Plant Spotlight On: Lantana

Lantana (Lantana camara) is a drought tolerant fragrant plant with a branching habit that is known to be a shrubby perennial in the southern states. In the East, North, and Midwest, lantana is a well-controlled window box, container, and bedding plant with an intense love of the hot summer. Its blooms are adored by butterflies, hummingbirds, and hummingbird moths and can come in yellow, red, orange, pink, white, and mixed clusters of flowers all season long. Lantana has the most amazing clusters of intensely colored showy cymes that are captivating in the garden.

While beneficial insects love this plant, its one drawback is that it is quite toxic to dogs, cats, and humans if eaten. Lantana prefers full direct sun and can survive both outdoors and in. However, it will not flower as well if placed in less sunny conditions. Plant lantana with drought tolerant companion plants such as euphorbia, English lavender, and dusty miller in a container or window box. It works as an excellent low maintenance groundcover and can be spectacular featured along a walkway.

When, Where, and How to Plant

Frost and cold sensitive, lantana not only requires warmer growing conditions, it thrives in hot, dry spots in your garden. As drought tolerant, be sure to plant in a very well-drained soil that has been amended with plenty of organic matter, mulching well. Lantana prefers acid soils, but really do quite well in most all soils if it is well drained. Mix oak leaves in with your bed to help raise the acidity of your soil. Deer and rabbit resistant.

Growing Tips

Water well until acclimated in the planting hole, however, do not over-water as the plant does better with dry conditions. Let it dry between watering. Fertilizer is not strictly required although adding an organic fertilizer once or twice mid-season will not harm the plant. Trim back or pinch plants to encourage branching at any time throughout the growing period, although deadheading is not required.

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