Physostegia virginiana (L.) Benth.
Fall Obedient Plant, False Dragonhead, Virginia Lions-heart
Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
USDA Symbol: PHVI8
Erect 5 ft. square stems frequently grow in clumps and bear long, lanceolate leaves and 4-6 in., terminal spikes of pink to lavender, tubular flowers. The perennialís long-lasting flowers have five triangular lobes, two forming an upper lip and three forming a lower lip.
This attractive plant is snapdragon-like, but its square stem is typical of the mint family. If the flowers are bent, they tend to stay in the new position for a while, hence the common name Obedient Plant. Several garden forms occasionally escape to the wild. Flowers can be swivelled into new positions where they stay obediently. (Ontario Native Plants 2002)
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Que. to MN & e. SD, s. to FL, TX, and Coahuila in northern Mexico; reported in MT
Native Habitat: River banks; wet thickets; prairies, River banks, swamps, and low grounds in East and North Central Texas. Sand, clay, limestone; poor drainage okay.
Growing ConditionsLight 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.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High
PropagationDescription: 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.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Native plants for shady small spaces in Houston, TX
June 18, 2006
What are the best plants and flowers to plant in small spaces in an urban area in Houston, Texas? I have several flower beds that are 3 foot wide and 10-12 foot long that get half day sun. The area...
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
NPSOT - Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Physostegia virginiana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Physostegia virginiana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Physostegia virginiana
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-23
Research By: TWC Staff