If you are not familiar with lantana as a summer plant, I am here to tell you there’s no way to go wrong with these invincible blooms. Lantana falls into three separate categories- upright, compact, and trailing. The upright plants can grow from 2-5 ft and spread just as wide. These are a great choice if you want to take up a good bit of space in your garden. However, the trailing is usually a mid-size plant. The compact plants won’t get near as large and are well-suited for small spaces and containers.
Are you new to the gardening scene? Then lantana is the perfect starting point. Best grown in full sun, it can take the scorching heat and even prefers to be left a bit dry. So, if you are not the most diligent gardener, pick up some lantana first! However, if you are new and try too hard, your lantana may complain. Overwatering is the biggest problem your lantana will have. When left in damp conditions, this can lead to root rot or disease that in turn, could lead to the demise of the plant.
Lantana can be perennial or annual. It all depends on your climate. Lantana is native to the tropical climates of the southern Gulf states and Mexico. It is usually grown as a perennial as far north as Zone 8. Here in Zone 7, some varieties are treated as tender perennials. such as ‘Miss Huff’ and ‘Chapel Hill’. Plant your lantana after the average frost date in your area. Perennial lantana often returns from the root system, so mulching for winter can help to protect that system from cold temps. Do not cut back until all leaves have turned brown. then cut back to 12″. After new growth emerges in spring, cut back to where the new growth starts.
Lantanas have very few pest problems. The spicy scent that is given off by the plants helps to deter both insects and mammal pests. As far as disease goes, you shouldn’t have any issues unless it is a particularly wet summer or your soil is not well drained. Whenever you leave them in a damp environment, it can lead to mildew and root rot. Hence, well-drained soil is recommended
Plant sterile varieties to achieve the best bloom show. Sterile plants will not rush to produce seed so this enables the plant to concentrate on its spectacular show all summer. Non-sterile plants will produce seed pods and can cause unwanted spreading. In tropical climates, these plants are considered invasive and are treated as weeds in some citrus groves and landscapes. In our area (Zone 7) it is not likely there will be any lantana invasion! So, planting the non-sterile varieties should not be a problem. When left to go to seed, they help to feed the bird population! So, you choose, blooms or birds? Sterile varieties include- Gold Mound and New Gold and any of the Bloomify or Patriot series.
Did you know, Lantanas are a superb attractor of pollinators? Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies all love a good lantana. The bright colors, sweet spicy smell, and tubular blooms make a perfect pit stop for many of the pollinators that keep the airways busy in and around the garden.
Overall, lantana really can’t be beaten. Its love of the heat and dry conditions almost ensures success in your garden. Just keep in mind that you should probably plant lantana with other plants that prefer the dry or by itself. If you try to make it get along well in a wetter environment you will find disappointment. Plant your water lovers together and your arid friends separately together… you got that, right? I’m sure I made that as clear as muddy water! But, you get the gist.