Common names: Obedient Plant, False Dragon Head
The name is derived from its botanical features described in Greek. Physa is a ‘bladder’ and stege is a ‘roof covering’. The fruit of the plant is covered with an inflated calyx which gives it the name of bladder roof covering. Obedient Plant comes from the ability of the flowers to remain in the direction they are placed. Try it in your own garden. Turn a flower and it will remain in that spot and not return to its original direction. False Dragon Head comes from the shape of the flower head. What else?
- Height: 24” to 30”
- Sun needed: Sun to part shade
- Bloom color: Pinks and whites
- Bloom time: Mid summer
- Planting space: 18” apart
- Soil preferred: Moist, fertile
- Propagation method: Seed, cuttings, divisions
Physostegia virginiana is a North American native and the parent of all the varieties on the market
‘Crown of Snow’ is an older variety that is white and a fast spreader.
‘Pink Bouquet’ is taller than most at 36 to 48” and bright pink.
‘Rose Bouquet’ is an old rose pink variety
‘Summer Snow’ is pure white and reputed to be slower spreading than the species.
Physostegia virginiana subspecies speciosa
‘Variegata’ at 30” tall is a form where the leaves are heavily marked with a light cream color. It has lilac flowers and is much less aggressive than the species although in my garden, it is floppier than other varieties. This is a good plant to search for.
In the wild, this plant lives in damp soil in areas of full or part sunshine. Their underground rhizomes spread quickly in rich, fertile soil, particularly if the soil is moist.
If the ground is dry, their growth will be slowed considerably. Having said that, if you grow this plant, do plan on edging it every spring with a sharp shovel. And, you should consider growing it – it is a particularly wonderful plant for the mid to back of the border. It is pest and disease free and except for the variegated form, does not requires staking. It also makes an excellent cut flower.