Stachytarpheta Species, Changeable Velvetberry, Pink Rat Tail, Pink Snakeweed, Red Porterweed

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)
Synonym:Stachytarpheta mutabilis var. violacea
Synonym:Stachytarpheta purpurea
Synonym:Stachytarpheta zuccagnii




Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

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

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


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

Mobile, Alabama

San Diego, California

Bartow, Florida

Big Pine Key, Florida

Boynton Beach, 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)

Barbourville, Kentucky

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 27, 2016, jodylin from Boynton Beach, FL wrote:

my red porterweed started out exceptional. the leaves have brown spots and are dropping from the plant! i do not see any bugs. help


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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 calle... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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