One of the most visually attractive garden plants, the lantana is prized for its bright, colorful flower clusters which sit above rich green foliage. A satisfyingly long lasting plant, with the right care and in the right conditions, they can flower from spring until early winter.
An ideal choice if you want to add a pop of color to your garden there are currently over 150 types of lantana currently available. This list is designed to highlight some of the more attractive and versatile types.
These flowers are a reliable way to add long lasting color to the garden.
What is Lantana?
A member of the verbena family, many types of lantana are popular plants for their long lasting. Even in warm, hot climates these reliable plants continue to produce colorful new flower clusters.
The large, colorful flowers which emerge in clusters above rich, green foliage not only add interest to the garden, they are also popular with butterflies and other beneficial insects. As the flowers mature, they change color. Further adding to the attraction, many types of lantana are also aromatic.
Typically a low maintenance plant, making them ideal for new or nervous gardeners, most types of lantana are hardy enough to tolerate a range of soil conditions. While preferring a regular watering routine, once established these are drought tolerant plants.
A versatile plant, the different types of lanata can be used as ground cover, in hanging baskets, containers, flower beds or even grown as houseplants.
These plants are best planted in direct sun. While they can grow in shady spots, flowering may not be as profuse. During the spring and summer months, the plants require regular watering, especially if they are planted in full sun. The soil should be consistently moist and ideally slightly acidic.
Typically perennial, some cultivars can be herbaceous or shrubby, reaching up to 6 ft. Most examples are native to areas of the Americas and Africa.
Differences with Verbena Plants
Known for their colorful flowers, both plants belong to the Verbenaceae family. This means that they can look similar. They also have similar uses in the garden. Both are popular ornamental choices for flower beds and borders. They can also provide colorful ground cover. However, there are some differences.
The key difference is that verbenas are more cold hardy than most types of lantana. Typically the plants are hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11. In cooler zones they are best grown as summer annuals. In USDA Zones 8 you can also try covering the plants with a protective fleece or mulch or, if you are growing in pots, moving them inside for the winter months. However, even with protection the more sensitive types of lantana may not survive. Verbena plants are hardy in USDA Zones 7 to 10 and can be grown as annuals in colder areas.
Members of the same family, these plants are often confused with verbena.
While lantana plants continue to flower in dry heat and humid conditions, verbena plants typically stop flowering if the weather gets too hot.
Typically an evergreen shrub, the scrambling growth habit of these plants means that they can be trained to scale trellising. Conversely verbenas are herbaceous perennials.
Both plants produce floral clusters in a range of colors. While verbena flowers are tubular, typically 2 to 3 inches wide, lantana flowers are smaller, rarely exceeding 2 inches wide. They also form in tighter clusters than verbenas. While most types of lantana flower throughout the year, verbenas flower only during the summer and early fall.
Warning, the leaves and the berries of all types of lantana are poisonous. If you have children or pets, the plants should be avoided or placed out of reach.
The Shrub cultivar is a compact, upright plant. In ideal condition the plants can reach 6 ft tall, however they are often smaller. Many L. Camara cultivars have a mature height of between 2 and 6 ft. Hardy in USDA Zones 10 to 12, they can spread between 3 and 10 ft. Native to southern parts of the United States, these plants are known for their quick growth rate. In warmer areas they can grow up to 5 ft in one year. This means that you will need to regularly trim the plants to keep them neat and tidy.
Unlike other types of lantana, Shrub cultivars are not easily available in plant nurseries. However the plants’ large, bright flowers in shades of soft coral, rich red and bright yellow and orange make tracking them down well worth the effort. The Shrub is also one of the more high maintenance types of lantana requiring rich soil, regular watering and at least 4 hours of sun a day.
These plants are grown primarily for their bright, long lasting flowers.
2 L. Montevidensis
Montevidensis plants are trailing types of lantana. Typically a low growing variety, Montevidensis plants rarely exceed 18 inches in height. Their spreading nature, a mature plant can spread between 5 and 10 ft, makes these a good choice for rock gardens or spilling over the edges of planters, walls and pots.
Flowering in various shades of purple, some types of Montevidensis have a white center, further adding to their attraction. You may also find yellow flowering cultivars. However these are not true L. Montevidensis plants but a hybrid, crossed with yellow L. Camara plants.
As well as a good ground cover plant, trailing types of lantana can also be trained to grow up a trellis or other structure. L. Montevidensis, like many other types of lantana, are best planted in well draining soil and watered regularly. Hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 12, the more sun the plants are exposed to the more heavily they flower.
The spreading nature of trailing varieties can be trained or utilized as ground cover.
Popcorn (L. Trifolia) is one of the most unusual types of lantana. Unlike other cultivars these plants are not cultivated solely for their showy flowers but also for their ornamental fruit.
Popcorn plants can be divided into two varieties: Fruity Pebbles and Lavender Popcorn. Native to Central and South America these plants do best in rich soil and warm or hot conditions. They can also be planted in sandy soil, but more frequent watering is required. Thriving best in tropical or subtropical areas, the Popcorn cultivars are identified by their darkly colored green leaves which, as the scientific name Trifolia suggests, grow in groups of 3.
An upright shrub, Popcorn can achieve a height and spread of between 2 and 6 ft. Hardy in USDA Zones 10 and 11, while Popcorn won’t survive a deep frost, growers in milder parts of zones 8 and 9 can try cutting the plants back in winter and covering with a mulch or horticultural fleece. The Valibe Plant Cover is made from lightweight, breathable material meaning that while your plants are protected from the ravages of winter they won’t be smothered or starved or air and moisture.
