If you are looking for a beautiful, sun-loving annual for your garden beds or containers, consider lantana. Unlike most annuals that prefer a bit of shade, lantana is a full sun lover! It is also drought tolerant once it has matured, making lantana a pretty and practical choice.
Lantana’s tropical looking flowers range in shades of yellows, reds, pinks, purples, and white. Its wide dark green foliage helps to create a lovely contrast to the clustering habit of the colorful flowers. And with upright as well as trailing or creeping varieties to choose from, there is sure to be at least one that will fit your needs.
Lantana is native to Central and South America. With the heat and sunshine it enjoys in its home environment, it is a perennial evergreen. In the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 10 and 11, it can be grown as a perennial, too. For most of us in the U.S., lantana will grow as an annual that won’t tolerate the slightest touch of frost.
Plan on adding lantana to your garden area well after the last expected frost in your region. Lantana is best propagated from transplants or from cuttings. Transplants can be purchased at your local big name hardware stores, as well as, smaller specialty nurseries.
To propagate your lantana from a cutting, snip off a four inch shoot from a healthy plant. Strip any blossoms off of your cutting. Remove all but the top set of leaves, too. Dip your freshly cut tip into a powdered rooting hormone. Plug your cutting upright into a tray filled with a mix of peat moss and soil. Water your cutting thoroughly, and cover it to keep the new plant warm. Check the soil around your cutting to make sure it is moist at all times. Once the cutting has developed new growth, which might take up to 4 weeks, transplant outdoors.
Plant your lantana in a sunny spot. It will appreciate well draining soil. Water your young plants often. Once your lantana is mature, a thorough watering once a week will keep your lantana happy and productive.
Speaking of productive, your lantana does not require fertilizer to keep it bursting in blooms. In fact, too much fertilizer or too much water will cause your plant to produce less. Light pruning and deadheading will keep your lantana blossoming. If your perennial lantana has slowed production, you can prune as much as one third of the plant back to stimulate new flowers.
Lantana is a deer resistant beauty. At the same time, it provides a haven for hummingbirds and butterflies.
Lantana Pests and Problems
Lantana is a hardy plant that is not prone to many pests or problems. It will succumb to powdery mildew and root rot if overwatered and under heated. Allow your lantana elbowroom for good air circulation.
Some lantana plants are fast growing. In fact, lantana is so happy growing as a perennial in Florida and in Georgia; it has made its unfortunate spot on the invasive plants list. If you live in the warmer regions of the U.S., be mindful of some of the varieties’ rapid growth habits and carefully consider whether or not this plant is appropriate for your area. Horticulturists have worked to develop lantana plants that grow more compactly.
Also, prior to the newest cultivars, some lantana plants develop poisonous berries after blooming. The berries of some lantana need to be picked before the plant will blossom again.
Lantana Varieties to Try
Some types of lantana can grow into very large shrubs while others are smaller and well suited for containers or small spaces. Be sure to understand what type of lantana you are growing! Here are a few noteworthy choices:
‘Weeping lavender’ is a fragrant, low spreading, trailing variety. The flowers are sterile and will not produce berries. This ensures constant blooms. It is perfect for containers and hanging pots.
‘Texas Flame’ forms a compact bush. It is the reddest lantana available.
‘Lemon Swirl’ is a lovely bush even without flowers. Its compact size and variegated leaves support bright yellow, sterile blooms.
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