History/general species info: Native to Florida. Many common names including blue porterweed, blue snake weed, bastard vervain, Brazilian tea, Jamaica vervain, and light-blue snakeweed. The name comes from its “reported” medicinal uses. A foaming, porter-like brew, much like beer, is made from at least one species in the Bahamas. Whether it works or not is open to conjecture.
Characteristics: Evergreen. Small perennial shrub. Fast growing in sand, loam and clay. Deer resistant. Salt and wind tolerant. No serious disease or insect problems. Rich, dark green foliage displayed on square, green stems that terminate with purple spiking snake-like flowers, makes Porterweed a nice addition to any sunny landscape. Frequently used in a mass planting along a foundation, or as a clipped or natural unclipped hedge to provide continuous color spring to late fall.
Planting / Care: Grows well in average, medium, well-drained sand, clay, loam soils. Requires full sun for best flowering and fullest growth. Plants tolerate extended drought once established, but vigorous growth when irrigated. Cut back to 6” from the ground in late winter for a beautiful flush of foliage and purple flowers in the spring.