Uncategorized

15 Different Types of Lantana (All Lantana Varieties)

Lantanas are a member of the Verbenaceae family. There are over 150 species in the Lantana genus, but with all the hybrids and cultivars, your options are nearly unlimited. Another genus in the Vegenaceae family includes the Verbana species. Because of the two genera’s similarities to one another, this can lead to some confusion. However, there are a couple of key differences. First, lantana plants grow as evergreen shrubs while verbena plants are herbaceous perennials, meaning they lack a woody stalk. Additionally, while their flowers look mostly similar, lantanas will bloom year-round in contrast to verbenas that only bloom in the summer and fall.

Significance of Lantana Varieties

Native to regions like Texas, Florida, and Hawaii in the US along with Central and South America, lantanas are happiest in tropical ecosystems. Because of their propensity to grow in such hot, humid climates, they are able to stay active year-round. That means flowers…lots of flowers. In fact, most species and cultivars of lantana produce blooms all year. Even in cooler climates, lantanas can grow as annuals that will flower from spring to fall.

Apart from their long flowering season, lantanas’ gorgeous flowers really drive their popularity. Individually, the tiny flowers have long tube-like corollas with five-lobed petals at the end. However, the flowers grow in bundles or flower heads that are usually 1-2 inches across which gives the feeling of a larger bloom. The flowers can be red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, and white. Horticulturists have put lantana species through heavy hybridization to create an enormous array of lantana options. As a bonus, many lantana species also have a herby fragrance to their leaves. They are sometimes confused with oregano or marjoram.

Ecological Importance

Not only are they beautiful, but lantanas also serve as a key resource for many pollinators. The flowers create important nectar resources for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Additionally, some species of lantana act as the host plants for certain species of butterfly. That means those caterpillars can’t survive on any other plant. The fruits, while poisonous to humans, are beloved by the birds that rely on lantana as an important part of their diets. Maybe these delightful plants can even inspire you to plant your own pollinator garden!

Types of Lantana Species

Lantana species are popular garden plants because of their showy blooms and ability to attract native pollinators. However, some species can become invasive, so be sure to check with your state or area’s invasive plants list before starting a lantana garden. In general, all lantana species need hot, humid climates to really thrive. Many of these species can be found in the southern United States. If the climate suits them, lantana species are very low maintenance and make a beautiful addition to your garden.

Common Lantana (Lantana camara)

The common lantana (also called shrub verbena) is one of the most widely cultivated varieties of lantana flowers. In colder climates, you can grow this species in a container or as an annual. While this is a great plant to spruce up your garden or home, be extra cautious if you live in tropical areas. The common lantana spreads quickly and is considered invasive in Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and parts of Australia.

Characteristics

  • Grows 3-6 feet tall as an upright shrub

Native Range

Central and South America

  • Flowers colors include white, yellow, orange, red, and purple.
  • Leaves are serrated and ovate
  • Attracts butterflies.
    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11

    Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)

    Ideal as a dense ground cover, trailing lantana has a wide sprawl, thick foliage, and beautiful flowers. Another vigorous grower, it has escaped gardens across the southern U.S., though it is less invasive than its cousin, L. camara. Be careful around this plant – the tiny hairs on the leaves can be irritating to the skin.

    Characteristics

  • Sun: Full Sun
  • Soil & Moisture: Tolerates poor soils, and needs a medium amount of moisture.
  • Pruning: Prune back in winter
    • Grows about 12-20 inches tall as a low, sprawling shrub

    Native Range

    Tropical South America (Discovered in Montevideo, Uruguay, hence the species name)

  • Each vine-like stem will spread upwards of five feet.
  • Flower colors include purple, pink, and lilac.
  • Leaves are dark green with tiny hairs.
  • Attracts bees and butterflies.
    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-10
    • Soil & Moisture: Well-draining soils with medium moisture
    • Pruning: Prune back in winter

    Buttonsage (Lantana involucrata)

    A lantana species that is native to the U.S., buttonsage is a sweet little shrub. When the leaves are crushed, they have a fragrance similar to sage, giving this lantana plant its common name.

    Characteristics

    • Grows about three feet tall as a branching upright shrub.

