Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on July 16, 1998. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Colorful Lantanas Endure Hottest Days
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The recent heat wave with indexes near 110 may make us want to wilt, but established lantana plants don't even flinch at the scorching temperatures.
While the 1996 Mississippi Medallion award winning New Gold Lantana is still recommended, there are many more to choose from in various shades of colors, leaf variegation and growth habits, from trailing to upright.
Trailing lantanas (lantana montevidensis) come in purple and white, with improved selections such as White Lightning and Imperial Purple. These cycle in bloom and don't set seeds.
The most popular lantanas with variegated foliage are Samantha and Lemon Swirl. They are both a light to medium yellow color and may even be the same plant.
New Gold has become the standard for use by landscapers and may be the best plant ever produced for the length of bloom. Some horticulturists have speculated that Gold Mound is the same plant. Although it is a good plant, it has not performed as well in our trials.
Two other similar lantanas are Silver Mound, which is off-yellow to white, and Lemon Drop, which is yellowish-white. Lemon Drop has become a standard around my house.
The prettiest lantana may be one called Patriot Rainbow. The colors are unbelievable with magenta, orange, yellow and pink. The downside to this plant is that it is extremely dwarf. Even after a year, you still have a tiny plant. On the other hand, this makes it ideal for some mixed-container plantings or planted at the front of the border.
Just as pretty is a new lantana found by Jim Covington of Clinton Wholesale Nurseries. He applied for a patent on the plant he has named Sonrise. What Patriot Rainbow lacks in vigor, Sonrise makes up the difference. It grows to more than three feet and has orange, yellow and light magenta to pink flowers.
These multi-colored lantanas change colors over the blooming period, allowing the presence of different colored flowers on the same cluster. Other popular varieties that include red and orange and yellow are Dallas Red, Spreading Sunset, Radiation and Patriot Firewagon. Irene and Confetti have magenta and yellow.
Lantanas make great plants for city beautification because of their ability to withstand the toughest conditions. Bay Springs has used them prominently, as has Mount Olive which planted them along Main Street.
Throughout the growing season, frequent tip pruning will induce repeated blooming. A word of caution -- following bloom, some lantanas set fruit that are green and will turn to black with maturity. They are poisonous if eaten.
In the southern two-thirds of the state, gardeners do pretty well establishing lantanas as a perennial. A good layer of mulch not only helps retain moisture but gives winter protection, too.
Lantanas may be the best plants for providing nectar to a variety of butterflies such as swallowtails, fritillaries and painted ladies. Mine are also frequently visited by hummingbirds.
You really can't beat a plant that blooms all summer until frost with such bold-colored flowers. Even though it is the middle of the summer, you still could get months of enjoyment from lantanas you plant this weekend.