Obedient Plant Care And Growing Guide

Last Updated February 8, 2021 By Bella Zinti

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Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) or false dragonhead is a bright and spiky flowering plant that belongs to the mint family. Native to North America, the obedient plant's flower resembles snapdragons. Blossom in late summer, the obedient plant's individual flowers can be bent to different directions and stay in that position.

Obedient plant is considered a vigorous plant in the garden as it can grow easily and spreads quickly. It can spread quite aggressively throughout the garden by rhizomes. The biggest obedient plant care is keeping it from rampant spreading.

Botanical Name:

Common Name:


Mature Size:

Sun Requirement:

Planting Zones:


Physostegia virginiana

Obedient plant or false dragonhead


2-4 feet

Full sun


Not toxic to human or pet

Botanical Name: Physostegia virginiana

Common Name: Obedient plant or false dragonhead

Type: Perennial

Mature Size: 2-4 feet

Sun Requirement: Full sun

Planting Zones: 3-10

Toxicity: Not toxic to human or pet

Obedient Plant care and growing Guide

Light requirement

The obedient plant thrives in full sun but can handle part shade. During dry summers, an obedient plant can appreciate some afternoon shade. Otherwise, the leaves can droop in the hot sun.

Soil Requirement

The obedient plant prefers moist, slightly acidic soil (5.5 to 6.3 pH), loamy, and well-drained soil. But the obedient plants can be grown in average to poor soil conditions and can tolerate drought.

Water Requirement

In a drought environment, the obedient plants need watering frequently. During hot summer months and your obedient plants are in the full sun all day, your obedient plant's leaves can droop. If this happens, it is a sign the plant is thirsty and needs watering.

While the plant prefers plenty of moisture, it doesn't like excessive watering. Avoid over watering your plant.

Fertilization requirement

When the obedient plant starts to show signs of nutrient deficiencies, you can feed fertilizer. The more you fertilize the plant, the more aggressive spreading in your garden. If you do not want them to spread in your garden quickly, fertilize less.

This plant type usually needs to be fed about once a month during its growing season.


The propagation of the obedient plant is best done through seeds or rhizome in fall or spring.

To Grow From Seeds

When it is grown from seeds, best starting out in a plant starter and plant 2-3 seeds per container. Use a mixture of potting soil and water regularly. Place the container in full sun, and after a few weeks, you will start to notice germination. Once it is starting to grow, you can then transplant it to another area.

To grow from rhizome

To grow the obedient plant from the rhizome, dig a hole for growing the small plant. Then trim the rhizome roots and wrap them with a damp paper towel. Then place it in another prepared hole and fill it with soil and potting mix. Water regularly to promote healthy growth.


Obedient plant is considered non toxic for humans or pets. However, it may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upsets if pet ingested, but not expected to be life-threatening.

Pest/ Diseases

Physostegia virginiana contains a powerful chemical compound called Iridoids. This chemical compound gives the plant a bitter taste and protects Physostegia virginiana from harmful insects, herbivores, and even deer-resistant.

Physostegia virginiana is, however, often affected by leaf-spot fungi. The damaged leave should be removed and disposed of at the first sign.


Obedient plant is a low maintenance and easy care plant. Recommend pruning in early summer to encourage branching and additional blossoms. To prune, cut the stems back about 3 to 4 inches, and the new branches tip forms a flower bud.

If you had your obedient plants for years, the plant might need to be staked or divided, especially when the obedient plant is thinning out in the center and becomes floppy. To divide, dig out the excess stalks and plant them in new areas in spring.

Varieties Of Obedient Plant

  • "Pink Bouquet" Physostegia virginiana: long spikes of rose-pink flowers typically grow about 3 feet tall. This variety peaks in late Summer and Fall.
  • "Summer Glow" Physostegia virginiana: A tall grower with deep lavender-pink flowers that typically grows about 3 to 4 feet tall.
  • "Variegata" Physostegia virginiana: Pink flowers with cream white edges on leaves This variety typically grows up to 24 inches tall and grows well in zones 3-9.
  • "Vivid" Physostegia virginiana: Sharp spikes that produce short and dense clumps. It has bright purple-pink flowers and can grow up to 2 feet tall. Grow best in zone 2-8.

Benefits of growing Obedient plants

  • Obedient plant is a beautiful addition to your garden with its colorful flowers.
  • The obedient plant flowers can be used for decorative purposes and make excellent cut flowers.
  • Beneficial for wildlife as it attracts bees, hummingbirds, and others.

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About the author

Bella has a Bachelors degree in interior design, is a master gardener. She designs nourishing outdoor & indoor spaces guided by the practice of Feng Shui.