Grow Obedient Plant from Seed: Collecting Seeds
If you’d like to grow Obedient Plant from seed it doesn’t get easier than the Physostegia virginiana aka False Dragonhead. The seeds sprout really easily with a germination rate of nearly 100 percent. Seeds can be collected from existing plants. If you don’t have one already growing in your garden you can purchase Obedient Plant seeds online.
Obedient plant has tubular, snapdragon-like, pink to pale lilac flowers on tall spikes rising to 2-4’ tall. The foliage consists of narrow sharply toothed leaves (to 3-6” long). The flowers grow successively on tall 24″ stalks in four vertical rows. Once the flowers wither away the entire stalk that remains will be loaded with seed pods containing one seed per pod but dozens of total seeds per stalk.
To collect the seeds of the Obedient Plant you’ll need to leave the spent flowers stalks in place on the plant until they dry out to ensure good seed maturity. When the seed pods have dried and the seeds have finished maturing on the spent flower stalks simply remove the entire stalk with a pair of garden shears.
Next, you’ll need to separate the Obedient plant seeds. To do so just hold the stalks by the base with one hand over a paper plant or other light-colored surface and use your thumb and index finger to strip the seed pods off the stalk from the base to the tip of the dried flower stalk. You’ll then have to sort the dark brown seeds from the chaff. The seeds are about 1/8″-3/16″ in size (photo above) so you’ll have no trouble determining what is seed and what is chaff.
Planting The Obedient Plant Seeds
There are a couple ways you can grow Obedient Plant from seed, direct sowing outdoors or starting them indoors before spring. Both methods work well.
Grow Obedient Plant from Seed: Direct Sowing Outdoors
If you decide to direct sow the seeds of the Obedient Plant it’s best to do so in the late fall after several frosts but before snow covers the ground. Plant the seeds just below the surface of the soil no more than 1/4″ depth in groups of 2-3 seeds, space the groups about 18-24″. Planting outdoors is not as reliable as starting them indoors due to the potential for critters etc. to disturb or eat your seeds before they get a chance to germinate.
Grow Obedient Plant from Seed: Sowing in Containers
If you choose to sow the Obedient Plant seeds indoors start them about 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. I always start mine indoors. A 60-day stratification period (storing the seeds in a refrigerator) is recommended before sowing the seeds indoors but I’ve found it unnecessary.
When preparing to sow, fill your planting cells with a seed starting mix that has good drainage. I started mine using a 6-cell seed pack. My recommendation is to plant 2 seeds per cell either in the same hole or spaced out.
Planting depth is the same as outdoors, just beneath soil not deeper than 1/4″. While the germination rates will be high indoors, >90%, I still like to sow a couple seeds per cell. Once the seedlings are growing well select the strongest seedling and cut off the weaker seedling at soil level using scissors.
Here’s a good article about how to use Obedient Plant in your garden.
One average it takes about a week for seeds to germinate. If you planted in a six-cell pack wait until the seedlings have formed a couple sets of true leaves before transplanting to a larger container. The Obedient Plant seedlings pictured above still have their first set of leaves called cotyledons. The true leaves will emerge next and be somewhat slender with a serrated edge. Don’t fertilize or use a very weak dilution (quarter strength) until the seedlings develop a couple sets of true leaves. Once the plants are a few inches tall they should be ready to transplant into your garden a couple weeks after your last frost date.