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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.

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

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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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

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