Lantana Plant – How To Grow and Care For Lantana Bush, Trees [GUIDE]
The lantana plant, a bright, sun-loving plant, producing flowers in abundance and rewarding you with lots of color.
Mastering lantana care is not difficult. Made to order for any bright patio with lots of direct sun. Lantana plants are basically tropical plants requiring lots of warmth.
Plant the Lantana bush in your outdoor garden as soon as all danger of frost is past.
In warm areas where frost seldom if ever occurs, the lantana plant can grow all year in the garden. Where they will flower constantly, attract hummingbirds, perfect for the butterfly garden and need only occasional trimming.
Lantana Plants Verbena Relatives
Lantanas belong to the verbena family. They grow much taller than the well-known annual verbena, but the small clusters of tubular blooms on this flowering plant look similar, and they bloom as freely. Lantana flowers come in red, orange, yellow, white, pink or lavender.
One variety with yellow flowers turns orange as they age and creates a striking bicolor effect.
Lantana Bush Size and Growth Rate
The woody, deciduous, perennial Lantana produces rather bushy growth which feels rough to the touch. As a whole ornamental Lantana plants will produce a bank of pleasing deep green.
Garden centers begin stocking plants around May, planting outdoors depends on the weather since lantana plants cannot handle frost.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the common Lantana plant variety grows well in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11.
Most Lantana dies back when temperatures fall below 28 degrees (Fahrenheit). Most grow back from their root system when warm weather returns.
Some of the new hardy lantana cultivars grow well in USDA zone 8.
When growing lantana, know the primary use for the plant, since you’ll basically find two types or varieties of Lantana. Upright varieties are varieties better suited for use primarily as a ground cover, as bedding plants or even hanging baskets, reaching a height of 16 to 30 inches.
The Lantana Tree Looks Great In Large Pots Or Tubs
The upright growing varieties, if allowed to grow can reach heights of 5 to 7 feet and look great growing in large tubs or pots. When grown as a “tree form standard” the lantana tree makes for very attractive container subjects on a patio, terrace or a front entry.
If you have room in a greenhouse or sun room to over winter them, growing lantana in a decorative tub or large pot is the way to go.
How To Grow A Lantana Tree
To start a lantana tree, plant a small lantana in spring, into a larger container. Begin shaping the tree as soon as new growth begins.
Attach the stem (sometimes multiple stems) to a support like a bamboo stake, then begin trimming away any new side shoots.
Once the “tree” reaches approximately 30-36 inches, cut out the growing tip to encourage branching.
Continue to remove all growth below the branching top and begin to shape the top of the topiary.
I’ve grown several Lantana trees started from cuttings to a height of 4-5 foot tall and almost 4 foot wide.
This post shares some images on how it’s done, along with some other plants uncommonly grown as a topiary tree form style. This link shows 6 steps for growing a lantana tree.
Cottage Farms Sun Kissed Rose Lantana Patio Tree
The previously recorded video below not represent current pricing and availability. But it gives you some ideas of what a Lantana tree can look like!
Lantana Plants Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds show their approval of lantana plantings at certain seasons by coming regularly during the early morning and late afternoon for nectar. For a thrill, note the hours they come and sit quietly to enjoy near the lantanas.
Lantana Bush Flowering and Fragrance
Who doesn’t want non stop flowers? Flowers that handle heat, drought and do not take a lot of work.
On top of it all, the flowers attract butterflies like a magnet.
However, they may not be deer resistant but deer has a tendency to stay away for Lantana. What plant can deliver all that color? Lantana!
From the stem tips sitting above the plant’s squarish stems, and rough leaves with a tooth-edge, emerge small clusters of tubular individual flowers with a small collar.
Flowers begin showing up, with an overall spicy fragrance when warm weather arrives, with non-stop blooms until the first frost burns it back. To keep the flowers coming, pick off seed balls – or dead flowers before they form seed.
Older mature plants bloom best, with colors ranging from orange-red, pink, yellow, purple, violet and bicolors.
Lantana Care – Light and Temperature
Grow or plant lantana in a warm, sunny position, they do very well in full sun. A west or south facing patio will produce the best-looking plants, with lots of flowers.
They will withstand the first light frosts of fall, but if you want to keep your old plants over for another season, dig them. More in the over-wintering section below.
Growing Lantana – Watering and Fertilizing
Even though the lantana plant is fairly drought tolerant, throughout the entire growing season water regularly. Lantana should never dry out.
In the spring when new growth begins, fertilize lightly using a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.
A second application may be required during mid-summer. Lantanas respond well to a regular liquid fertilizing program and slow release fertilizers.
Be careful NOT TO OVER FERTILIZE as they may then produce excessive growth, weak stems and few blooms.
Lantana Plant Care – Soil and Transplanting
Lantana’s adapt to most soil conditions, use the same as bedding plants would grow in but they like a slightly acid (6.5 or lower), well-drained soil.
If planting in the ground in a heavy clay soil, thoroughly incorporate some sand or a coarse bark. If potted or planted in hanging baskets use a bagged commercial potting mix for best results.
Pruning and Grooming Lantana Trees
Keep your lantana in shape with selective pruning, removing old spent flowers, long or withered stems and unattractive branches.
Growing plants trained and shaped into a tree form makes for an attractive patio specimen.
Pinching encourages branching and production of flowering stems. Unpinched, the stems will trail and droop to greater lengths, with plentiful flowers. Whether or not to pinch growing tips is completely your choice.
