Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
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

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

 

 

 

More Water Gardens Questions

Plants for a pond bank in Gladwin MI
September 13, 2009 - Our acre-size pond bank is sloped and high maintenance--needs mowed. We have lots of deer. We would like to plant a low-lying ground cover to eliminate mowing the bank--any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Best time to plant wetland plants in NY
April 19, 2010 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants - I'm working on a fresh water, shoreline wetland creation project in New York State. I've created two zones of native wetland plantings, an emergent shallow marsh zone ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a bioswale in Irving, TX
March 30, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, what plants would you recommend for a bioswale in the north Texas (Dallas) area?
view the full question and answer

More than you want to know about planting a pond in Austin Texas
December 10, 2010 - Winterizing Water Garden QA from Nov 27 Austin American-Statesman: Would the garden (60-gal aluminum) with those plants (papyrus, horsetail, water lily) be placed in the sun, shade, part shade or ? I ...
view the full question and answer

Effect of herbicides on frogs
December 10, 2007 - I live in a planned development adjacent to a natural waterway that contains native and non native plants. It also is an amphibian habitat with many frogs. The landscape manager has sprayed the ar...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.