Editor’s Choice: Lantana

Lantana: The Bold and the Beautiful

Much of our landscape consists of trees and shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous. Of course, there are plenty of perennials too. Then in strategic locations, we use bold annuals to add that important wow factor. These annuals just don’t look good one day, they must be impressive any time of day, every day!
This year Lantana stole the show. Planted were the trailing and mounded types, both were equally impactful. Outperforming other annuals called for the same duty in seasons past, Lantana has earned a spot on my Favorites list.
We were intentional about selecting Lantana this season. Lantana was a constant in our Florida landscape, where the colors were vivid and blooms relentless year round. Here in the Midwest though, they are considered annuals; our winter temperatures often drop below 25 degrees. Nevertheless, it’s that color that grabs attention.
With names like Luscious® Citrus Blend and Marmalade, the color spectrum is widely represented. From solids to multicolor combinations, Lantana comes in yellow/white, yellow, grape, pink, red, and orange.
Lantana are available in many shapes, sizes and habits. Check size and habit information for the specific variety you are choosing to make sure it fits your needs.
Be sure to plant in well-draining soil, and in full sun. I planted some in full sun/part shade, and they did well. In comparison however, the Lantana grouping planted in all-day full sun, at the garden’s edge against the street, were spectacular and put on a better show. At this writing, they are still flowering and I expect them to continue until a hard frost.
While newly planted Lantana require frequent watering, once established, these plants require little maintenance and are even tolerant of dry conditions. If rainfall is minimal then a good soaking once a week should do. This drought and heat tolerant annual thrives on neglect. Whether in the landscape, edging a bed, or in a container, Lantana is one tough plant.
There were four planting sites in our landscape: one at the edge of the street (previously described), one in a container underneath a standard hibiscus, another at the edge of bed outlined with rock, and the last in a bed with the new butterfly bushes. In each of those spots Lantana flourished, and not once did they wane or fade.
Here is another plant for your garden that attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. I’ve seen plenty of Monarchs stopping in for fuel while on their southbound journey.
They also are not heavy feeders so an application of controlled-release fertilizer at the beginning of the season and a second one mid-summer should be all of the fertility they need. While some steadily blooming annuals benefit from a mid-season dose of fertilizer, Lantana never faded in my garden.
According to the Humane Society of America Lantana leaves can be toxic to pets. This means that the plants are generally identified as having the capability for producing a toxic reaction.
If you’re new to gardening, and need a confidence boost, then give Lantana a try. Whether in a container or the front of the garden, this jewel will not disappoint. Even though you can’t plant them now, remember to put Lantana on your list of must-haves for next growing season.

To view additional images of Lantana varieties, visit the online version of the October 2017 issue at KCGMAG.com.

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