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How to Grow Lantana

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How to Grow Lantana

Growing lantana isn't difficult or labor intensive, as long as its needs and basic care requirements are met.

Showy, sun-loving lantana (_Lantana_ spp.) adds a brilliant splash of color to summer garden beds with its multicolored, pom-pom-like flowers. It is widely grown as an annual but will live as a perennial within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 11, depending on the type. Heat and neglect don’t bother lantana, but it will look and bloom better if grown under the right conditions with a little routine care.
Room to Grow
Lantana varies in size across species and cultivars, and each has its own spacing needs. Common lantana (Lantana camara) hybrids often grow to a height of 3 to 4 feet with a 1- to 3-foot spread, depending on the specific variety, while trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis) grows to only 1 to 3 feet in height but spreads out in a 3- to 5-foot radius. Space the plant according to its mature size, and choose a suitably large plot to prevent overcrowding.
Lantana is toxic to cats, dogs and — to a lesser extent — people, so plant it away from areas where pets and children play.
Location Is Everything
Lantana isn’t picky about its soil, but it does have a couple of growing requirements that cannot be ignored:
Good drainage. Plant lantana in fast-draining soil with low fertility and slight acidity. Avoid rich, loamy soil that holds moisture for longer than a day.
Bright, direct sun. Choose a garden bed with at least four hours of direct midday sun. Shade reduces blooming and encourages sickness in lantana, so the more sunlight, the better.
Lantana leaves emit a strong scent when crushed, so plant it away from walkways and other areas where you might accidentally brush against it.
Planting Tips
Lantana needs warm temperatures to perform well. The plants grow best when daytime temperatures are above 68 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures are between 55 and 60 F, so wait at least two weeks after the last spring frost to plant lantana outdoors.
Mulching isn’t strictly necessary when growing lantana during the summer months, but a 1- to 2-inch layer helps keep weeds at bay and lessens the need for frequent watering. In addition, a layer of mulch helps shield the plant’s roots, which may let it survive the winter after the stems die back — just remember to replace the mulch each spring to eliminate any insect eggs or fungal growth.
Leave an inch or so of space between the mulch layer and the base of the plant to help prevent stem rot.
Watering Tips
Drought and heat are no match for lantana, but even established plants need a little routine watering to ensure bountiful blooming and vigorous growth. Freshly planted lantana plants are especially susceptible to stress and should be kept moist during the first few weeks so that their roots spread out.
Established lantana need an inch of water each week. If the weather is dry, run a hose at the base of the plant once a week until the soil is moist in the top 6 to 15 inches, depending on drainage. Avoid overhead watering because excess moisture on the leaves encourages disease, especially in shaded beds. If the plant wilts during hot weather, increase watering to twice a week. However, make sure the soil has dried out completely in the top inch to prevent overwatering.
Fertilizer Needs
Under most circumstances, lantana requires little to no fertilizer. However, plants grown in very lean, sandy soil and especially vigorous cultivars such as ‘Miss Huff’ (Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’) benefit greatly from a light application of general-purpose fertilizer each spring after the soil warms and growth resumes. Overfeeding reduces flowering and opens the plant up to disease, so a little goes a long way.
Things You'll Need
15-15-15 analysis fertilizer
Gallon jug
Garden hose
Lightweight organic mulch
Step 1
Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of water-soluble 15-15-15 analysis fertilizer in 1 gallon of water.
Step 2
Rake off the previous year's mulch layer to expose the soil.
Step 3
Pour the fertilizer solution around the base of the lantana, taking care not to splash it on the leaves or on yourself.
Step 4
Water deeply to distribute the fertilizer into the soil.
Step 5
Spread a new layer of mulch around the lantana after feeding, leaving a space between the mulch and the stem of each plant.
Step 6
Apply a second 1-gallon application of fertilizer in midsummer to fast-growing plants or those grown in very poor soil.
Lantana may escape cultivation and become invasive in warmer climates. Choose sterile hybrids or trailing lantana whenever possible, because both are less likely to spread out of their desired locations.

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