2017 – Obedient Plant
The obedient plant or false dragonhead is a very fun plant that has some very unique qualities. First of all, the obedient plant’s common name comes from the flowers’ unique pliable nature. The flower heads can be pushed along the axis of the stem and will remain wherever they are moved. This makes the plant very useful for cut flowers or flower arrangements. This plant is a rhizomatous perennial that is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae. A common characteristic of this family is a square stem. The flowers a pale lilac with a tubular shape and snapdragon appearance that grow on terminal spikes. The flower spikes bloom from the bottom to top from late June to September. P. virginiana has sharply toothed, lanceolate leaves arranged in an opposite manner. The square stems can reach up to 4 feet but may fall over if the soils are too rich or it is not receiving enough sun. Beware this plant can spread rather aggressively either by seed or rhizomatously with stolons. To prevent this a gardener can pull up the undesired shallow roots to keep the plant tamed.
Obedient plant lives in a wide variety of habitats from open meadows to stream banks. It is native to much of North America from Quebec to Florida and even west to New Mexico. This plant is great because it can tolerate moist soils with poor drainage or soils on the drier end of the spectrum. The nectar of this plant is desirable to many species of butterflies and even attracts hummingbirds. Overall this is an excellent plant and can really give a show in the late summer, early fall especially if used in a rain garden.
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