Lantana camarais 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.