AUBURN, Ala.—If you’re looking for a blooming powerhouse, lantana is your answer. This perennial flowering woody deciduous plant, not only thrives with little moisture, but it does so with low effort. As summer settles in full force, lantana brightens yards and landscapes across the Southeast. Neal Hargle, an Alabama Extension home grounds says most people find it easy to grow 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. It attracts butterflies and can add a bright splash of color to your garden. Clustered blooms reach two and three inches. As the flowers age, their blossoms change colors, creating 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. Even though it is drought tolerant plant, dry conditions can inhibit blooms.”
Even though it is low maintenance, problems can arise if planted in the wrong location. “Some problems could be sooty mold, root rot and powdery mildew if planted in too much shade,” he said . “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.
Poisonous to Animals
While beautiful to the human eye, lantana can be poisonous to animals. “It has a pungent aroma and taste that usually will deter animals,” said 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.”
Hummingbird photo by Chuck Stone/Shutterstock.com
Lantana bloom close-up in story by Shulevskyy Volodymyr/Shutterstock.com
Featured image by Primist/Shutterstock.com