Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Red Porterweed, Pink Snakeweed
Stachytarpheta mutabilis

Family: Verbenaceae (ver-be-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Stachytarpheta (stay-kee-tar-FEE-tuh) (Info)
Species: mutabilis (mew-TAB-ill-iss) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

17 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter
Mid Winter


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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By Floridian
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By Floridian
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Thumbnail #3 of Stachytarpheta mutabilis by BUFFY690

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There are a total of 9 photos.
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8 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive CampesinoColonel On Aug 30, 2014, CampesinoColonel from Homestead, FL wrote:

I first saw this pink kind in Cuba, and there is a pale yellow one there as well. I believe there are several types of pink. Some are huge and bushy, like the ones in Somalia, and there are the short stubby ones with dark flowers. I have some here in the Florida Keys and they do quite well because we get plenty of rain and never any frost. Mine are about 5 feet, but I prune them. I'm sure they would get taller. They seem to only grow from clippings. I can seed the blue and purple ones but not the pink ones. Easy enough to do clippings tough.

Negative vossner On May 14, 2014, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Did not survive my z9a garden, was a skimpy bloomer for the one season. When I yanked it out in May 2014, there seemed to be some nice live roots but everything else looked pretty dead. Won't bother replacing unless I get it for free.

Positive gardengeek63 On Jan 26, 2014, gardengeek63 from Port Saint John, FL wrote:

Based on my observations of porterweed in my Port St John and Titusville gardens, the coral is a hummingbird and butterfly magnet. It gets the largest, 6ft x 6ft, so give it plenty of space. The red stays small, usually about 3ft x 3ft.

Cold hardiness: The coral may freeze to the ground in a hard freeze, but will come back. The red won't survive.

I've never had any issues with either of these colors being invasive or aggressive re-seeders.

Neutral LJGardens2 On Oct 17, 2013, LJGardens2 from Lake Jackson, TX wrote:

This was our first time to use this plant in Lake Jackson, TX. We planted about 30 of these last weekend in a public butterfly garden and are waiting to see how they come out in the spring. From others' comments, we believe we should have no problem with them.

Neutral jstaz On Jul 9, 2012, jstaz from Homosassa, FL wrote:

I have several red porter weed plants that have been beautiful in past years with an abundance of flowers. In past years they have grown to a height of 5 to 6 ft and very robust. This year the plants have not gotten any taller than 3 ft., showing flowering stems but no flowers. Additionally, the leaves are very hard, almost like a holly plant. Any ideas what may be going on? The leaves are large and mostly the correct dark green as they have been years prior.

Positive fs123 On Jul 8, 2011, fs123 from Richmond, VA wrote:

This plant will not survive our winters in Virginia, but I am thrilled with it! On top of being beautiful and everblooming, the hummingbirds swarm to it, over everything else in my garden!

Positive Kaskazi On Nov 14, 2008, Kaskazi from Homestead, FL wrote:

Pink porterweed is a robust South American species that can reach 6' tall and 8' wide or more. It's correctly called Stachytarpheta mutabilis var. mutabilis, but there is a violet-flowered variety in the nursery trade called S. mutabilis var. violacea. The red-flowered species that only grows to about 3' tall is S. miniacea, native to Mexico and Honduras. There is much confusion about what is native to Florida, and it's already been noted by someone else that the only Florida native species is S. jamaicensis, which is a blue-flowered low-growing species with mostly horizontal stems and coarsely toothed leaves. Another blue-flowered species in the nursery trade has deep blue flowers and attains a height of about 5' with dark green leaves that have a quilted appearance. It is correctly called S. cayennensis, but is often referred to by the botanical synonym S. urticifolia. It not only has been erroneously sold as a Florida native, it has also been reported erroneously as being native to the Old World. There are no Old World members of this genus.

It's interesting to note that S. jamaicensis and S. cayennensis flowers last only part of a day, while S. mutabilis flowers last for several days each. All members of this genus are superb attractors of butterflies, but S. mutabilis (both pink and violet varieties) is a favorite of hummingbirds as well.

Positive Danny112596 On Sep 1, 2008, Danny112596 from Los Fresnos, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

Actually this is the regular Rare Pink Porterweed. There is a red one that is a dwarf of this Pink but the flower is red.

Neutral BloomingFlower On Jul 2, 2008, BloomingFlower from West Palm Beach, FL wrote:

There have been many publications and plant nurseries claiming that Stachytarpheta mutabilis is native to Florida. Stachytarpheta mutabilis is actually native to South America, not Florida. The only native 'porterweed' is Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, which only has blue/purple flowers. There is not a pink variety of Stachytarpheta jamaicensis.

Positive iae On Jan 29, 2008, iae from Durban
South Africa wrote:

This amazing plant grows very fast in gardens on the east coast of South Africa. It is perpetually in bloom and attracts large numbers of bumble bees, honey bees, butterflies and birds - outdoing even the pentas. It is best grown in clusters to avoid that leggy look and once established is a colourful addition to the garden requiring little maintenance. I have both pink and purple ones but have difficulty in telling the varieties of stachytarpheta apart since s. mutabilis, s. urticifolia and s.cayennensis are so similar.

Positive sanita On Apr 21, 2007, sanita from Brandon, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I planted 7 of these in a partial shade area of my backyard. I now have 13 from the "babies" as I call them. I've also given several I've grown from the babies to friends. The ones I planted originally 2 years ago grow to at least 6 ft. tall. I cut them back in the early spring. They are one of my favorite plants, very low maintenance. I have the purple or blue variety. I'm very interested in obtaining different colors. I've only seen the purple ones in our local nurseries or garden centers. Does anyone know where I might obtain different colors? I live in Brandon Florida. I was very pleased to discover it is a Florida native as I'm trying to eliminate any non native and invasive plants from the many plants I have in our very large backyard.

Positive BUFFY690 On Apr 24, 2005, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Great plant I was fairly dissappointed by its not returning I guess it is not an perennial here in zone 7, and we even had a extra mild winter, and it was mulched very well. I did save some seeds though and I am going to give it a try in some pots next week.
Great for hummingbirds and butterflies, even for one season it is very rewarding.
The seeds are inside the long tubular florer stalks that are left on the bush. They are thinner than a grain of rice and dark colored.

2005 came back like a champ from the seeds I collected, fed the hummers and butterflies all summer and way into the fall. I love this plant and will try it again later in the garden, I did not get to collect seeds in 2005, for 2006


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama
San Diego, California
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Bradley, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Casselberry, Florida
Cocoa, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Homestead, Florida (2 reports)
Homosassa, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Melbourne Beach, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Port Orange, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Sanford, Florida (2 reports)
Sarasota, Florida
Titusville, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Valrico, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Hebron, Kentucky
Bellaire, Texas
Castroville, Texas
East Bernard, Texas
Lake Jackson, Texas
Liberty, Texas
Los Fresnos, Texas
Lufkin, Texas
Mansfield, Texas
Rio Hondo, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Zapata, Texas
Richmond, Virginia

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