Lantana plants are evergreens of the broadleaf variety. Although they may act a little like vines, they are classified by botanists as shrubs. Because of the vine-like appearance of their branches, they are often grown in hanging pots, which allows their branches to spill over the sides. Lantana plants are known for their rounded clusters of small, brightly colored flowers. The flowers may be yellow, orange, white, red, or purple, and often colors are mixed within the same cluster, creating a bicolored effect. Most people dislike the smell of the flowers that bloom from this plant. But the aroma of their foliage qualifies them as fragrant plants. The leaves have a citrus scent. We many not like the fragrance, but some pollinators do. The flower nectar attracts several species of butterflies including the Spicebush Swallowtail.
Lantana plants are considered noxious weeds and/or invasive plants in many areas without frosts, including in Florida, Arizona, and Hawaii. If you live in a frost-free climate and would like to grow lantana outdoors as a perennial, check with your municipality or a local extension office to see if there are any restrictions on planting this species in your area.
|Botanical Name||Lantana camara|
|Common Name||Lantana, shrub verbena|
|Plant Type||Perennial in zones 8-11; otherwise annual|
|Mature Size||6 feet high and wide (as a perennial)|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil pH||Slightly acid|
|Bloom Time||Year-round in frost-free climates|
|Flower Color||Mix of red, orange, yellow, blue, white, pink|
|Native Areas||Tropical regions of the Americas and Africa|
How to Grow Lantana Plants
Lantana colorful blooms make good specimens plants. They are also used as border shrubs and as ground cover in areas with full sunshine in warm climates. The plants tolerate salt spray very well, making them popular in yards located near the ocean. In colder climates, where lantana plants are treated as annuals, they are commonly found growing in hanging baskets.
These plants are sometimes referred to as "bacon and eggs" or "ham and eggs." The flowers have an almost fluorescent coloring. A lot of lantana plants have petals of different colors growing right next to each other. This forms beautiful bright clusters of colors, combining yellow, orange, pink, and blue. Other types have only solid-colored flowers.
They are sometimes called "verbena bushes" although nurseries selling them in hanging baskets often make a distinction between lantana plants and verbena (the latter also being a popular plant for hanging pots). Evergreen perennials in hot regions, they are more often grown just for the summer months in colder climates. The purple variety (L. montevidensis) is even more vine-like than the rest, and, consequently, makes a better hanging plant.
Gardeners in cold climates sometimes wonder if they can be taken indoors in fall and overwintered as houseplants. The answer is yes and no. Yes, they can be overwintered inside, but they do not thrive as houseplants. It is better to place them in an unheated room for the winter and keep them in a dormant state, providing just minimal light and water. The temperature of the room should not dip much below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lantana plants like full sun or partial sun. The plant should receive at least 6 hours (or more) of direct sunlight every day. It can tolerate some afternoon shade but will flower less if planted in a shady spot.
These plants thrive in well-draining soil. They will grow in most soil conditions but prefer slightly acidic soil.
Water the lantana plant thoroughly and do not let it dry out. With sandy soil, you will likely need to water every day. If blooming has slowed or stopped altogether, try more water.
Temperature and Humidity
Lantana plants may survive in a light frost, but if the temperature dips below 28 degrees Fahrenheit or stays cold for a long time, the plant will die. The plant will thrive in temperatures 55 degrees Fahrenheit or more. The lantana plant is fine with humid weather and can even survive with salt spray.
Lantana plants do not require fertilizer. They are very low-maintenance, and too much fertilizer can decrease the abundance of flowers. If desired, you can feed them with a balanced, gentle 20-20-20 fertilizer every month.
Varieties of Lantana Plants
- Trailing Lantanas (L. montevidensis): These have longer branches (up to 12 inches long) and are popular for baskets or hanging displays.
- Popcorn lantana (Lantana trifolia): This type is known for its relatively small and bright clusters of flowers.
- Wild lantana (Lantana horrida): Found in Texas, these have especially pungent leaves.
- 'Spreading Sunset' (Lantana x 'Monet'): This cultivar has a flower head with gold centers surrounded by orange. This orange color later fades to pink
Toxicity of Lantana Plants
While lovely to look at, growing these flowers in your landscaping has its problems. Besides being invasive in warm climates, lantana plants are toxic and present a danger to children and pets. The leaves can cause a rash and eating the unripe berries can be fatal.
Reproductive Biology and Invasive Potential of Lantana Camara Cultivars. USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Garden Plants Poisonous to People. New South Wales Government Dept. of Primary Industries.