Gardening with Micki: Lantana — A summer sun lover

Lantana is an annual flower that loves the sun and thrives beautifully throughout summer’s mercurial temperatures. It is also a flower tolerant of Oklahoma’s varied soil content, depending on which area of the state it’s planted. It does prefer a well-drained loose, slightly acidic soil. 

I’ve always thought of lantana as a flower. Google calls it “a weed — an aggressive plant.” I was offended by that description — a harsh assessment of a beautiful, dependable summer flower. I always mix lantana in very large flower pots with other summer bloomers with contrasting colors, especially any plant, like petunias or pansies, with purple hues.

It is a spreader and likes to form a dense thicket of blooms and leaves. So choosing the appropriate place or pot to plant it is important. The pots that host lantana must have a good drainage hole. These flowers do not like mud. A plus — they are also toxic to rabbits and deer. 

Lantanas, also mixed with zinnias, seem comfortable in my large pots. They are perfect for hanging baskets. They are also quite compatible when planted with Angelonia, Pentas and Salvia. Lantanas are similar to hydrangeas in their bloom, but they are a completely different breed of flower.

This is also a pretty carefree plant. They aren’t ever very thirsty and can get by on about one inch of water a week. They love rainwater too. They are also tall enough to make a great show in the garden. They grow to 12 to 14 inches and spread easily up to 10 to 12 inches. Remove spent blooms to encourage new growth. This is a plant you definitely don’t have to baby all summer.

I love the brilliant colors of lantana. It’s best known for its orange and golden yellow blooms. There are also purple, hot pink and fuchsia varieties — perfect complements to other flowers and greenery in your garden. I also like that it blooms all summer. You really get your money’s worth with Lantana.

There is a new lantana. It’s called a “Bloomfly™ Lantana,” and it’s the first sterile lantana to be created so it won’t go out of flower in summer. This new perennial species attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, always welcome garden visitors.

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