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How to Grow: Lantana
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Mid summer until fall in colors such as red, orange, yellow, violet, white and pink and many bi and tri colors.
Mature Height x Spread
1 to 2 feet x 1 to 4 feet
Attracts hummingbirds, attracts beneficials, drought tolerant, deer resistant
If you’re looking for the beach baby of the annual world, consider lantana. This shrubby plant is a perennial in warmer climates, but an annual in New England. Because of our short growing season, lantana never reaches shrub-like proportions. There are also weeping types that grow well in hanging baskets and containers. It loves the sun and heat producing verbena-like flowers all summer until frost. The color selection of the flowers has expanded in a range of many colors from white to red. However, the most striking varieties have two or even three colors on each flower. They’re drought resistant so can be planted in containers or in garden hot spots to add color to tough to grow locations.
Where, When and How to Plant
Since lantana seed are hard to germinate and can take more than 3 months to grow indoors before transplanting, it’s easiest to purchase transplants from a local garden center. Plant seedlings outdoors after all danger of frost has passed about the same time you’d be planting basil. Lantana grows best in full sun and can have disease problems if grown in part shade. Plant in compost- amended, well-drained soil or containers filled with potting soil. Space plants 1 to 2 feet apart depending on the variety.
Lantana is drought tolerant once established, but needs adequate moisture for the first few weeks to get established. Keep well watered and mulched when young. Fertilize monthly with a complete organic fertilizer to keep the flowers producing.
Regional Advice and Care
Cut back leggy plants, especially on the weeping types, in midsummer to encourage a bushier plant and more blooms. Plants grown in part shade can develop powdery mildew disease so plant in full sun beds or containers. Since lantana is a heat lover, plant in microclimates, such as next to south-facing stone walls or a building, to get the most growth in one season.
Companion Planting and Design
While the flowers are colorful, the green foliage can have a pungent smell when rubbed. Plant lantana in containers or beds where the foliage won’t be frequently rubbed. These showy flowers are best planted together in a group of multiple lantana varieties to create a rainbow effect of color. Because they’re so brightly colored, lantana also looks good paired with dark foliaged plants, such as sweet potato vine and scented geraniums. They also are butterfly magnets, so plant where they are easy to view.
The ‘Lucky’ series features yellow, orange, red and bi-colored varieties on dwarf plants that only grow 1 foot wide and tall. They’re prefect for small containers and window boxes. ‘Ham and Eggs’ is a shrubby, older variety of lantana that has pink, fading to yellow and orange, colored flowers. ‘Samantha’ has variegated white and green leaves to go with yellow flowers.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.