    Native Range

    South Florida to Central and South America

  • Leaves are rich green, ovate, with a downy soft pubescence
  • Flower colors include lavender to white and are followed by purple fruit.
  • Attracts birds, ants, bees, and butterflies.
    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-11
    • Sun: Full Sun to Partial Shade
    • Soil & Moisture: Tolerates most soils and needs medium moisture
    • Pruning: Prune back in winter

    Popcorn Lantana (Lantana trifolia)

    Also called lavender popcorn, this lantana plant is as much cultivated for its decorative fruit as for its flowers. Giving the plant its common name, the fruits form in bundles that look like individual pieces of purple popcorn! Don’t be tempted to eat them, however, many lantana species are poisonous.

    Characteristics

    Native Range

    West Indies, Mexico, Central, and South America

  • Grows 2-6 feet tall as an upright shrub.
  • Dark green leaves appear in whorls of three.
  • Tiny lavender to pink flowers develop into spikes of lavender fruit (reminiscent of popcorn or blackberries)
    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11
    • Soil & Moisture: Tolerated poor soils, though prefers well-draining soils with medium moisture.
    • Pruning: Prune back in winter

    Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides)

    Sometimes called by the antiquated Latin name Lantana horrida, other common names for Texas lantana include calico bush, wild lantana, and West Indian shrubverbena. This is a favorite of many butterflies and birds, and the Texas lantana makes a great choice for a butterfly garden as its cousins are often invasive. In fact, the Lantana Scrub Hairstreak butterfly relies on the Texas lantana as its primary food source as a caterpillar.

    Characteristics

    Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico

  • Intense branching, sometimes with prickles.
  • Leaves are rich green and ovate with a flat base.
  • Flower colors include red, orange, and yellow, often appearing multicolored.
  • Attracts birds and butterflies.
    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-10
    • Soil & Moisture: Well-draining soil with low to moderate moisture
    • Pruning: Prune back in winter

    Desert Lantana (Lantana achyranthifolia)

    This small aromatic shrub is sometimes called Mexican Majoram because of its fragrance. Occasionally, it can be misidentified as belonging to the mint family! The leaves and fruit are a favorite snack of browsing animals like white-tailed deer.

    Characteristics

    • Grows as a woody shrubby plant (about three feet tall and wide).

    Southern Texas to South America

  • Leaves are rich green and ovate with a flat base.
  • Flower open white and change to pinks and purples.
  • Attracts birds and butterflies.
    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
    • Soil & Moisture: Tolerant of most soil types, but prefers well-draining soil with low to moderate moisture
    • Pruning: Prune back in winter

    Popular Varieties of Lantana Cultivars

    In addition to the wild species of lantana, these flowers have been intentionally bred for their robust blooms. Now, there are cultivars available in a plethora of colors in both shrubs and trailing varieties. In fact, most cultivars are hybrids and variations of L. camara and L. montevidensis. In contrast to species of lantanas, cultivars are often sterile. Therefore, they can only be bred by cuttings. As a bonus, lantana cultivars often require less pruning than their wild counterparts.

    Dallas Red

    Rising to fame because of their ability to attract butterflies, the Dallas red cultivars sport beautiful bundles of flowers that fade from dark orange to a brilliant red.

    Characteristics & Flower Color

    Grows as an upright shrub to about 3-4 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide. Dark Orange fading to Solid red

    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-12
    • Sun: Full Sun (at least 6 hours per day)
    • Soil & Moisture: Tolerant of most soil types; needs moderate moisture.

    Silver Mound

    A low profile growth pattern gives the name to the group of ‘mounding’ lantanas. From spring to fall, the silver mound lantana will bud small yellow flowers that mature to a creamy white, giving the impression that each flower bundle has a yellow center. With these white and yellow flowers, this plant will attract native bees and some butterflies.

    Characteristics & Flower Color

    Grows around 18 inches tall, and up to four feet wide. Flowers begin yellow and mature to a creamy white.

    • USDA Hardiness Zone:  8-12
    • Sun: Full Sun to partial shade
    • Soil & Moisture: Drought resistant once established, needs well-draining soils

    Weeping Lantana

    A variety of trailing lantana, this cultivar is a great choice for a butterfly garden. Rich purple and lavender flowers. With a spreading, trailing growth pattern, weeping lantana works well in containers, as it will spill over the sides. And not only are the flowers purple – if grown in cooler temperatures, the foliage will also develop a purple cast.

