Gardeners love not only the brilliant splashes of color that lantana gives the garden, but find that these versatile plants excel as potted and hanging basket specimens as well. These relatives of common verbena love sun and fertile, well-draining soil. Happily, they're seldom attacked by most insects and diseases. Hardy only in USDA Planting Zones 9 through 12, it's easy to take cuttings from your favorite lantana to fill your garden with nearly care-free color next spring.
Take 4- to 6-inch cuttings from this year's green or semi-brown, nonflowering lantana shoots between mid-summer and early fall. Keep the cut stem ends moist.
Combine equal parts peat moss and perlite. Fill the cells in a plastic starter six-pack with the mixture to about ¼ to ½ inch from the tops. Set the starter tray in a shallow container of water until the surface of the medium feels evenly moist. Take it out of the water and let it drain for 1 to 2 hours.
Strip the leaves from the lower halves of the cut stems. Moisten the bottom ½ to 1 inch of the stems, and dip them in powdered rooting hormone. Tap the excess powder from the stems. Poke a 1-inch hole in the center of the soil in each six-pack cell. Plant a stem in each hole, and gently firm the soil around it.
Seal the starter tray in a clear plastic bag, and poke a few holes in it with a toothpick to facilitate air circulation. Place it in a spot with bright, filtered light out of cool drafts, and maintain the temperature between 60 and 70 degrees F. Lantana cuttings should root in about two to three weeks.
Open the plastic bag each day to make sure that the medium surface remains evenly moist. If excess condensation begins to form inside the bag, open it up to air the cuttings for a few hours. Don't allow the rooting medium to dry out, but it should never be soggy, either.
Remove the plastic bag and move the starter tray to a warm, bright windowsill when you begin seeing new growth on the cuttings. Keep them evenly moist.
Apply an all-purpose liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Pinch the tips of new growth when they've grown 2 to 3 inches to encourage fullness and bushy new shoots.
Move your young lantana plants to their permanent homes in full sun in the garden in the spring, after all danger of frost for your area has passed.