Well, I must say...

Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, FOctober 15, 2013

... I'm none too impressed with the Master Gardeners of the Lake County Extension Office. Usually I'm singing praises of them, or at least of the office in general, but after this past weekend...

As I said in another post, I attended a Master Gardener Plant Sale there this past weekend. And as I said, one of the plants I picked up, pretty much as an afterthought before heading to checkout, was a Blue Porterweed that was sitting in a collection of "Butterfly friendly" plants. Upon getting it home and reading up on this plant, I started to fear I might actually have the invasive porterweed rather than the native. And after reading up on all the differences and things to look for, it appears it is indeed the Category II invasive. It strikes me as odd and wrong that as big as UF is about avoiding invasive plants, one of their extension offices sells Cat II's. So I guess I will keep it potted instead of planting it in the landscape. On a hopeful side, they're supposed to be rather tender to freezing temps and are only 'recommended' for South Florida. So hopefully the winters will help cull any reseeds.

But along with this, of all the Master Gardeners on duty that day, only two were able to actually answer the questions I had. They had their Plant Clinic trailer set up, but each time I came to them with a plant asking for information or clarification on species, they would shrug, say "I don't know" and direct me to the Master Gardener who would help me with my questions. The other knowledgeable person wasn't actually a 'MG' but was the Ext. Office's Residential Horticulturalist. Both of these people were indeed very, very helpful. I just wish I could say the same about the other 'Master' Gardeners.

Luckily, I have been to the Ext. Office before this sale and I know how helpful they really can be. But if this had been my first time dealing with them... well... I think next time I attend one of their sales, I'm going to stick to ONLY the plants that I 90% sure about and avoid any impulse purchases.

Edit: Oh, and of the plants I picked up there: 1 Porterweed, 1 clump of Muhly grass (easily dividable into four clumps), 2 red Pentas (the tall variety that butterflies just can't seem to get enough of), a pot of pineapple sage and two Wild Coffees (which will also have to remain potted to protect them during cold winters).

This post was edited by Leekle2ManE on Tue, Oct 15, 13 at 21:56

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Same thing happened to me early this year. I went to the County Extension sale and bought this plant on impulse - Jewels of Opar - a lovely plant, but after online researching found out it is very invasive. I still have it in a pot but keeping an eye on it. I bought that and a Turk's Cap only to support their effort. The staff on hand were very informative here also, so I guess we have to take the good with the bad.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 6:03AM
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It was my understand that the blue porterweed was the native and that it is invasive. I got it once and it made seedlings every where. Now I have had the purple and it never made seedlings, nor did the coral or red one.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 7:01AM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

There are two blue porterweeds: Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (The arguable native [Some think it might be naturalized from the Caribbean rather than actually native, but that's a debate for horticultural anthropologists]) and S. cayennensis (the chinese exotic). They are very similar to each other in appearance in most respects. Descriptions say that S. cayennensis has darker blooms, but from the pictures I've seen of both, they are only slightly darker. The one aspect that supposedly really sets the two apart is manner of growth. S. jamaicensis is a low growing sprawling plant getting only as high as 2-3 ft and S. cayennensis is an upright growing plant with a 'definitive trunk' that grows up to 3-5 ft. Since the one I have is already pushing over 3 ft in height and has a 'definitive trunk', it looks like I have the latter. There's also supposed to be a difference in the leaves, but I can't see it in the pictures I've viewed.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 8:35AM
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I didn't realize there were two porterweeds, so that is good info, thanks. The one I had was the low growing one, which was the native and it made seedlings everywhere. Since I am in south Fl, I don't often get a frost to kill off any seeds so everything reseeds for me, most times too much. I couldn't grow the muhly grass either because it seeded all over as well. I am sure glad I didn't have the invasive one, seeing what the native one did.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 8:50AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Not sure if potting it will keep it in check - the seeds seem to travel far from the plants. On the plus side, seedlings come up easily when pulled & are easy to recognize as well.

Speaking from experience here - I have some growing in a walled butterfly garden @ work, luckily the seeds don't seem to be able to travel beyond the walls, but I'm constantly pulling seedlings. A great butterfly magnet too.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 9:47AM
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coffeemom(Broward z10)

I have both kinds of porterweed in Broward. I have never seen a butterfly on the low growing one. I'm ready to pull it out. They do like the larger plant. I haven't found it to be invasive. Just my opinion.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 8:54PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F
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