    Characteristics & Flower Color

    Grows 1-2 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. Flowers are purple to lavender.

    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-11
    • Soil & Moisture: Well-draining soils with medium moisture. Careful to not overwater.

    For a true party of colors, confetti lantana fits the multicolored niche. Another spreading lantana, this plant doesn’t grow very tall but makes a great ground cover or container plant. Dark green foliage gives a terrific contrast to the year-round flowers.

    Characteristics & Flower Color

    This low growing plant will be 2-3 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide in its natural form. Flowers are multicolored with yellow, pink, and magenta blooms.

    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11
    • Soil & Moisture: Drought tolerant, needs well-draining soils

    Another stunning multicolored variety of lantana is the Irene cultivar. The Irene lantana is a variety bred from L. camara. With a mounding growth habit, it makes another great choice for a groundcover or for hanging baskets. Like most lantanas, this will bloom consistently from the last frost to the first frost. And if you live below the frost line, Irene lantana will provide dazzling color year-round.

    Characteristics & Flower Color

    This low growing plant sports dark green foliage with serrated, ovate leaves. It will grow up to two feet tall and two to three feet wide. Flowers will often bloom yellow, then transition to pinks and magenta as they reach the outer edges of the bundles.

    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11
    • Soil & Moisture: Well-draining soils with moderate moisture

    A profuse bloomer, you can expect to have brilliant golden yellow flowers throughout the seasons with the New Gold variety. Another low growing lantana, New Gold works well in containers and baskets, and it can also be trained more as a shrub.

    Characteristics & Flower Color

    This miniature lantana only grows to be 12-15 inches tall and 18-24 inches wide. The flowers are dark golden, yellow that pair beautifully with the green leaves.

    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11
    • Soil & Moisture: Well-draining soils with moderate water. Drought tolerant once established.

    Patriot Rainbow

    With a small stature and compact growth form, Patriot Rainbow works well on borders or hedges. Seemingly magically, the flowers change color as they age, so the bundles have a rainbow appearance.

    Characteristics & Flower Color

    Only 12 inches tall and about 15 inches wide, the Patriot Rainbow is dwarf in comparison to its larger cousins. The flowers open as a bright yellow, fade through orange and then finish with pinks and magentas.

    • USDA Hardiness Zone:  9-11
    • Soil & Moisture: Well-draining soils with moderate water.

    A great choice to attract bees and butterflies, Radiation sports brilliant orange to red flowers. This shrub works as a low hedge or as a beautiful addition to a flower garden and is a cultivar of L. camara.

    Characteristics & Flower Color

    Growing 4-6 feet tall and wide, this shrub is one of the larger more upright lantanas. Flowers are start yellow and quickly transition to deep oranges and reds.

    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11
    • Soil & Moisture: Well-draining soils with moderate water.

    Dove Wings

    With white flowers that attract moths and butterflies, Dove Wings is another member of the Patriot series. A low growing shrub, Dove Wings makes a sweet addition to flower beds.

    Characteristics & Flower Color

    Grows 12-18 inches tall and 18-24 inches wide. Dove Wings has white to creamy flowers with yellow centers.

    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11
    • Soil & Moisture: Tolerates poor soils. Ideally grows in well-draining soils with moderate water.

    Beautiful Blooming Bundles

    Whichever lantana you decide to plant, you can continue to propagate it year-to-year and create more plants around your yard. Species of lantanas can be grown from seeds that you can harvest from the fruit, but all varieties and cultivars can be propagated from cuttings.

    Taking Cuttings from Lantana Plants

    All lantanas are easy to grow from cuttings. To do this, take a cutting of new growth during the early spring and remove most of the lower leaves. Coat the bottom two inches in a rooting growth hormone and plant in a small pot with a hearty helping of your favorite seed starting soil. Make sure the soil stays moist, so spray it lightly every day. Once roots develop, you are ready to transplant your new lantana outside!

    No matter what you’re looking for, there is certainly a type of lantana for your garden! If you live in the southern U.S., maybe try planting one of the native varieties to support the pollinators in your area. Even if you live in a colder area, lantanas can make great low-maintenance annuals that will provide a pop of color wherever you decide to plant them.

    Keep Reading