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