Propagating The Lantana Plant
Propagation from rooting a cutting will produce new plants the fastest, they can also grow from seed.
During the outdoor season, lantana plants may grow into small shrubs reaching 4 feet tall and sometimes more. In the case of overwintering, it’s easier to take cuttings in August than to dig and repot oversized plants.
Select cuttings with leaf joints close together. Make each cutting three or four inches in length, and when you cut, take a heel of wood from the main stem.
To root cuttings, first fill a small pot with moist, clean, gritty sand or perlite. I like a 50/50 mix of peat moss and perlite. I find less danger of fungus trouble using peat moss and perlite.
Remove the leaves from the lowest node, and set each cutting deep enough to cover the heel and the lowest node.
While Roots Are Forming
After planting, cover cuttings with a glass jar, or slip the entire container into a plastic bag. Set the container in a shaded, protected place, perhaps under shrubbery or indoors under grow lights.
Keep the rooting medium slightly moist. Unless the weather is unusually warm and dry, remove the jars for a while each day, or leave the plastic bag opened; this fresh air encourages healthy growth. When cuttings root, pot in moist soil as outlined earlier.
Pests On Lantana Plants
Few pests and diseases attack lantana’s, you’ll find them quite bug resistant. However, a handful of pests can impact the plant. Proper cultural practices limit most attacks, early detection and pests identification will speed up treatment and the recovery process.
Aphids – Generally found around the growing tip, buds and undersides of leaves where aphids suck sap from the plant and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew.
Plants heavily infested plants experience leaf drop, leaf yellowing, leaf curling and wilting. Check out this post for getting rid of aphids naturally.
Whiteflies – Small, white insects located on leaf undersides. Both adult and young feed on the plant.
Severe infestation causes leaf drop beginning with yellow leaf spots. Control with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap or other another natural organic insecticide neem spray oil.
Spider Mites – severe infestation during hot, dry periods are found on the undersides of leaves.
Look for plants lacking vigor, leaves showing a yellow to gray cast, and leaf drop. Control with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap and other insecticides.
Lace Bugs – very common pest, feeds on the undersides of leaves, populations grow rapidly with high temperatures (90 degrees Fahrenheit).
On heavily infested plants leaves turn yellow and fall off early. Prune out severely damaged areas, treat with a systemic insecticide like acephate or imidacloprid. Provide sufficient nutrients and water to ensure recovery.
Leaf Miner – Feeds on interior leaves, leaving a whitish trail. Plants can handle a fair amount of injury before plant health comes into question.
Prune and destroy infested branches and foliage. In some areas parasitic wasps help control pests populations. Control with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap and other insecticides.
Mealybugs – Mealybugs “hide” on the undersides of leaves and on stems, with damage similar to aphids.
Treat small outbreaks with a 50-50 spray of water and isopropyl alcohol. For larger infestations control with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap and other insecticides.
Lantana Plant Buying Tips
Start your lantana collection by picking up plants at the garden center or ordering new varieties online in the spring. At the garden center look of bushy plants, stiff stems and lots of buds.
Uses For Lantana Bushes and Trees In The Landscape
Lantana makes a very colorful decorative plant for outdoor use on the patio or balcony.
Grow as a potted tree (my favorite), or planted as a bush and allow the stems to spill over.
The small ground cover varieties work well when planted in mass.
In my garden, lantana’s solved a seemingly hopeless problem spot – the space between a sidewalk and foundation, facing south.
The location stays not only hot but often dry. After planting the young plants and taking a few weeks to become established, they now thrive in this difficult situation.
NOTE: In some areas of the country you’ll find Lantana listed as an invasive species plant.
Overwintering Lantana Plants
After a summer of outdoor flowering, trim back the most woody stems when the pot or basket moves indoors to winter quarters, for fresh new growth.
If digging up plants, prune back roots and tops severely and pot in a moist well-drain soil or potting mix like Miracle Gro. Winter Lantana’s in a cool, sunny window, keeping soil on the dry side (but never completely dry).
Or store the pot in a cool (40 degrees) spot and keep it just barely moist. Keep the plant half-dormant and leafless, until late March or April – then start it growing again.
The all important annual pruning happens when moving plants back outdoors for the growing season.
Ruthlessly cutting back the entire top growth to six or seven inches will reward you with a brand-new, well-shaped plant for summer, with an abundance of the new wood on which the lantana produces flowers.
Below are a few of the dozens of varieties and Lantana species available today. Most can trace their parent back to Lantana camara.
Lantana ‘Confetti Tricolor’ – An excellent tricolor. The individual flowers in each cluster are yellow, pink, and a blending of purple. The effect is that of confetti on a green carpet.
Lantana ‘Cream Carpet’ – The masses of flowers are a heavy cream color centered yellow at the throat. The leaves are a particularly lush green and are very heavily produced.
Lantana ‘Gold Rush’ – Masses of solid gold Lantana flowers.
Lantana ‘Pink Frolic’ – Some of the flowers in the large clusters are creamy with a yellow throat, but most are two-tone pink.
Lantana ‘Spreading Sunset’ – Vividly colored yellow-and-red flowers; leaves are a very dark green.
Lantana ‘Sunburst’ – About the brightest solid yellow clusters – and large ones, too.
Common Name: Weeping, Trailing Lantana