Gardening with Laurie: When gardening, do not forget the lantana
Looking around for a heat- and drought-tolerant colorful plant the other day, I came upon some lantana and was reminded just how great this plant is. This South American native is a member of the verbena family. In our part of the world, lantana will be a perennial.
It seems almost every year new varieties of lantana are available. Some lantana varieties grow as spreaders, some have a more mounding growth and some will grow upright to 3 or 4 feet.
All lantana can withstand our summer heat and are drought tolerant once established. If you want to attract butterflies to your yard, then lantana is the plant for you. All lantana are excellent butterfly-attracting plants.
Lantana grows best in full sun with good drainage. They are fast growing with good care. I find they respond best when fed at least once a month, if not more often.
One negative aspect about lantana would be that they are prone to lacebugs and spider mites. But, this problem is easily solved by spraying the plants with liquid seaweed every couple of weeks or at least monthly. Seaweed is a good fertilizer in itself or could be added to any other natural fertilizer.
Use your finger to determine how wet the soil is and when to water your lantanas. Usually, when you find the top inch of soil dry, it's time to water the plants.
As with most other plantings, lantana should be well mulched. Occasionally, give your lantanas a light shearing of the tips. This will help to encourage more blooming and neater looking plants.
Lantanas come in all colors from white to multicolored varieties. Lantanas can be used as border plants or used as mass plantings within beds. They can be grown in pots for a patio or other areas of the landscape. Trailing lantana varieties would be pretty grown in hanging baskets.
Lantana add lots of showy color when planted with annual plants. For example, planting white spreading lantana in front of red butterfly pentas would not only be beautiful, but the combo would certainly attract lots of butterflies.
There is no doubt about it; lantana is one of the most useful plants to have in any hot dry area for colorful blooms all season.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.