Lantana (Lantana camara)

Lantana (Lantana camara) is a shrubby flowering plant that can grow 1 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide. The larger sizes are more commonly seen in warmer climates such as in Florida or southern California. Lantana is drought-tolerant, deer resistant and attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds. The University of Vermont indicates that lantana is cold hardy to USDA planting zone 9; however, I live in USDA zone 7 and lantana has survived through the winter. UPDATE: Lantana lived through a mild winter, but did not survive a brutally cold winter in USDA zone 7.

The pictured New Gold variety (also known as Gold Mound) is from my garden where its spread has reached 3 feet in one season. Depending on variety, blooms of yellow, lavender, red, white, pink or orange appear in early summer and last until the first hard frost. The blooms are about 1 inch across.

Lantana works well in landscape design as a single specimen plant. Plant several and surround them with purple Mexican heather or other low border plant. Trailing varieties of lantana such as ‘Lavender’ or ‘Gold Mound’ are suitable for hanging baskets or flowerpots.

Choose a full sun location, well-drained location--where water does not pool during rainstorms. Dig a hole twice as wide as the lantana plant container to loosen the soil. Match the depth of the hole to height of the root ball. In clay soils, mix 50 percent potting soil or organic matter like leaf mold in with the soil removed from the hole if desired. Backfill the hole and water well.

Though drought-tolerant, lantana requires water at least every 10 days until established, which may occur by the end of the first growing season. Water deeply. If desired, spread 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch such as pine chips or leaf mold around the base of the lantana plant. Extend the mulch out 6 to 12 inches from the trunk of the plant. Cut lantana back to about 6 inches above the ground in early spring.

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