If you haven’t heard the news, the Lantana flower has grown up a lot and is no longer the fairly invasive, considered by some to be “a weed”, albeit a beautiful one, that it used to be. The careful cultivation of this semi-tropical plant that is native to the more tropical regions of Africa and the Americas has resulted in hybrids which have evolved to include those that can be potted, grown as both perennials and annuals, some that are more shrub-like and some that are even being grown as flowering, brilliant ground cover. However, what most gardeners consider the best part is that these hybrids do not have viable seeds! They’ll still be eaten by the songbirds, who absolutely love the seeds left when the Lantana flowers have bloomed their last for the season, and they will still spread them all over creation, but the seeds will no longer germinate and take root; which means your neighbors across town won’t be cursing the gardener who dared to plant the Lantana flower. You can plant Lantana to your heart’s content and enjoy the butterflies, hummingbirds and honey bees that will make your yard their home, guilt and trouble-free!
Let me introduce you to some of the best of the newest series of Lantana flowers:
- First are the Bandana® Lantanas. (Firstonly because the name is cool and because, alphabetically speaking, they are displayed first on our site.) Unlike the “wild” Lantana plants, the Bandana series has perfected the plant’s shape and done away with the characteristic lankiness. At the same time, the size of the blossoms is much larger than its native cousins, while some absolutely stunning quadruple color combinations and virtually unheard of saturated single colors have been introduced. Check out the Bandana Cherry Sunrise or the Bandana Trailing Gold Lantana plant for unusual un-Lantana-like coloration and behavior.
- Next, we have the Carolina Lantana series. Much more heat and drought tolerant than the native species, the Carolina Lantana flower has become very popular in the more arid regions of the U.S. Once established, they perform admirably, while their tropical essence is enjoyed where rainfall can be somewhat of a rarity. Many of these varieties, like the Carolina Confetti and the Carolina Lavender Lantana flowers not only have a wonderful trailing habit that makes them perfect as a ground cover or trailing from planters or retaining walls, but has the most un-Lantana-like colors.
- Finally, there is the Sonâ„¢ Lantana series. These are the most shrub-like of the hybrid Lantana flowers. Prolific bloomers, they can reach heights and breadths of three to five feet! They are also the most cold tolerant of the species, which has extended its perennial range. Many gardeners in the “border” zones have taken to heavily mulching and covering their Son Lantanas in the winter and have been successfully rewarded with that Lantana beauty coming to life again in the spring. The tallest of the Son series that we carry are Son Sonrise and Son Sonset.
Lantanas have always been salt tolerant, but now they are more heat and drought tolerant than ever, with some even being grown as perennials where they haven’t been grown before. Though no longer invasive, I guess the Lantana flowers still have a “stinky” reputation; the truth is that the foliage is what is considered a little aromatically challenged, not the flowers. (And the foliage only emits a strong citrusy smell when trampled or bruised). The flowers are quite fragrant, as are all tropicals.
We have to thank the talented breeders that have made it possible for all of us to enjoy the tropical Lantana in our own backyards. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!