Hi, I am Millie Davenport, a horticulture extension agent with the Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center.
Today we are going to look at Lantana.
Today we are outside the Geology Museum, here in the South Carolina Botanical Gardens and we are going to take a look at the Lantana growing around this building. Lantana is a native to southern Texas and the tropical regions of the Americas. And as you can tell, it is well loved for its flower power all through summer, the dog days of summer, up until frost. Lantanas, in general, are one of those few plants that love the heat and will perform all summer long while a lot of your other annuals and perennials fizzle out. So, this is a great addition to the garden for that reason. Lantanas, in general, are considered to be half-hardy perennials. Basically, meaning that they are going to reliably overwinter in the coastal regions of South Carolina, but once you get up into the Upstate, they are not necessarily going to make it through the winter time. But there are a couple of cultivars that are very valuable to the upstate for the reason that they do overwinter for us up here. So, we are going to start out looking at a couple of those cultivars.
This is Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’. ‘Miss Huff’ was selected from a garden in northern Georgia for its beautiful flower color as well as for its hardiness. ‘Miss Huff’ is a very vigorous grower. As you can see here, she will reach, in one growing season, up to 5 to 6 ft. ‘Miss Huff’ here has really nice flowers that open up starting off as a really light kind of apricot-ish almost orange-yellow colored flower, and as they age, the outer circular part of the cluster of the flower, do darken into a really nice shade of orange.
This is another hardy selection of Lantana. This is ‘Mozelle’. ‘Mozelle’ is hardy all the way through the up state as well as the coastal regions of South Carolina. Now, the interesting thing about ‘Mozelle’ is that it does have some local interest to it, because it is a local selection. Dr. David Bradshaw’s friend, Mozelle Smith, brought this plant back from Texas to the upstate of South Carolina. And, that is the origination of it. And it was named in her memory, ‘Mozelle’. ‘Mozelle’ is loved for its hardiness as well as for its interesting bi-colored flowers. When they open up, they are more of a shade of yellow, kind of a light yellow color, and as the flowers age they turn into this beautiful shade of pink. ‘Mozelle’ is a really vigorous grower like ‘Miss Huff’ and it also has a really nice mounded habit to it as well.
To encourage ‘Mozelle’ and ‘Miss Huff’ to overwinter reliably for you in your garden, you want to make sure that you leave the woody stems each fall and winter, and don’t prune them back at that time. You want to wait until the following spring and that is a great time, when new growth is starting to emerge, you can cut them back to 6 to 12 inches tall. The reason that you don’t want to cut those back earlier than that is because they have a really corky pith in the stem. And, if you have a really wet winter those stems are going to absorb the moisture, and it can get back to the roots and cause them to freeze.
Now we are looking at a different species of Lantana. This is Lantana montevidensis. This is more of a spreading habit with that particular species, they also usually have more of a solid color to them, usually purple or white. This species will reach around 8 to 12 inches tall and spread from 2 to 4 foot wide. It has a really nice spreading habit to it that makes it nice for not just the landscape but also for hanging baskets and containers. A couple of different cultivars that are available is ‘White Lightning’ here. It has a really nice, crisp white color to the flowers, which would make a nice addition to combination baskets with other flower colors. This is another selection of the species Lantana montevidensis. This is ‘Imperial Purple’. It has a really beautiful lilac flower to it, has proven to be hardy in several locations throughout the upstate. And we have it now planted in the South Carolina Botanical Gardens. So we are going to continue to monitor this for the next few years for its hardiness.
Lantana, in general, is a very vigorous grower. It’s really going to do best in a full sun location, with a well-drained soil. The full sun, you want about 6 hours or more per day where you are going to get the best flower power from that sunlight. Now, with a well-drained soil, that is really crucial for the Lantana. And, the reason is, that if you have a wet winter, those roots end sitting in the moisture that stays in the soil if it is not well-drained, and that can cause freeze damage to the plant.
Whether you are choosing Lantana for its ability to attract butterflies to your garden, for its drought tolerance, or even for its salt tolerance on the coastal region of the state, or even just for its flower power in the landscape, it will make a great addition to any sunny landscape.