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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - September 19, 2009

From: New Waterford, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Propagation
Title: Dividing obedient plant in New Waterford OH
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in northeast Ohio, and have an obedient plant, which has spread, (a little) since last year when I bought it. I really do like the plant, and wanted to put it in several more areas in the garden. What would be the best time to do this, and what would I have the most luck in doing? Should I dig up some of the shoots that are on the outside of the circular growth, and just replant them elsewhere? From what Ive read, it should spread easily. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks, Laura

ANSWER:

There are four members of the physostegia genus native to North America, and three native to Ohio: Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant), Physostegia virginiana ssp. praemorsa (obedient plant) and Physostegia virginiana ssp. virginiana (obedient plant). Since the same care requirements would apply to all of them, we'll use Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant) as our example. 

From our Native Plant Database, here are the Growing Conditons for the obedient plant:

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, humus-rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Obedient plant receives its name from the characteristic fact that if you manipulate an individual flower back and forth on its axis, it will stay in position you place it. It is wonderfully adaptable, tolerating both drought and poor drainage. Spreads aggressively by stolons, but is easy to pull out and keep in check. Obedient plant is a good nectar source for butterflies. This perennial is easy to establish and maintain. It can become aggressive but the shallow roots are easy to pull out. 

Also from the Native Plant Database, here are Propagation Instructions:

Description: Propagate by division of roots or by seed. Plant seeds in fall or in spring after damp stratification. Clumps that form from spreading stolons can be divided in early spring or late fall.
Seed Collection: Seeds are 1/8, dull-brown nutlets.
Seed Treatment: Damp stratify 3 months at 40 degrees. 

It looks like division of the existing plants will be the easiest, fastest way to propagate your obedient plants. From Fine Gardening, here is an article on 10 Tips on Dividing Perennial Plants.

From our Native Plant Database:


Physostegia virginiana

Physostegia virginiana

Physostegia virginiana

Physostegia virginiana

 

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Dividing non-native daffodils from Austin
April 15, 2012 - The foliage on my daffodils is lush and healthy, but I have no blooms. Should I divide them?
view the full question and answer

Plants for elementary school grow lab in New York
March 14, 2007 - What can we grow in a grow lab in our elementary school library from seed now that will bloom by June or what interesting looking established plants can we put in this grow lab that will have meaning ...
view the full question and answer

Seeds from opuntia
May 11, 2009 - How do I get seeds from opuntias?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting azalea sprouts in St Louis MO
August 27, 2009 - I have an azalea bush that I cut back severely 2 years ago and unwittingly started 3 or 4 new bushes when some limbs grew back along the ground and created their own roots. I'd like to separate them...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis)
October 08, 2008 - I have seeds from a madrone tree and would like to know if you have had success propagating a madrone and if so, could you give me some tips, because I hear it can be tricky.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center