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Stachytarpheta jamaicensis Blue Porterweed

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


Porterweed is a small perennial shrub that becomes woody toward the base of the stem as it grows to about one year old. Plants grow about 4 feet tall by 6 feet wide before stems droop and touch the ground. Blue or pink flowers are borne terminally on long, stringy spikes at the ends of the stems. They attract butterflies to the landscape. Rich, dark green foliage displayed on square, green stems makes porterweed a nice addition to any sunny landscape.

Full Form - Stachytarpheta jamaicensis: blue porterweed.
Figure 1. Full Form - Stachytarpheta jamaicensis: Blue porterweed.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Leaf - Stachytarpheta jamaicensis: blue porterweed.
Figure 2. Leaf - Stachytarpheta jamaicensis: Blue porterweed.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Flower - Stachytarpheta jamaicensis: blue porterweed
Figure 3. Flower - Stachytarpheta jamaicensis: Blue porterweed.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

Pronunciation: stake-kee-tar-FEE-tuh  jah-may-SEN-sis

Common name(s): blue porterweed, light-blue snakeweed, joee

Family: Verbenaceae

Plant type: shrub; perennial; herbaceous

USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Figure 4)

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year-round

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Uses: hedge; border; mass planting; attracts butterflies

Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 4. Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 4 to 8 feet

Spread: 4 to 8 feet

Plant habit: round

Plant density: dense

Growth rate: fast

Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: serrate

Leaf shape: ovate

Leaf venation: pinnate; reticulate

Leaf type and persistence: semi-evergreen

Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: no fall color change

Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: pink; blue

Flower characteristic: summer flowering; fall flowering


Fruit shape: unknown

Fruit length: unknown

Fruit cover: unknown

Fruit color: unknown

Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems

Current year stem/twig color: green

Current year stem/twig thickness: thin


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun

Soil tolerances: acidic; alkaline; sand; loam; clay

Drought tolerance: high

Soil salt tolerances: unknown

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem

Winter interest: no special winter interest

Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more

Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Porterweed is frequently used in a mass planting along a foundation, or as a clipped or natural unclipped hedge to provide continuous color to the landscape. Space plants about 3 to 4 feet apart. A row will maintain a nice uniform shape for 6 or more months without pruning. Regular clipping can maintain a uniform shape for more than a year before the plant needs to be cut back to thicken the growth. Unclipped plants begin to open up as stems droop to the ground. For this reason, they are usually cut back each year, or any time the plant becomes leggy. This allows new growth to fill in and thicken the plant.

Locate porterweed in a sunny location in any soil. Provide irrigation during establishment and then in extended drought in the summer. Fertilize about twice each year to maintain foliage color and provide for continuous growth.

Pest and Diseases

No serious pests or diseases are known to affect porterweed.

Publication #FPS-559

Release Date:January 23, 2024

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

Related Topics

  • Critical Issue: 1. Agricultural and Horticultural Enterprises
Fact Sheet
General Public

About this Publication

This document is FPS-559, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised August 2021 and October 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Gail Hansen, professor, sustainable landscape design; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman
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