Lantana (Lantana camara) is an easy-care flowering bedding plant that you can grow as an annual in all-United States climate zones. Over 150 cultivars include a rainbow of colors, many of which have multi-colored, small flowers in clusters. Lantanas are well-adapted to desert environments because their water needs are few, so if you live in an area that is suffering from a drought, you can enjoy a summer-blooming plant without needing to strain your water budget. You also can grow lantanas as a houseplant.
Caring for Lantana Flowering Plants
Prepare a planting area where your lantana will receive maximum sunlight throughout the day. Lantana is generally a low-growing shrub, so it is effective in the front of flowerbeds. Allow about 3 feet between planting holes and then dig one shovelful of compost into each planting hole. Water the area thoroughly before you plant.
Dig planting holes slightly larger than the rootball of your lantana plant(s) and then set one plant into each hole, firming the soil down around the base. Spread a layer of mulch such as composted leaves on top of the soil around your plant(s). Water thoroughly and continue to water until the new plants begin to show signs of strong new growth. After this time, reduce water to once each week, unless it rains---then water less.
Prune the tips off of the lantana's branches to encourage the plant to become bushy.
Fertilize sparingly. If your soil is rich and you applied a layer of mulch around your plants, fertilize your lantana once each month with a balanced fertilizer such as one having an N-P-K ratio of 20-20-20. Avoid applying fertilizer after September if you live in an area that does not receive frost, which will kill lantana.
Watch for the spider mite insect---if you notice any webbing on your lantana plants, spray them with an insecticidal soap as soon as possible and repeat spraying every two or three days until all signs of this pest disappear.
Create more lantana plants by starting cuttings in the fall before frost kills your plant. Take cuttings about 4 inches long and poke them into a light potting soil in small nursery pots with drainage holes. Keep your pots moist in filtered sun indoors---by spring your new plants will be ready to set out in your garden.