01 August 2008

Disobedient Plant

The tag on the pot at the nursery read Obedient Plant. As she was handed the payment, the cashier warned, "don't believe the name - it ought to be called the disobedient plant because it spreads like crazy." After four years, the obedient plant (or dragon flower as it is sometimes called) has been behaving itself.

The Obedient Plant (physostegia virginiana) does like to spread, but it is easy to keep under control. It's all in the wrist. Pulling out the new shoots in the spring where they step over the line is all that it needs.

It's probably a good guess that the plant growing in my front display garden is not the best cultivar when compared to the photos found around the internet. Photos of someone else's plants show several blossoms open at the same time, as opposed to my experience of only a few.

The plant should prefer its native wet swampy soil, but it seems to be happy in full sun and the well-drained bed. It starts growing in early spring as a dense clump, providing deep green foliage for months before producing flowers at the height of summer. Heavy summer rains tend to push them over after the 2-foot high (60 cm) stalks have reached their full height at flowering time. This is a plant that doesn't shout, and can be trained despite its reputation as a bad boy.

For The Record:
  • Well-drained drained organic soil
  • Full sun
  • No fertilizer

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: silver salvia, nicotiana, cosmos, sunflowers, canna, zinnias, basil, castor
  • Harvested: 5 tomatoes