Every year about this time, I like to size up what's done the best and the worst in the garden. And this year, as usual, lantana is up there at the top for plants that do well in full, hot sun.
In most of the country, lantana is grown as an annual. It usually dies back when temperatures drop below freezing. But in the mildest climate it can grow to be a good sized woody shrub.
Some varieties of lantana can grow so they are easily trained into a standard or lollipop tree, perfect for growing on the terrace or patio. And if you grow them in a container, you can bring them in during the winter and keep them indoors until next spring. This enables you to grow them no matter where you live.
The showy nature of lantana makes it a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds. And lantana has very few problems with pests. I suppose it's due in part to the aromatic oils in the leaves, much like herbs. Some people find the aroma disagreeable, but I find it nice.
Lantana can suffer from an occasional bout of powdery mildew if it's growing in too much shade, or if you garden in a region where you experience consistent overcast days. This is one plant that loves full hot sun, in fact, the hotter the better.
A variety that has become a favorite of mine is 'Carlos' lantana. I appreciate the clever play on Carlos Santana's name and I love the vibrant color. It is a real showstopper on its own or when planted along with other colorful flowers and foliage. This year I have it planted in a container mixed in with golden creeping Jenny, bouvardia, calico plant 'Party Time' and purple petunias. These companions repeat and reinforce the colors of the showy clusters of reddish-purple, orange and gold lantana blooms. It is an outstanding combination that has performed over the course of the summer and will continue to shine until the first cold days of autumn.
So if what you planted in your garden for full sun fell short of your expectations this year, you might try planting a little lantana in your garden next year.
The above is from the P. Allen Smith weekly newsletter. I look forward to every edition. Enjoy!