When you walk through the perennials at Rainbow Gardens, you are bound to see a flurry of butterfly action in the lantana section. Profuse, vibrant blooms on a nectar rich plant leaves no doubt as to why the pollinators make lantana a favorite stop for a sip. Today we take a look at some of the different varieties you can most likely find at Rainbow Gardens, and why we love this plant for our San Antonio climate.

Sizes of Lantana and Popular Varieties

 

You can find a lantana to suit most any sunny area you wish to plant in. The general growth habits consist of: common bushy upright, dwarf/compact mounding, and spreading or trailing. All mature growth of lantana will depend on care given and the elements, but the following are average heights and widths you can expect when figuring out the right size for your needs.

Dallas Red lantana

Common upright lantana have an average growth of 2’- 6’ tall x 2’- 6’ wide. You can see this has a wide range of mature growth because there are many varieties within this category. Always look up the specifications for your particular plant. 

Common upright lantanas can be used as stand alone specimens or as shrubs in sunny areas. They also fill out a large container nicely. Some of our most popular sellers in this category include: Radiation, Confetti (spreads wider than grows tall), Pink Caprice, Salsa, and Irene. These are all non-native and produce seeds.

New Gold™ lantana in the landscape.
New gold lantana in urban pollinator gardens.

Dwarf/Compact lantana come in both mounding and trailing varieties. You can expect an average height of 1’-1.5’’ tall and wide for dwarf mounding, and 1’ tall and several feet of spread for dwarf trailing varieties. Dwarf varieties are great foreground perennials and make excellent selections for potted plants. Gold mound, New Gold (spreading habit, but also dwarf) and Patriot selections are some of the dwarf/compact varieties that are also considered non-invasive as they are not known to produce viable seeds. (More about that below.) Bandana, Dallas Red, Carlos, and Anne Marie are popular varieties at the nursery, but they do produce seeds. 

Close up of Purple trailing flowers
Hummingbird moth.
Spreading or trailing lantana have an average growth of 1’-2’ tall, spreading 3’-5’. Trailing lantanas are great choices for sunny site groundcovers, or fronts of perennial beds, and look fantastic in hanging baskets or as the spiller in a container arrangement. Trailing varieties can also be helpful for erosion control on slopes. 

New Gold, Weeping Lavender and Weeping White are sterile varieties. Popular non-sterile varieties are Purple Trailing (Lantana montevidensis), White Trailing, Lavender Swirl. 

Texas Lantana
Butterfly on native Texas lantana.
Native lantana has an average growth of 2’- 4’ tall x 2’- 5-wide. Texas lantana (Lantana horrida or Lantana urticoides) is a native variety. More native plants in the landscape help to restore our local ecosystem. Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides) starts off with golden yellow flowers that turn to a rich shade of orange and red. What a vibrant variety to add to your butterfly gardens to help support our local wildlife.

Sterile VS. Non-Sterile Lantana

Now a little about those seeds mentioned above. Keep in mind that Lantana camara varieties can be considered invasive due to the easy spread of the plants by birds eating their berries and depositing them all over the place. The plants can quickly invade areas of disturbed land and can take over, essentially choking out native plants. All lantanas have a toxicity level as well because of their leaves, but non-sterile varieties produce berries which are also toxic. 

Good news though, new varieties of sterile lantana are becoming more common and easier to find. These sterile varieties of lantana do not form berries but still bloom just as profusely as non-sterile plants. Besides sterile varieties, you can also find native lantana (horrida/urticoides) commonly in stock. If you are concerned about the spread of non-native plants, native or sterile plants are best followed by dwarf/compact varieties because they produce fewer berries than other lantana. New Gold, Dwarf Pinkie, Samantha (Lemon Swirl), Weeping Lavender and Weeping White are all sterile varieties, while Texas lantana is a native.

How to Care for Lantana

All lantanas prefer sun, and well-draining soil. They are heat and drought tolerant once established, deer resistant with minimal other pest or disease issues (though lace bugs can often target them). Lantanas can be pruned modestly throughout the growing season for a more compact, bushier growth. Late winter or early spring, they can be cut down to the ground to remerge once weather warms up. A thick layer of mulch protects the roots of lantana through winter from temperatures that get colder than 28°.