For those hot, dry spots in your garden where most plants may struggle, lantana may be your solution. This hardworking plant with colorful flowers thrives with little moisture in full, unyielding sun. It's also easy to grow and pollinator-friendly!
Lantana has coarse, pungently scented, deep green leaves that act as a wonderful backdrop to its contrasting flowers. In many cases, the blooms of lantana create a tie-dye effect on the flower heads. Flowers generally start as a light color and darken as they age. Once the blooms have aged through all of their colors, they simply fall off—saving you the time of removing spent blooms.
The overall size of lantana varies. In warm southern climates, lantana can be considered a perennial or tropical shrub and can grow 10 feet tall. However, the plant is treated as an annual in most climates and still reaches almost 3 feet in one growing season. Some varieties of lantana have a trailing habit, perfect for spilling over a container or hanging basket. Upright varieties of lantana make great pops of color as high-impact annuals in planting beds among perennials for season-long color.
Lantana Care Must-Knows
Consider placement when growing lantana. Lantanas thrive in full sun and lots of warmth. Plants are likely to produce fewer blooms and be more susceptible to disease when in too much shade. In areas with too much moisture, powdery mildew and root rot are more likely to occur.
Older varieties of lantana can be started from seed. Many new varieties of lantana don't produce seed and can only be propagated by stem cuttings of young growth that hasn't gotten too woody.
Lantanas are extremely attractive to pollinators. It's common to see numerous butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds swarming around these plants, drinking up the abundant nectar produced in their small, tubular blooms.
More Varieties of Lantana
Lantana 'Lucky Peach' offers heads of orange-peach flowers that mature to peachy-pink on compact plants.
Lantana montevidensis is a wild form with lavender-purple flowers on a plant that can reach 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
Lantana 'Luscious Grape' displays clusters of lavender-purple flowers on a vigorous, floriferous plant. It grows 16 inches tall and 36 inches wide.
Lantana 'Luscious Citrus Blend' is a heat-loving selection with vibrant red, orange, and yellow flowers on a mounding plant that grows to 3 feet tall and wide.
Lantana 'Patriot Firewagon' offers clusters of yellow flowers that turn bright yellow and then red-orange.
Lantana Companion Plants
Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and you'll know why once you get a good look at it. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach a foot or two high, studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It's the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long with spirelike spikes of blooms. While all varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it is a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can even keep it flowering all winter.
Pentas is one of the best butterfly-attracting plants around. It blooms all summer long, even during the hottest weather, with large clusters of starry blooms that attract butterflies by the dozens as well as hummingbirds. The plant grows well in containers and in the ground—and it can even make a good houseplant if you have enough light. It does best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Pentas is grown as an annual in most parts of the country, but it is hardy in Zones 10-11. Plant it outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
There are few gardens that don't have at least one salvia growing in them. Whether you have sun or shade, a dry garden or lots of rainfall, there's a salvia that you'll find indispensable. All attract hummingbirds, especially the red ones, and are great picks for hot, dry sites where you want tons of color all season. Most salvias don't like cool weather, so plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.