Lantana is one of our most popular herbaceous perennials for home and commercial landscape. Over the last couple of years, many new varieties with new flower colors and growth habits have become available, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.
The horticulturist explains that the growth habit of lantanas can be categorized as trailing, mounding or upright. Trailing types are classified as Lantana montevidensis and typically reach a height of 18 inches. Foliage texture is finer, and flower colors in the trailing types are white, lavender and purple.
Mounding and upright lantanas are primarily classified as Lantana camara. Mounding lantanas reach 30 inches tall, and the upright, which include the old ham and egg type of lantanas, can reach 4-5 feet tall in one growing season.
Owings recommends a number of lantana varieties and their characteristics: New Gold (mounding, gold), Gold Mound (mounding, gold), Silver Mound (mounding, white), Lemon Drop (mounding, lemon), Dallas Red (upright, red), Imperial Purple (trailing, purple), Trailing White (trailing, white) and Trailing Lavender (trailing, lavender).
The newest series of lantanas are the Patriot group, which come in about 15 varieties and are broken down into even more diverse growth habits. Some new flower colors can be found in the Patriot series. Another new series of lantanas are the Son group from Mississippi, which include Sonrise, Sonset, Samson and Sonshine. These varieties have excelled in LSU AgCenter trials, according to Owings.
"Lantanas are great for landscape plants and do well in containers," Owings says, adding, "They perform well on a patio or around the swimming pool if full sun is available most of the day." Water as needed, and fertilize often when growing them in containers.
Lantanas are usually planted beginning in mid-April and can be continually planted through the summer. Garden centers have lantanas available in 3-inch to 4-inch pots. Plant these smaller containers of trailing lantanas on 18-inch centers, and plant mounding and upright lantanas on slightly wider spacing. If you buy gallon containers, plant on 3- to 4-foot centers. Complete coverage of the planted area takes about six weeks.
In a landscape bed, fertilize twice during the growing season, once at planting and again in mid- to late summer. Broadcast a slow-release fertilizer (StaGreen Nursery Special or Osmocote) over the planted area according to label recommendations.
Besides providing landscape color most of the year, lantanas attract butterflies. "Try some this year. You’ll be pleased with the results," Owings says.
For related topics, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com. Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.