Pronounced “fi-so-STEE-jee-uh,” this perennial blossom presents a vertical spike of tubular florets arranged in rows along the stem. Each floret has a two-lobed upper lip and a spotted, three-lobed lower lip. They are usually unbranched but may have one or two forks near the top of the stem. The pretty yellow-green foliage is usually from 3-12cm long and is sharply toothed.
Physostegia is a member of the Lamiaceae, or Labiatae, (mint) family. Close relatives include Salvia, Coleus, Ajuga, mint and thyme. The genus name comes from the Greek root “physa” (bladder) and “stege” (covering). The name was given because the calyx becomes inflated and covers the fruit as the seed pods develop.
Physostegia is native to eastern North America, on prairies and stream banks from Canada to Florida. It is most available from June through November from domestic and Dutch growers. The genus has about 15 species, available in red-violet, pink, lavender or white.
If a Physostegia flower is shaped into a new position, it will retain its new shape. This unique behavior accounts for the common name “obedient plant.” Another common name, “false dragonhead,” refers to the flower’s resemblance to a snapdragon.
The small, linear stems of Physostegias make them easy to arrange in a variety of designs. They are great for use in hospital designs, centerpieces and other types of arrangements with a formal garden style.
In addition to gardeny, vegetative and botanical compositions, Physostegias are ideal choices for traditional Western straight-line line-mass designs as well as the architectural European parallel systems and new-convention arrangement styles. Physostegias will last for approximately seven to 14 days.