If you’re looking for a blooming powerhouse, lantana is your answer. This perennial deciduous plant, not only thrives with little moisture, but it does so with low effort. As spring is in full force, lantana is a beautiful plant to grow in your yard or garden. To understand the details and care for this plant, Neal Hargle, CountyExtension agent for Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests, discusses the different varieties and ways to maintain lantana.
Easy to Grow
“Lantana is one of the easier plants to grow,” said Hargle. “Plant in the spring after the last frost. Make sure the newly planted lantana gets plenty of water. Keep the soil moist.” There are about 150 species of lantana, with a full view of the sun being the best location for growth and survival. Lantana is a great choice of plant if you want to attract butterflies, or just need to add a bright splash of color to your garden. Lantana is covered with between two and three inches of clustered blossoms each summer. As the flowers grow in age, their blossoms change colors, which creates an ombré effect.
Pruning during the summer is an important part of maintaining lantana. “Cutting the tip growth will encourage new blooms,” said Hargle. “You can start the pruning back hard in the spring to get rid of old growth. Do not let the plant get too dry, because even though it is a good drought tolerant plant, drought can inhibit blooms.”
Even though lantana is a low maintenance plant, problems can arise if planted in the wrong location.
“Some of the problems could be sooty mold, root rot and powdery mildew if planted in too much shade,” said Hargle. “Insects such as caterpillars, lace bugs and mites cause issues as well.”
Lantana will grow best in shallow clay soils during the hot summer months. This plant is not native to Florida, but has become established there due to the warm temperatures and climate. They are salt-tolerant, which makes them abundant in beach communities. Along with gardens, many people choose to grow the plant in hanging pots, because their vine-like branches can spill over the side.
While beautiful to the human eye, lantana can be poisonous to animals. “It has a pungent aroma and taste that usually will deter animals,” claimed Hargle. “Lantana contains a toxin called lantadene. If an animal ingests too much of the foliage of this plant they can be diagnosed with lantana toxicosis. Signs of this could be sluggish, bloody diarrhea and loss of appetite.”
Overall, lantana is one of the most popular flowering shrubs and provides a colorful palette to any home garden or community near the coast.