Richard Bogren, Gill, Daniel J. | 4/3/2013 12:35:24 AM
For Release On Or After 04/19/13
By Dan Gill
Lantana (Lantana camara) is one of the first flowers I became aware of as a young child in Chalmette. After all, who could resist a plant so perfectly named with the common name “ham and eggs”?
The flowers of lantanas are produced in flat or slightly rounded clusters and have the remarkable ability to change color dramatically as they age. In the old-fashioned ham and eggs, the flowers open creamy white with a yellow center – looking much like a sunny-side-up fried egg. As they age, the flowers turn as pink as a slice of ham. So, in every flower cluster you have a center of yellow flowers surrounded by pink flowers.
Lantanas have come a long way from the tall, rangy, pink-and-yellow-flowered ham and eggs plants I remember from my childhood. New varieties expand the color range of the flowers and include plants that are more attractive and compact and produce more flowers over a longer season.
The hot, dog days of summer are when lantanas really show off. When many other plants languish in the heat, lantanas produce a continuous display of flowers until fall. Other nice features are that they are practically free of insect and disease problems, and they attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden.
Growth habit of lantanas can include a wide range of shapes, from trailing to mounding to upright.
Trailing lantanas, Lantana montevidensis, are a different species from more traditional lantanas. Trailing lantana is a low-growing, sprawling plant. It reaches a height of 18 inches and spreads 3 feet wide. The clusters of flowers are purple, lavender or pure white. This species is excellent as a ground cover, in hanging baskets or allowed to weave its way up a hurricane fence or lattice panel. Its appearance is overall more delicate and less coarse than Lantana camara.
Lantana camara and hybrids provide the mounding and upright varieties more commonly used in Louisiana landscapes
Upright growers, including the old ham-and-egg-type lantanas, can reach 4 to 5 feet tall or larger in one growing season. Varieties include Irene, Dallas Red, Miss Huff and Confetti. These varieties are spectacular when planted in front of tall shrubs, a wall or a fence, or in the back of a flower bed.
Mounding lantanas reach 24 to 30 inches tall and wide, and a number of excellent mounding varieties have been developed. These lantanas, such as New Gold, Gold Mound and Silver Mound, are more compact and a big improvement over older types. But they are still vigorous growers that can get out of bounds in garden beds, containers and hanging baskets.
Bandana series lantana
A new series of lantanas called the Bandana series is a dramatic step forward in developing compact, well-behaved, heavy-flowering lantanas. In LSU AgCenter trials at the Hammond Research Station, Bandana lantanas were notably fuller, more compact and dome shaped than other varieties of lantana.
For its outstanding performance and unique growth habit, the Bandana series lantana has been named a Louisiana Super Plants selection for spring 2013.
The first time I saw Bandana lantanas I had to look twice. I had never seen such well-behaved neat mounds before. And at first I wasn’t sure they were even lantanas. But closer inspection assured me that this compact plant with none of the lankiness often associated with lantanas was the real deal.
Bandana lantana plants grow to be only about 20 inches tall and about 24 inches wide. The foliage is dark green and stays attractive through the summer season. Flower production is continuous, no matter how hot the weather.
The flowers of Bandana lantanas are also notable. First, they are larger than other lantanas. This adds to the ornamental value of the plants. In addition, they come in a variety of outstanding colors, including Bandana Cherry, Bandana Cherry Sunrise, Bandana Lemon Zest, Bandana Light Yellow, Bandana Peach, Bandana Pink, Bandana Red, Bandana Rose, Bandana White and Bandana Trailing Gold.
This last variety is a more vigorous spreading type that will cover a larger area but still stay relatively low. Trailing Gold would be a good choice for hanging baskets or to cascade over a low retaining wall.
You can plant lantanas into sunny, well-drained beds, containers or hanging baskets. Incorporate some general-purpose fertilizer in the bed during preparation and fertilize as needed during summer. Avoid shady areas because this will prevent the plants from blooming properly.
Lantanas are remarkably drought tolerant. This makes them a good choice for pots and baskets as containers tend to dry out rapidly in the heat of summer. And it means you don’t have to fuss over them in flower beds. A 1- to 2-inch layer of your favorite mulch will help conserve moisture and further reduce watering chores. Mulches also help reduce weed problems and keep the garden looking neat.
With its unique growth habit, beautiful flowers and low maintenance requirements, Bandana series lantana is a well-justified and welcome addition to Louisiana Super Plants. Look for it at local nurseries near signs with the Super Plants logo. To see a list of nurseries participating in the Louisiana Super Plants program, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/superplants.