Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lantana: Multiplicity Personified

Lantana camara 'New Gold'

Lantana camara is considered a poisonous, noxious weed in many parts of the world, but the sterile hybrids used in landscapes are innocuous. The ‘New Gold’ is one of the hundreds of cultivars available from which to choose. It seems a new cultivar comes out every day, sometimes developed just for special occasions or in honor of some person, place, or thing.

Flower colors range from yellow to red to lavender and white, and any combination of those colors, sometimes on the same flower head. The cultivars can be of the mounding, spreading, or trailing varieties, and the size can range from compact 1’ x 1’ plants to 8’ x 8’ giant bushes. They are used in a variety of ways, such as in flower beds or as accents, as potted or hanging plants or as a screen. Some cultivars produce poisonous berries, others are sterile. Simply put, with all these choices, it can be a plant for all people, all the time.

Even the scent of the leaves and flowers can differ from cultivar to cultivar. Some find the smell pleasant; others despise it, likening it to everything from gasoline to citrus to cat urine. I would describe the scent of the lantana in my garden as something petroleum--not obnoxious, but not pleasing.

Lantana ‘New Gold’ is an excellent, fast growing ground cover, spreading two to four feet and growing one foot high. Since the ‘New Gold’ cultivar is sterile and doesn’t produce seeds, there is no worry about invasiveness. It has a long bloom period, but looks better if trimmed in late summer, which seems to revive it after the scorching days of mid-July to mid-August. It looks ratty in winter, and its foliage is frost tender, so I just cut it close to the ground in late winter rather than look at it. It comes back quickly in spring and begins flowering in early April, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

In addition to the 20 or so Lantana ‘New Gold’ plants in my garden, I also have several Lantana ‘Radiation’ (yellow and orange flowers) and ‘Confetti’ (yellow to purple flowers) but the ‘New Gold’ performs best. I also have 12 Lantana montevidensis ‘Imperial Purple’, a trailing variety that is a great cool weather performer, but it struggles in the summer heat. The reason I have so many Lantana plants is not for a great love of the genus, it’s only that I needed some quick groundcover to break up the starkness of a new landscape while my other plants developed.

It would be fun to have a cultivar developed and named ‘Water When Dry’, but only if it were free! I suppose a few more in my garden wouldn't hurt anything. I wonder what it would smell like.

27 comments:

RUTH said...

My Lantanas struggle and are no where as big as these specimens and are not hardy here in the UK. I and the insects love them though so I persevere. One that I have comes out on yellow flowers which slowly turn to pink. So pretty :o)

sisah said...

Thank you for visiting me on my blog. Having a look at your "blog-garden" I am overwhelmed, all those plants I will never be able to grow in my middle european garden. I am fascinated, especially of your succulents and all the other heat and draught loving plants.

No Rain said...

Ruth,
The Lantana shown is one of the mid-sized ones in my garden. They get quite large if not trimmed, and I like them growing in a rounded mound, so I do trim twice each summer. The only pest problem here for Lantana is whiteflies, usually in late September.

Sisah,
Glad you like the blog. Come back again.

chigiy at Gardeners Anonymous said...

I have always been intrigued by lantana, but I have never bought it for the reasons you mentioned. The 'new Gold' sounds like the one I should try.
I'm guessing it's drought tolerant.

I added you to my favorite blogs.

Enjoy.

No Rain said...

Chigiy,

Thanks!

Lantana is fairly drought resistant, but it flowers much better with deep infrequent waterings. The extra watering caused by the recent rains sure made mine burst out nicely for the photo. In this heat, they normally don't look as good.

Anonymous said...

drying & dying that is exactly what is happening when I plant my trailing yellow lantanas. Everyone else in the neighborhood has the plant but I can't get it to survive. Bought a couple last year from a nursery paid too $$$ they died and I am still waiting to see green where they are suppose to grow back. Went to walmart bought 4 all are dry and dead. What to do?????

No Rain said...

anonymous,
Lantana requires deep, infrequent watering. When first planted it needs water more frequently (in warm weather) until it is established. If your previous lantana have not come back by now, they aren't going to. They usually are at their best right now through May. They start looking a bit exhausted in late summer, and that's when they should be pruned and shaped. If they become frost damaged, they can be cut back and if they are going to come back, growth will appear in early spring. Lantana plants aren't finicky, so I would guess it has to do with your watering schedule. Are they in the sun? They need a lot of sun. Are they located in soil that doesn't have a caliche layer? Check all these things and if you still have issues. Wal-mart, as well as all the big box garden centers will give you your money back (up to a year) if you kept the receipt. Good luck!

sarah said...

i have 2 yellow lantanas that i purchased from lowes. i sat them (still in the pots they came in) where i was planning to plant them that weekend. they started looking burnt and appeared to be dying and completely fried by the end of the week so i brought them inside because i was going to return them. after a few days inside i see new growth coming out on them. what is going on? i am in southern alabama and had them where they got full sun from about 10am until the sun goes down. i did water them a couple of times during the week or so that i had them. maybe that was too much?

