It is summertime in Georgia which means lots of heat, humidity, and sun. Our temps can get well into the 90s and the sun can be very hard on plants. I have mentioned in other posts that my azaleas will struggle sometimes in the extreme heat and sun. One plant that I have found that thrives in the Georgia sun is lantana.
All about lantana
Lantana are evergreen shrubs that are very common in Florida. They do well in the Florida sun and enjoy warmer climates. They are shrubs but the way they grow, with long tendrils, make them excellent for putting in a hanging planter. The plant will spill over the side and add a lot of character.
The flowers bloom in a round cluster with many bright colors. Flowers can be orange, yellow, pink, red and purple. I really love the multicolor blooms. My favorite is the pink and yellow combo. To encourage blooms you can deadhead the old ones which will keep the flowers blooming all summer long.
Lantana plants can reach 6 feet high and 8 feet wide in warm climates like Florida. An interesting fact is that they are salt-tolerant which makes them great for the beach. They are also drought tolerant once they are mature. When they are young you do need to water them regularly until they get established. They love full sun, a well-drained soil, and a good soak once a week. Other than that there is not much more to do.
Plant lantana in the spring once the chance of frost is gone. They will not survive a cold winter so you do need to bring them indoors. Growing them indoors is a bit of a challenge as they are not the best houseplants. They can be messy when all the blooms drop. You could just leave them in a room above 50 degrees and let them stay dormant until spring arrives.
The blooms are popular
The main benefit of lantana in your garden is the steady blooms throughout the summer. An added benefit is that the flowers attract many beneficial insects to your garden. Butterflies, moths, bees, and hummingbirds love lantana flowers. Planting them along with butterfly bushes will ensure your garden will have a lot of butterfly and hummingbird activity. That is my goal as I really enjoy watching all the butterflies. If your plant is not blooming, it may be lack of sun. They require 6 hours of sun a day to thrive.
There is a negative to these hardy plants. The leaves, which have a slight citrus fragrance, can cause a rash and eating the berries can be fatal (ok, so maybe that is a big negative). This is important to note if you have small children or pets in your garden. Lantana are relatively disease resistant and don’t require a lot of special treatment. The leaves have a rough texture which makes them unappealing to chipmunks and other creatures that might eat them. As you know from my other posts, I have a bit of a chipmunk problem.
Overall, I really like these plants. My front porch gets brutal sun almost the whole day. Every plant I have put on the porch does not survive the GA heat, except lantana. They seem to have an attitude of “bring it on” to all that heat and sunshine. I do have to water them sometimes twice a week on the porch because it is intense heat and sun. You will know when they need watering as they will get a bit wilted looking. Within minutes of watering them, they perk right up. I love seeing the pretty orange and red colors each time I walk up to my porch.
If you have a sunny spot in your garden that needs a hearty plant with vivid color, then lantana is for you. It is easy to grow and adds a great splash of color to any garden.
$5-19 for a 1-gallon plant
Remember they grow fast so you don’t need a larger size. I always buy the smallest size I can get and they are overflowing the planters in no time. Lowest price found at Walmart.
Where to buy:
Walmart, Home Depot, Pike or local nurseries. You can also buy online from various sites including Amazon.
Check Walmart’s garden section in July as they will clearance many plants, especially if they get wilted. Most plants are hearty, and with a little water and fertilizer you can perk them right up. I have purchased many plants for a few dollars this way and all have survived. I purchased all the yellow lantana for under $2 each this year.