Dictionary of Flowers: Lantana Camara

Stunning Lantana Camara attracts butterflies. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Vicki deLoach and Flickr
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Stunning Lantana Camara attracts butterflies. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Vicki deLoach and Flickr

  • Lantana Camara
  • Common name: lantana
  • Family:  Verbenaceae
  • Category: perennial in USDA zones 9 to 11, grown as an annual elsewhere
  • Height: 6" to 72"
  • Width: 12" to 72"
  • Sun
  • Blooms: late spring to early fall
  • Attracts: butterflies, hummingbirds, berry-eating birds
  • Growth habit: bushy, trailing. Used as a spiller or filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: average to poor, sandy, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers. Drought tolerant
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, mixed border
  • Diseases: resistant to disease
  • Pests: spider mites, aphids, whitefly

Lantana is a tropical shrub native to South America.

In frost free zones, it can grow as a small tree.

It is easily available for purchase and normally treated as an annual garden plant. In frost free zones, plant sterile hybrid cultivars, as it can be a noxious or invasive plant. Self-seeding is not a problem in colder zones. 

The leaves are dark green, hairy and can produce allergic reactions when touch in some people. 

Lantana's berries are poisonous if ingested. 

Blooms look like small trumpets and grow on rounded clusters. The individual flowers are different colors, as they change shades when they age. Flower color ranges from white to yellow and pinks, reds and magentas. Foliage can be variegated.

Lantana is a carefree, easy to grow plant in both containers or in the ground. It prefers average to lean soils with good drainage and can tolerate sandy soils.

Soil pH should be neutral to slightly acidic. It grows in full sun, though it can handle some shade, though it won't bloom as profusely. Water regularly, but do not overwater.

In frost free zones, lantana is drought tolerant once established. Container plants need to be watered when the soil feels dry. Deadhead as needed, though not really necessary.

Lantana produces seeds in berry capsules that turn from green to black as they dry. These are poisonous to humans and pets and should never be ingested. However, birds do eat them with no consequences.

Trim lantana in spring if needed. Fertilize through the growing season if grown in containers with a high phosphorus fertilizer to encourage bloom. For lantana planted on the ground, a yearly application of slow release balanced fertilizer is all that is needed.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

In cold zones, lantana can be wintered indoors in a sunny windowsill. It might loose all the leaves. Prune hard in spring and bring back outdoors once weather warms and all danger of frost has passed.

Lantana can be propagated by semi ripe or green cuttings during spring. Take cuttings from non flowering stems, dip in rooting hormone and insert in pots with a mixture of peat and perlite.

Keep cuttings in bright light, but away from direct sun. Maintain humidity high while they root. Roots should form in about a month. If growing from seed, plant indoors in late winter.

Soak seed for a day in hot water and plant in individual peat pots. Germination is slow and erratic. When kept at about 75F, it can take as long as six weeks for lantana seed to germinate.

Move seedlings to a bright location and pinch back as they grow to encourage bushiness. Wait till soil has warmed up before setting lantana in their permanent spot in the garden.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Lantana is not very susceptible to disease if grown in adequate conditions. Avoid soggy soils and provide good air circulation.

If there are insect problems, apply insecticidal soap or blast with a stream of water from the hose. Lantana is deer resistant.

Popular varieties:

  • Lantana camara 'Bandana' series - large flowers in a range of colors from solid yellow to solid red and pink/yellow bicolors. One and a half to two feet tall
  • Lantana camara 'Patriot' series - mounding habit, excellent for containers. White, yellow, and bicolored yellow/pink and yellow/red blooms
  • Lantana camara 'Luscious' series - two feet tall plants. This series offers a pink-purple variety, yellow and bicolors
  • Lantana montevidensis (trailing lantana) - sprawling habit, good choice for hanging baskets. It can trail up to five feet. Purple or white flowers
  • Lantana camara 'Samantha' - variegated foliage, green and cream. Yellow flowers. Small size, about one and a half feet tall

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

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