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Butterfly Gardening and Habitat Program

 
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Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis)

Other common names for this plant include Blue Snakeweed, Jamaica vervain, Brazilian Tea, Devil's Coachwhip

Blue porterweed is a low growing perennial which blooms year round. Often used as a ground cover, it can also be added to hanging baskets. While considered as a short lived perennial, blue porterweed is will self seed or can be propagated by stem cuttings.Although the flowers on blue porterweed are small and each flower only opens for one day, it attracts a large number of butterflies.

Native to the south florida, blue porterweed has naturalized outside of it's original, historic range to become quite widespread in Florida. Another, non-native porterweed, Stachytarpheta urticifolia, is often confused (and labeled) as blue porterweed. While both plants will attract butterflies, the non-native blue porterweed can spread more rapidly and there is the chance that it will become aggressive.

To differentiate between the native and non-native blue porterweed, look at the plant shape. The native blue porterweed is low growing and spreads horizonally while the non-native porterweed has an upright, woody form, often reaching four to five feet.

Importance as a caterpillar food source: Leaves of blue porterweed are eaten by Tropical Buckeye caterpillars. Since Tropical Buckeye butterfly populations are found only in localized areas, blue porterweed is not considered a primary caterpillar food source.

Importance as a butterfly nectar source: An extremely popular nectar source with a wide variety of butterflies including the Gulf Fritillary, Julia, and Large Orange Sulphur gives blue porterweed a nectar rating of 3.

The current rating for Blue Porterweed:

Nectar Rating
Caterpillar Rating
3
3
1

If you have experience growing blue porterweed, we would like your opinion. Let us know how it performed in your butterfly garden. Your comments will help other butterfly gardeners in your region to create better butterfly gardens:

 

Blue Porterweed Cultural Requirements
USDA Hardiness Zone
9 to 11
Bloom Period
All year
Bloom Color
Blue
Plant Height
1 - 3 feet
Plant Spread
3 feet
Light Exposure
Full sun
Soil Moisture
Moist but does not require watering once established
Animal/Disease Problems
None
 
 

 

Blue Porterweed(Stachytarpheta jamaicensis)

 

Native range for Blue Porterweed in Florida (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis)

 

Brazilian Skipper on Blue Porterweed

 

This plant has been rated at the following locations:

Central Pennsylvania (well outside of native range): when raising blue porterweed as an annual, it did not perform well as a nectar plant.

Broward Co., Florida: this plant is one of the most popular nectar sources in the entire garden, attracting a wide variety of pollinators in addition to butterflies (including bees, moths, and beetles). It even attracts hummingbird moths.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
     

 

©2008 North American Butterfly Association