Mastering Lantana care is not difficult. These sun-loving plants produce flowers in abundance, rewarding you with lots of color.
For a bright patio with lots of sun, lantanas are made to order. They are basically tropical plants requiring lots of warmth.
Plant them in your outdoor garden as soon as all danger of frost is past.
In warm areas where frost seldom if ever occurs, the lantana plant can be grown all year in the garden. There they will bloom constantly, needing only occasional trimming.
Lantana Plants Verbena Relatives
Lantanas belong to the verbena family. They grow much taller than the well-known annual verbena, but the small clusters of tubular flowers are similar, and they bloom as freely. The flowers may be red, orange, yellow, white, pink or lavender.
One variety has yellow blossoms that turn to orange as they age. This bicolor effect is striking.
Size and Growth Rate
Lantana is a woody, deciduous, perennial which produces rather bushy growth. The foliage is rough to the touch, but as a whole it gives a bank of pleasing deep green.
Lantana is available in garden centers around May. Planting outdoors depends on weather, since plants cannot handle frost.
When growing lantana it is best to know what your use for the plant will be since there are basically two types.
Some lantana varieties are better suited for use primarily as a ground cover, as bedding plants or even in baskets, reaching height of 16 to 30 inches.
Good in Tubs
Another varieties are better suited for growing in tubs o large pots. If allowed to grow, they can reach heights of 5 to 7 feet. When grown as a “standard” a lantana tree makes for very attractive container subjects on a terrace or a front entry.
If you have room in a greenhouse or sun room to over winter them, growing lantana in decorative tub or large pot is the way to go.
To start a lantana tree, plant a small plant in spring, into a larger container. Begin shaping the tree as soon as new growth begins. Attach the stem (sometimes multiple stems) to a support like a bamboo stake, then begin trimming away any new side shoots.
Flowering and Fragrance
Lantana have squarish stems, rough leaves with a tooth-edge. From the stem tips clusters of tubular individual flowers with a small collar begin showing up starting in June continuing until the first frost burns it back.
To keep the flowers coming, pick off seed balls – or dead flowers before they form seed.
Older mature plants will bloom best, with colors ranging from orange-red, pink, yellow, purple, violet and bi-colors.
The plant carries an overall spicy fragrance.
Light and Temperature
Growing lantana in a warm, sunny position, like a west or south facing patio, will produce the best looking plants, with lots of flowers.
They will withstand the first light frosts of fall, but if you want to keep your old plants over for another season, dig them. Prune back roots and tops severely and pot in a moist potting mix like Miracle Gro.
Lantanas can be wintered in a cool, sunny window with the soil kept on the dry side (but never completely dry).
Watering and Feeding
Throughout the entire growing season water regularly. Lantana should never dry out.
In the spring when new growth begins, fertilize lighting using a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. A second application may be required during mid-summer. Lantanas respond well to liquid and slow release fertilizers.
Be careful NOT TO OVER FERTILIZE as lantana plants many then produce excessive growth, weak stems and few blooms.
Soil and Transplanting
Lantanas adapt to most soil conditions that bedding plants would grow in but like a slightly acid (6.5 or lower), well-drained soil.
If planting in the ground with a heavy clay soil, sand or a coarse bark my need to the added and thoroughly incorporated. If potted or planted in baskets a bagged commercial potting mix can be used.
Pruning and Grooming
Keep your lantana in shape with selective pruning, removing old spent flowers, long or withered stems and unattractive branches.
Growing plants trained and shaped into a tree form makes for an attractive patio specimen.
Whether or not to pinch growing tips is your choice. Pinching encourages branching and production of flowering stems. Unpinched, the stems will trail and droop to greater lengths, with plentiful flowers.
Propagation is best done from cuttings but they can also be grown from seed.
During the outdoor season, lantana plants may grow into small shrubs as tall as four feet and sometimes more. In this case, it will be easier to take cuttings in August than to pot the oversize plants.
Select cuttings with leaf joints close together. Make each three or four inches in length, and when you cut, take a heel of wood from the main stem.
To root the cuttings, first fill a small pot with moist, clean, gritty sand or perlite. Two parts sand (or perlite) and one part soil may be used, but there is less danger of fungus trouble if sand or perlite is used.
Remove the leaves from the lowest node, and set each cutting deep enough to cover the heel and the lowest node.
While Roots Are Forming
After planting, the cuttings may be covered with a glass jar, or the entire container may be slipped into a plastic bag. Set the container in a shaded, protected place, perhaps under shrubbery.
Keep the rooting medium slightly moist. Unless the weather is unusually warm and dry, remove the jars for a while each day, or leave the plastic bag opened; this fresh air encourages healthy growth.
When cuttings have rooted, pot in moist soil as outlined earlier.
Start your lantana collection by picking up plants at the garden center or ordering new varieties online in the spring. At the garden center look of bushy plants, stiff stems and lots of buds.
Uses In The Landscape
Lantana is a wonderful and very colorful decorative plant for outdoor use on the patio or balcony. It can be grown as a potted tree, or planted as a bush and allowing the stems to spill over.
The small ground cover varieties work well when planted in mass.
In my garden, lantanas have solved a seemingly hopeless problem spot—the space between a sidewalk and foundation, facing south.
It is not only hot but often dry. After a few weeks in late spring and early summer, when the young plants are
getting established, they thrive in this difficult situation.
After a summer of outdoor flowering, trim back the most woody stems when the pot or basket is moved indoors to winter quarters, for fresh new growth.
Or store the pot in a cool (40 degrees) spot and keep it just barely moist, the plant half-dormant and leafless, until late March or April – then start it growing again. This is the time to do important annual pruning.
Ruthlessly cutting back the entire top growth to six or seven inches will reward you with a brand-new, well-shaped plant for summer, with an abundance of the new wood on which the lantana produces flowers.
Below are a few of the dozens of Lantanas available today.
Lantana ‘Confetti Tricolor’ – An excellent tricolor. The individual flowers in each cluster are yellow, pink, and a blending of purple. The effect is that of confetti on a green carpet.
Lantana ‘Cream Carpet’ – The masses of flowers are a heavy cream color centered yellow at the throat. The leaves are a particularly lush green and are very heavily produced.
Lantana ‘Gold Rush’ – Masses of solid gold.
Lantana ‘Pink Frolic’ – Some of the flowers in the large clusters are creamy with a yellow throat, but most are two-tone pink.
Lantana ‘Spreading Sunset’ – Vividly colored yellow-and-red flowers; leaves are a very dark green.
Lantana ‘Sunburst’ – About the brightest solid yellow clusters – and large ones, too.
Lantanas Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds show their approval of lantana plantings at certain seasons by coming regularly during the early morning and late afternoon for nectar. For a thrill, note the hours they come and sit quietly near the lantanas.
Common Name: Weeping, Trailing Lantana