No Rain said...

Hi Sarah,
It sounds like your lantana reacted to a change in environment. Were the lantana in an area of the store with a shade cloth roof? Taking them out of a sheltered environment into direct sun may have been too much. Lantana is hard to kill--after established, it can be severely pruned and it will come back. When plants are still in nursery pots, they need more water than when in the ground. Perhaps the pots became overheated from direct sun. If so, giving them a couple of drinks of water wouldn't have hurt them, but once they go into the ground, don't overwater. They don't like soppy soil. That's all I can tell you that may be of help. If you want to start over with full plants, then take those you have back to Lowe's and get a couple more, and get them in the ground as quickly as possible. If you can't then keep the lantana in a shadier spot and make sure the black plastic pots don't heat up too much, and water when seemingly dry.
Aiyana

Anthony said...

I'm looking for help with my trailing lantanas. I planted them at the end of June and within a few days they appeared to be dying. Most of the leaves are gone or on their way to being gone, and the "vines" are brown. I watered them daily after planting, but after several days, went to infrequent watering. How can I tell if they are, indeed, dead?

Aiyana said...

It is tough for plants to establish when planted in summer months if you are here in Arizona. If the leaves are gone and the stems brown, they probably too far gone to save. You can try scraping the outside portion of the stems to see if there is any green at all. If the stems are just hard and dry, then I don't think the plant has a chance. If you do find green, you may want to take a few cuttings and keep them going until early spring. Hopefully they will have some roots by then. Most nurseries and/or big box stores will refund your money if you bring the plant and receipt back to them. That may be your best bet, and then get a new plant in early spring.
Good luck,
Aiyana

Anthony said...

I was able to save all but one of my lantanas. I even planted several others in a variety of colors (radiation, purple, dallas red, etc). I have noticed that a couple of my plants, rather than bloom, grow these strange "berries" that turn from green to black. Is this a sign of over-watering, under-watering or something else?

Aiyana said...

Anthony,
We've had a particularly hot summer, and the lantanas have really been stressed, even with adequate watering. Sometimes the lack of flowers is because the variety. Some do better than others as far as bloom, especially in this part of the country. Purple lantana does not do well in the summer; rather, it is a late winter, early spring bloomer. Red has a problem with intense sun, etc. I would wait to see if they perk up and flower at all in mid October. If not, wait until bloom season next spring. If they are still making berries instead of blooms, it may be the plant--not the environment.
Aiyana

Julie said...

First timer, found your blog planing today, thank you for your info! I hope establishe some beautiful lantana

Tx_cowboy said...

I am allergic to these lantana plants. I cannot be around them. I itch all over and have swelling in the limbs or parts of my body like my arms. I cannot be around lantana. I have gotten into contact with this awhile back in the front end of the store. My arm swelled to where I was scratching and scratching. Please if you have allergic reaction, seek emergency assistance immediately.

Anonymous said...

My father always grew lantana with fabulous results. I am new to southern Florida (zone 9b) and have a purple trailing lantana in a large pot. It is nowhere close to drought resistant as I keep reading. It needs watering almost 2 times a day or it faints. Even in the cooler fall temperature. If I skip one day of watering, by the next day it looks completely dead. It does come back after about a week of watering, but what is going on? Does anyone have any idea why this drought tolerant plant in a big pot is so drought intolerant? My soil is rich with peat moss to keep moisture in.
From,
confused

Aiyana said...

Not quite sure what the problem could be with the potted lantana--especially since you have added a moisture retention product and live in a more humid climate than ours. My purple lantana has been a really bad performer overall--both summer and winter. When I lose one, I neve replace it with another purple. It just doesn't do well here. I thought it would perform nicely in winter, but over the years, it has proven to be very disappointing. Compared to my neighbors who overwater by irrigating every day, all my lantana looks puny while theirs is lush and full. So much for drought resistance overall. I refuse to water that often, so I would say that lantana that doesn't perform well over time is better off replaced.
Aiyana

brittany said...

