Gardeners in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 7 benefit from the beautiful flowers and foliage of the compact lantana. This herbaceous shrub produces blooms all summer and reaches up to 3 feet high when left to grow unchecked. The compact name of this plant deceives gardeners into thinking lantana requires little maintenance. Trimming a compact lantana plant encourages new flower production and controls the shrub within available garden space.
Prune the compact lantana in spring, when new growth appears. Pruning too late in the fall or in the winter shocks the plant and often results in death.
Determine how much your want to shape and size the plant. Compact lantana reaches mature growth sizes of over 3 feet high and 6 feet wide. Decide how much you want to prune the plant to plan the grooming session. Considerations include proximity to other plants and structures as well as air circulation around the plant.
Select the correct tool for pruning. Pruning clippers feature a sharp, curved blade for cutting branches up to 1/2 inch in diameter. Choose pruning loppers to tackle larger branches, up to 2 inches in diameter.
Remove dead, dying or dried foliage first. Clip each section to the nearest healthy stem or branch using sharp pruning shears. Make cuts at the point where the branches meet and leave as small a nub as possible. Aim for a smooth transition that produces a small cut where the damaged branch meets a neighboring branch.
Thin the compact lantana to open up the center of the plant. Select randomly spaced branches for removal. Trim each branch to the main plant stem or to the soil level. Make cuts at a 45-degree angle as close as possible on the trunk. Each cut should be flush with a branch and no nub should protrude from an adjoining branch.
Perform a type of pruning called "heading back" to remove older wood from the lantana. Heading involves clipping back branches to an outward facing bud. Buds represent potential new limb growth. Use sharp shears to place a cut with the bud on side and the cut on another. New growth will develop to fill in this location. Space heading cuts evenly throughout the plant to reduce the volume of foliage.
Clip back dying flowers behind the flower head to encourage more blooms throughout the growing season. Collect all plant clippings and dispose of in the compost pile or in garden waste bags for recycling.