For some varieties both ornamental fruit and colorful flowers provide interest.
4 L. Horrida
Native to parts of Mexico, South America and the West Indies, L. Horrida plants can be found growing in a range of habitats, including forests, savannas and grasslands. One of the more cold hardy types of lantana, Horrida flowers profusely throughout the summer and fall in Texas. The name Horrida refers to the pungent smell that the plants emit.
Typically sold as a summer bedding plant, L. Horrida usually grows to about 1 ft and spreads just as wide. A herbaceous perennial, when in flower, L. Horrida is covered with attractive clusters of purple, orange, yellow, red and white flowers. Ideal for butterfly gardens as well as rock gardens and xeric planting schemes where they are a reliable source of long lasting color.
In the right conditions, these plants flower profusely.
Be careful or wear gloves when handling L. Horrida. The black buds that appear before flowering can be poisonous.
5 Calico Bush
The Calico Bush (L. Urticoides) is commonly found in parts of Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and parts of the Gulf Coast. Also known as the West Indian Shrub these plants typically grow to between 2 to 3 ft tall and can spread up to 6 ft. This cultivar is hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 11.
- Urticoides is often confused with L. Horrida because the flowers are similar shades. However the Calico Bush enjoys a longer flowering period. While L. Horrida flowers during the summer and fall months, Calico Bush starts to flower in the spring. The attractive blooms can last until the first frosts of winter.
The foliage of L. Urticoides, forms in pairs, pushing out in opposite directions to create an elegant, leafy frame which showcases the flowers. Like many other types of lantana, it is the flowers that are the true star of the show. The Calico Bush produces long lasting, vibrant, tubular flowers which emerge in colorful clusters in shades of yellow, red and orange.
Orange flowering varieties are particularly attractive.
One of the simpler looking cultivars, L. Involucrata or Buttonsage is prized for its pristine white flowers which have a button-like yellow center. Native to the tropical parts of the Americas, such as southern Florida, these are medium sized shrubs, typically reaching a height and spread of between 4 and 8 ft.
Best planted in rich soil, this is one of the more resilient types of lantana meaning that it also grows in poor soil. However, flowering may not be as profuse nor the colors of the flowers as rich. A reliable ornamental plant, L. Involucrata can also be grown as a houseplant. The showy foliage is also fragrant, emitting a sage-like aroma when crushed. If planted outside, L Involucrata draws scores of butterflies and pollinators throughout the spring and summer months.
White flowering varieties are particularly attractive.
7 L. Pastazensis
Another member of the Verbena family, these types of lantana are rarely seen outside its native Ecuador. Here its growth is restricted to certain areas, typically the lowland areas of tropical forests. Hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 11, in comparison to other types of lantana, relatively little is known about L. Pastazensis.
When in flower, L. Pastazensis produces white flowers with rich yellow centers which sit above rich, green foliage. While this may seem attractive, Pastazensis is best avoided. It contains pentacyclic terpenoids. This makes the plants highly toxic.
8 Bandana Cherry
One of the more standout types of lantana, Bandana Cherry produces cherry-red flowers, the centers of which can be pink, yellow or orange. Popular with both butterflies and hummingbirds, these tender perennials are typically grown as warm season annuals, flowering from early spring until the first frosts of fall arrive.
Known for its vigorous, mounding growth habit, in favorable growing conditions, Bandana Cherry plants typically reach between 12 to 26 inches tall and achieve a spread of around 2 ft. This makes them a colorful groundcover choice. A L. Camara cultivar, the plants are hardy in USDA Zones 10 to 12. Like many other types of lantana, these plants are both drought and heat tolerant once established. As well as flower beds and borders, Bandana Cherry is ideal for large planters and hanging baskets.
Deep red flowering varieties add contrast to paler flower clusters.
9 Pink Dawn
Prized for its creamy yellow flowers that turn an attractive shade of pale pink as they mature, Pink Dawn is one of the more subtle types of lantana. But this doesn’t mean that it is any less attractive. The beautiful pink flowers are a great way to introduce subtle color to a space. A sterile variety, these plants do not set seed or spread uncontrolled through the garden.
Pink Dawn is a compact, low growing shrub. Ideal for flower beds and borders, depending on the growing conditions it can reach between 2 and 3 ft in height and spread. A L. Camara cultivar, the plants are hardy in USDA Zones 8 and warmer.
Pink flowering varieties, like other types, are popular with butterflies.
If you are a fan of pink flowers in your garden, Bandana Pink is another popular choice. A great compliment to Pink Dawn, Bandana Pink flowers are initially baby pink before maturing to a richer pink shade.
10 Pot of Gold
As the name suggests, Pot of Gold with its bright yellow flowers, is one of the brightest types of lantana. The eye-catching flowers contrast nicely with the plant’s green foliage.
A member of the L. Camara family, Pot of Gold is one of the more compact types of lantana, typically reaching 15 inches tall and wide. This makes it ideal for pots and container gardens. Hardy in USDA Zones 10 and warmer, in cooler climates try placing the pots on a Metal Plant Caddy. This enables you to move delicate flowers to a warmer, sheltered position for the winter months before returning them to their preferred position in the spring.
Flowering profusely from early summer until the fall, what sets Pot of Gold apart from other varieties is that while other types of lantana produce florets of different colors, Pot of Gold flowers are only yellow in color.
Bright, yellow flowers add pops of color to the flower bed.
Packed with color and easy to care for, whichever type of lantana you decide to grow, these elegant, eye-catching plants that are sure to be a hit in your garden.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.