Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lantana

"How do I grow things," I asked my friend, Beverly, a number of years ago, when I was struggling with a particularly persistent black thumb.

She told me, "Just dig a hole and plant something in it."

For me, that only holds true if I have the right plant. I've found that flowers and shrubs and vegetables and fruits that do well here on the Gulf Coast of Texas are basically those that like sunshine, rain, humidity and drought.

For that reason, Lantana is my all-time favorite flower or flowering shrub. I noticed the pink variety growing alongside woods, so I figured it would grow in my garden. And within two weeks of sticking a seedling down in a hole, that seedling had expanded its territory to half the side of my house.

I love seeing lantana in large plantings where, unlike my side garden, there is enough room, such as the ones at malls and public buildings. Landscapers in these settings tend to use the varieties of lantana that are mounders or spreaders. My favorite lantana sight is when it's spilling over a curb or landscape timber.

Up close, most lantana has tiny petals of different color combinations, such as bright pink/bright yellow/magenta, light pink/bright yellow, purple/white, or one of the originals -- bright yellow. I love the fact that when you step back, those individual colors meld into a lovely combination. If you've ever seen lantana, you'll know what I mean.

Not only are the colors fantastic, but lantana comes in various growth forms. My favorites are those that spread out low, such as the bright yellow ones. Those are great as ground covers for large areas and I have seen people using the weed whacker on them just to keep them in check. On the other hand, I have a shrubby lantana that is over 6 feet tall. This champ came back after a really hard winter. I would like to get the trailing type of lantana that is so good for containers.

Not only is it beautiful, but if you have a butterfly garden or live near the beach, lantana is for you.

I should tell you that lantana is on my list of plants that take over the world. So be sure to check the growth habit (it will be on the plant tag) before planting. You don't want it to take over your world!

Lantana
Light: Full sun
Water: Moderate
Prolific bloomer
Loves hot and humid
Flowers: varied
Invasive
Poisonous

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