Content Detail

Obedient plant is named for the tendency for the flowers to stay in place when they are repositioned. From midsummer to early fall, the tall spikes of bright pink or purple flowers are lovely in beds, borders, or along streams or ponds. In consistently moist environments, obedient plants may readily spread. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.

  • Family (English) Mint
  • Family (botanic) Lamiaceae (formerly Labiatae)
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Occasional flooding, Wet sites
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Pink, Purple
  • Shape or form Upright
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Wildlife Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

Obedient plant grows to 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. It spreads by producing offsets by underground stem structures (rhizomes) and by self-seeding.

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

The native range of obedient plants includes the Eastern, Central, and parts of the Western United States. C Value: 4.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Obedient plants primarily attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees. 

Leaf description:

The leaves of an obedient plant are up to 5 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide (lanceolate or oblanceolate). They have serrated edges. The leaves attach directly to the stem (sessile) in opposite pairs. 

Flower description:

Obedient plant flowers grow in 10-inch tall spikes with four rows of densely packed pinkish-purple flowers and buds on each spike. The flowers mature from the bottom of the spike, upwards. The individual flowers have a 1-inch long, petallike, tubular structure (corolla) that divides into two lips (bilabiate) at the tip. The upper lip is rounded on the end, and the bottom lip is divided into three lobes. The center lobe is the widest and is often lighter or white in color with violet spots. Visible from inside the corolla tube are four arching, white or pinkish structures (stamens) with dark purple tips (anthers). The constricted base of the corolla tube is surrounded by a leaflike tube (calyx) that divides into five triangular, pointed lobes at the tip. 

Fruit description:

Obedient plant fruit develops within the persistent calyx. The fruits (schizocarps) are small, dry, and split into four segments (nutlets) with one seed each. They are ovoid in shape and brown in color. 

Plant Care:

In ideal settings, an obedient plant can spread extensively. Taller varieties may require staking for support. This plant is well adapted to sites with poor drainage.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Obedient plant has minor issues with rust, spider mites, and aphids. 


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