And the winner is: Lantana
Lantana has a rich history of being utilized in the garden for long-lasting, colorful blooms, superior heat tolerance and the ability to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Featuring clusters of bright colors, solid as well as multi-color, Lantana can be used in containers, landscaping and hanging baskets.
In the 18th century, lantana was a popular greenhouse plant in Europe and breeding efforts were extensive, resulting in hundreds of available selections.
There are 150 species of lantana in the verbena family (Verbenaceae) and the most commonly used ornamental selection is Lantana camara. Hardy to zone 8, this plant can be a perennial (tender perennial in zone 7) or even a medium shrub in frost-free locations. It is most commonly used as an annual in colder areas.
Looking to attract butterflies in your garden? You can’t go wrong with Lantanas!
Lantana is a must-have for creating a pollinator haven. These plants are REALLY attractive to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds on so many levels: sweet nectar for food, attractive scent, bright color, and the overall flower form (it’s a literal landing pad!).
These flat-topped “landing pad” flowers consist of clusters of tubular blooms that together make an umbel flower form. Lantana flowers come in single or multiple colors. Multiple colored lantana flowers change color as they mature. The newest flowers, opening in the center of the umbel, are one color that changes as they mature and move to the outer edges of the cluster. This maturation of the flowers within the umbel can lead to two or even three-toned flowers. The flowers come primarily in shades of red, orange, yellow, white, pink, purple or lavender and often have a slight, spicy flower fragrance.
Ready for the Heat and Drought!
Want a flower that keeps on flowering throughout the summer in scorching heat and dry conditions? Then Lantana is the perfect plant to grow in your garden and containers!
These plants love the heat and like to be kept on the drier side. They do best in full sun and well-drained soil and hate to be overwatered.
Breeders have recently introduced sterile, or near sterile, Lantana, which means the plant never sets seed, so they continue to bloom and bloom and bloom through the entire season! So, when that heat kicks up, these sterile varieties won’t set seed or cycle out of flower. (setting seed usually means the end of flowering).
New sterile varieties to look for include ‘Gold Mound’, Hot Blooded™, ‘New Gold’, ‘Alba’, Patriot™ Series, Sunburst™ Series, and the Bloomify™ Series.
Compact or Trailing
Lantanas fall roughly into two forms: compact or trailing. Compact, mounding plants are readily available and perfect for small spaces and containers. Trailing forms, which can spread up to three feet, are ideal to economically fill in larger areas with an impressive display of color. When purchasing your Lantana, always consider the final plant size as some can get quite large.
Home Gardening Tips
- Continuous blooms and easy care make Lantana perfect for those new to gardening.
- Lantanas grow best with at least 8 hours of full sun and in a variety of well-drained soil (they do tolerate salt). Avoid overwatering or placing them in poorly drained locations.
- In the spring, home gardeners will find Lantana plants at their local garden retailers and through some plant catalog companies.
- In colder climates, plant after the threat of frost has passed and ideally after the soil has warmed.
- Very few diseases are found. Powdery mildew may become an occasional issue, particularly during cool, wet summers and in situations where proper air circulation isn’t available. Root rot and sooty mold will occasionally become factors in overly damp situations as well.
- Relatively insect-free.
- Overfertilization may result in more stem and foliage growth at the expense of flower production.
- Deadhead (removing spent blooms) regularly to keep the plant tidy and neat.
- If your plant becomes overgrown, prune it back severely to maintain a more compact form.
- Deer and rabbits avoid Lantana because of the “disagreeable odor” of the leaves
Enjoy these and many other plants this Spring at Burger Farm and Garden