Hi. I potted a lantana in a small pot, only waiting for a night that I wasn't busy to plant it in the ground. My lantana died. Is there anyway to bring it back to life?! Please help!!

Aiyana said...

Brittany,
Dead is dead. If it's dead, it can't come back.

Anonymous said...

I live in SW Arizona and I have 2 Lantana camara 'New Gold' in my back yard. They were hit by frost this past winter, so I cut them way back 1st week in March. They came back nicely and were full of blooms up to a couple weeks ago. I notice the flowers started to disappear. My next door neighbor has 2 as well and hers are doing great. We both use drip irrigation and their is a 1GPH emitter on each shrub. Up until May 1st, they were watered every 6 days for 2.5 hours. Now they are every 4 days for 2.5 hours. Why are mine loosing their flowers and my neighbor's is not? Am I not watering enough? I recall this happening last year to one of my Lantana. I though maybe birds or rabbits might be eating the flowers, but they look like they are simply shrivel up and dying. They are screened in.

Aiyana said...

You don't say what size your emitters are. If the neighbor's plants are doing well with the one gallon emitter every 4 days for 2.5 hours, then try that schedule with your own plants. If you are on the same schedule and emitter size, then wait to see if the flowers return in a couple of weeks. Latana goes through a cycle of losing old flowers and putting on new ones. If they still have no flowers and look dry, try upping the frequency of your watering schedule, not the length of time watered.

Anonymous said...

Our Lantana and the neighbor's Lantana are on the same watering cycle and they use 1 GPH emitter. Will wait to see what happens in a couple weeks. Last year one of our Lantana lost its flowers while the other one, only a couple feet away, did not and it never bloomed again that year. That might suggest it's not getting enough water. I may change from a 1 GPH to a 2 GPH emitter.

Aiyana said...

Lantana can stop blooming from too much or too little watering. I would try both. If the water is reaching one inch in depth, then it is getting enough. I do think your problem may be too much water. Usually Lantana only requires a once or twice a week watering to the depth of one inch. Always check how long it takes for water to reach various depths. That is the best way to determine the type of soil you have. 2.5 hours is really a long time for watering a desert adapted shrub. As I said, try both, but don't let it go too long on either. You will eventually find the perfect balance.

Anonymous said...

Will try what you suggest. These Lantanas are about 3 feet in diameter and so my 1 emitter sits in the middle over the main trunk of the shrub. Is this the proper placement for 1 emitter? Do I 2 emitters located on each side, so that all the roots get water?

Do my Little John shrubs have similar requirements as my Lantana?

Aiyana said...

If you have two emitters, then that means you have been giving the plants 5 gallons of water 4 times a week! That's a lot of water and I don't believe that is necessary, but then, I do not know the type of soil conditions you have in your yard. My lantana had 1/2 gallon emitters and I watered 3 times a week in the hottest part of summer, and only for 45 min. In the cooler months it was once a week. That's what my plants needed for their soil conditions. Why don't you pick up a moisture meter at a nursery or one of the big box stores? That will help you gauge the moisture in the soil accurately. You can see to what depth the moisture gauge shows wetness--if you push it all the way in and it is wet most days, then that is too much water! It wouldn't hurt to move the emitters out a bit give better moisture coverage. Unless the water pools in a depression while emitting, then most of the moisture is going straight down. Use the moisture meter to see how far out the ground is damp. The meter is only around $14 and it will serve you well.
Little John water requirements are similar. They are drought tolerant and can do with a lighter watering schedule. If the leaves yellow, then apply iron chelate to the soil and water. It will green them up quickly.

Anonymous said...

Currently I only have a 1 GPH emitter on my Lantana that runs every 3 days in the summer for 2.5 hours. When I suggested 2 emitters, I was thinking two 1/2 GPH emitters. It sounds like I should consider running just one 1/2 GPH emitter on my Lantana for 45 minutes every 3 days and do likewise for my Little Johns.

I also have Texas Sage on the shrub line and last year their leaves started turning yellow, so I probably was over watering them as well (1 GPH emitter). Does that sound plausible?

I will invest in this moisture meter.

My present irrigation settings were recommended by a local landscaping company. When I recently got some new Pigmy Palms from a local nursery, they recommended a 4 GPH emmitter for all my shrubs for 1 hour every 3 days, which sounded excessive to me. That's why I sought your advice because both these recommendations were at opposite ends.

Aiyana said...

The water amount suggested does seem excessive. If I were you, I would contact the county agricultural extension service and ask them. They are the best resource for a particular region and type of plant.