With the heat of summer already here, we all know that our pansies, petunias and snapdragons are on their way out. This leaves us wondering what we could plant that will give us color throughout summer and fall to the first frost.
Many are weary of Lantana camara, the common garden lantana, because of its potential as an invasive species and large rampant size. Good news, there are several dwarf cultivars that have no invasive potential because they are sterile. Additionally, many other dwarf cultivars grow slow and produce few seed, so they have low invasive potential.
Northwest Florida is not in the natural range of the endangered South Florida native Lantana depressa, so the outcrossing danger does not exist in our area.
Dwarf lantanas are available in either mounding or trailing types. Mounding types rarely get over 1 foot tall and have an equal spread while trailing lantanas stay lower to the ground but can spread several feet. They are available in several colors including yellow, purple, white, multicolor and red. They provide reliable color in flushes from late spring until first frost
When mature, dwarf lantana are drought tolerant but need supplemental watering to get established. They also thrive in poor soils and need little fertilization.
Dwarf lantana usually acts as a perennial, but die to the roots during extremely cold winters.
Lantanas that are known to be relatively non-invasive include Patriot, Hallelujah, Sunburst, and Cowboy. Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council recognizes the cultivars ‘Gold Mound’, ‘New Gold’, ‘Alba’ and ‘Patriot’ as cultivars that are not known to produce viable seeds. Other newer dwarf varieties need to be evaluated on a case by case basis, but varieties the author has observed as no to low seed set in the landscape. Also if home gardeners are worried about seed production, spent blooms can be pinched off so no seed can form. This pinching off practice also speeds up re-bloom and is thus highly encouraged.