En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
3 ratings

Saturday - August 16, 2008

From: Island Lake, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Water Gardens, Soils, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Is the Obedient Plant a bog plant?
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I purchased 2 obedient plants at a farmer's market in Michigan. As I was unfamiliar with this plant, the merchant told me it did well in full sun. It was just what I needed. When I got home I looked it up on your website and was dismayed to find out yes, it does like full sun. But it is a swamp/bog/pond plant. I have plenty of sun but no wet area to plant in. What would be next best? Sun and heavily mulched? Shade (where it will be easier to keep it's "feet" wet) I need help.


Never fear, Mr. Smarty Plants is here. There are four different species or subspecies of Obedient Plant in our Native Plant Database, all are native to Illinois, and here is the true word on each:

Physostegia intermedia (slender false dragonhead) - The webpage for this plant says it will grow in shallow standing water, does not require that.

Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant) - doesn't mention it standing or growing in water at all.

Physostegia virginiana ssp. praemorsa (obedient plant) - likes moist soil, will grow near bog or pond area

Physostegia virginiana ssp. virginiana (obedient plant) - no mention of water

In Texas, with much drier soils and hotter sun, we have treated the Obedient Plant as a part shade plant, and tried to put it in an area where the soil would stay more moist. It did just fine. In Illinois, it could probably be in full sun, again, with just a little more moisture in the soil. The point is, if you ever did want a plant that would grow at the edge of a pond or bog area, well, here it is.

Physostegia intermedia

Physostegia virginiana

Physostegia virginiana ssp. virginiana

Physostegia virginiana ssp. praemorsa




More Soils Questions

Coffee grounds as mulch into vegetable beds
February 05, 2009 - Can you put too much coffee grounds as mulch into vegetable beds?
view the full question and answer

Plants that will grow in clay in North Carolina
March 14, 2008 - I have a small fenced back yard, predominately hard red clay, that is a major focal point. I am designing my own garden/yard area (to cut cost) and have a list of plants that will grow in this soil w...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for Waynesville MO
April 09, 2013 - We moved to Waynesville, MO (gardening region 6) and when we bought our house there was a nice looking gardening area in front of the house. It is shaded moderately by a Redwood Tree and was "occupie...
view the full question and answer

Plants for full sun and clay soil in NY
May 06, 2008 - We live in upstate new york( zone 5) with full sun and clay soil. What flowers/flowering shrubs would be successful in this environment?
view the full question and answer

Disagreement with HOA on raised beds placed beneath mature oak from Tequesta FL
April 05, 2014 - I have mature 30 year old oak trees on my property and I put a raised bed under each with very good soil and I used pavers for retaining the soil about about 1.5 ft high. I planted a perennial begonia...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center