Colorful Lantana Loves Full Sun:
Low Maintenance "King"
of the Butterfly Garden
Hardy Lantana is a rewarding plant to grow in North Florida gardens. Fast growing, it loves full sun, is drought tolerant once established, and is attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds and honey bees.
Flowers are prolific from the first warmth of summer until frost. And for those avid gardeners whose best efforts become a smörgåsbord for deer, it is a deer resistant plant.
Lantana tolerates most soil types well. Some tolerate salt spray and are grown in coastal areas all around the Gulf Coast.
Lantana is a low maintenance plant and is perfect for creating an English Cottage Garden in the landscape. They require little care other than a good pruning in the fall to encourage more compact growth in the spring. They should be pruned to a height of 6″ to 10″.
Lantana come in many colors and sizes. Highly aromatic, the flower clusters are a mix of red, orange, pink and yellow or blue and white. The colors of some varieties change as they mature, resulting in bi-color or even tri-color blossoms.
The various species range in size from short, 12″ border plants to 6′ x 6′ towering specimens for a backdrop in the garden. Some, like the L. montevidensis have a more vine-like trailing habit and are suitable either as a ground cover or for hanging baskets.
Taxonomy and Hardiness
Lantana are a large genus of about 150 species of perennial shrubs in the Verbena family (Verbenaceae), and are native to South Florida, South America and South Africa. Officially classified as tropical and tender perennials, they can be grown in zones 2 – 11. However, they are only evergreen and perennial in zones 9 – 11. Most become deciduous at 28°.
Sun and Soil Requirements
Lantana prefer full sun. They tolerate partial shade but will easily become more leggy and produce less flowers. They prefer a well drained, light soil and are drought tolerant once established. Though not picky about the soil type, Lantana do not like it too rich.
Wildlife attracted by Lantana Plants
Butterflies love Lantana flowers, especially the swallowtail and the birdwing butterflies. The colorful Milkweed butterflies (Danainae) and Heleconiinae also feed on this plant. Even hummingbirds sip nectar from the abundant flowers.
Lantana are also useful as honey plants, giving valuable nectar to the bees. Often the L. lilacina and the L. trifolia are used for this purpose. The ripe fruit is a delicacy to many birds.
One creature you won’t find dining on a buffet of Lantana is the deer. It is a deer resistant plant.
Even the most beautiful of flowers sometimes have negative characteristics. Some varieties of Lantana can be invasive in warm tropical climates. In addition, the leaves contain substances that can be toxic to grazing animals or pets, as well as cause rashes. Eating the unripe berries can be fatal. Be sure to caution young children appropriately.
Lantana can be propagated either by seed or by woody stem cuttings.
Choose your Lantana carefully to fit the “look” you wish to achieve in the garden. Some are more suitable to backdrops, others as borders or hanging baskets. Most varieties are hybrids of either the L. camara or the L. montevidensis. Pictures and descriptions of commonly available varieties for our area can be found in the slider below.
Lantana Camara is one of the most prolific of the Lantana family. Reaching heights up to 6′ tall, L. camara can spread as much as 8′ in diameter. Some are as compact as 2′ tall like the “New Gold”, a seedless golden yellow hybrid that is 16″ to 24″ tall. The colors of this species are reds, yellows, pinks and roses, whites and oranges, and many combinations in between. It is a non-stop bloomer. Leaves can be 2-5” long. This one also tolerates salt spray.
Lantana Montevidensis is called Weeping Lantana. It grows 6” to as much as 2′ tall with 5′ trailing branches bearing myriads of small flowers. The most common color is lilac. It can also be found in “White” and “Christine” (a yellow / magenta blend good only in zones 10 & 11). Leaves of this variety are only about an inch long. Great for a hanging basket or as a ground cover. A native of South America, it is being cultivated in many areas of the South.
Lantana Achyranthifolia is a soft purple color that only grows in Texas, NM, and Arizona.
Lantana Involucrata, is also called Buttonsage. Its downy, oval leaves have toothed edges and It grows to about 3 feet tall. It has clusters of small, fragrant white and lavender flowers, followed by purple fruit. It is a native of both South Florida and South America. It loves full sun and dry soil.
Lantana Camara Bandana™ series comes in 5 colors: pink, rose, red, orange sunrise, and cherry. They are low growing and compact at 12-18" high, with a uniform mounding habit. Flowers are rather large but set little or no seeds. Patented by Fischer USA.
This is Lantana Camara Bandana™ Pink. Photo courtesy of Proven Winners.
This is Lantana Camara Bandana™ Rose. Photo courtesy of Grandiflora.
This is Lantana Camara Bandana™ Red. Photo courtesy of Proven Winners.
This is Lantana Camara Bandana™ Orange Sunrise. Photo courtesy of Grandiflora.
This is Lantana Camara Bandana™ Cherry. Photo courtesy of Proven Winners.
Weeping Lantana comes in 3 colors: purple, white and purple with variegated leaves. Plants grow 12-15" height, 3-4' wide, and blooms almost year around. (Photos courtesy Grandiflora.)
Lantana Camara Dallas Red grows 3 to 4' tall with large, dark green leaves.
Plants are smothered in mostly red flowers with some yellow and orange. Photo courtesy of Grandiflora.
Lantana Camara Silver Mound is a dwarf, compact mounding variety growing only 16 to 18" high. White with pale yellow centers, it looks luscious planted next to the Gold Mound variety. (Silver Mound photo courtesy of Grandiflora. Gold Mound photo courtesy of John Novak.)
3 pretty yellows
Here are 3 shades of yellow Lantana Camara, all medium sized at 2 to 3' tall.
This is Lantana Camara Samantha. Sporting slightly variegated leaves on a 2 - 3' plant, it has soft, golden yellow flowers. Photo courtesy of Grandiflora.
This is Lantana Camara Lola. Another 2 - 3' upright growing plant, it has pure butter yellow blossoms. Photo courtesy of Grandiflora.
Lantana Camara Lemon Drop only reaches 2' height maximum and is similar in size to the Silver Mound. Flowers are a pale yellow. Photo courtesy of Grandiflora.
Lantana Camara Miss Tara™ is a prolific bloomer and is especially attractive to hummingbirds. Plants grow 3-4' high. Flowers emerge gold and age to reddish orange and finally to pink. (Photos courtesy Grandiflora.)
Lantana Camara Pink Crush has vibrant pink and yellow flowers on a medium green foliage. Plants grow 3-4' high and are rather compact. (Photos courtesy Grandiflora.)
University of Texas at Austin Native Plant Database: Lantana Involucrata
USDA Plants Database: Lantana
Floridata: Lantana Camara
Floridata: Lantana Montevidensis
Top image courtesy of: Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database