The physostegia, or obedient plant, has prolific dazzling tubular flower spikes which are arranged on distinctly square stems. This oddly named perennial is perfect for the middle of a mixed or herbaceous border in sun or partial shade.
Emerging from a dormant crown in spring, a cluster of green stems shoots upward to 90cm (30in), each clothed by 7.5cm (3in) long, narrow, waxy, dark green leaves. The sturdy clumps are topped all summer with pure white, snapdragon-like flowers, which can be twisted around the stem and will remain where you put them...hence, the common name!
The obedient plant is prized among florists and perfect as a cut flower, it is best planted in fertile, reliably moist soil. These popular plants fill in the border in late summer, which can be an in-between time for perennials. Given an early sowing, they will flower in their first year. the plants will flower until first frosts and continue to look good well after flowering, sometimes well into November.
Physostegia virginiana 'Crown of Snow' has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Sowing: Sow late winter to late spring or late summer to autumn.
Sow the seed thinly on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots, cells or trays. “Just cover” with a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Do not exclude light as the seeds need it to germinate.
Keep at a temperature of between 20 to 25°C (70 to 75°F). Keep the compost moist but not waterlogged; water from beneath the tray. Most seeds germinate between 21 to 30 days, some may take a little longer
When large enough to handle, usually 4-6 weeks after germination, transplant seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots. At transplanting stage, the plant can be cut back, to encourage a more compact, bushy plant
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost, 38cm (15in) apart. For best results, plant in ordinary garden soil in full sun.
Protect young plants from slug damage using beer-traps or environmentally-friendly slug pellets.
Divide congested colonies in early spring
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Borders and Beds, Cut flower
The genus name may have been taken from the Greek phyle meaning 'tribe', probably from the flowers being tightly clustered in heads
The common name obedient plant comes from the odd fact that the flower-heads, when moved from their usual position, stay put instead of springing back as most flowers would. The flowers are on swivels that can be bent right or left on the stem,
Because of this “obedient habit”, it’s a fun plant for children’s gardens. It is a useful feature for floral displays. Physostegia’s other common name, False Dragonhead, came about because of the flowers resemblance to snapdragons. In some areas it also has the common name of “The Lady of the Lake”
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25 Seeds Family Lamiaceae Genus Physostegia Species virginiana Cultivar Crown of Snow (aka Summer Snow) Common Name Obedient plant, The Lady of the Lake Other Common Names Obedience Plant, False Dragonhead Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Mid to late Summer Height 60cm (24in) Spread 40cm (16in) Position Full sun. Soil Average to moist Time to Sow Late winter to late spring or late summer to autumn Germination 21 to 30 days