By: Kristi Waterworth
Lantanas are amazingly reliable and beautiful members of the landscape, but sometimes they just won’t bloom. The delicate, clustered flowers of lantana attract butterflies and passersby alike, but when these sturdy, dependable bushes are more fizzle than sizzle, you may start searching for ways of making lantana bloom. No flowers on lantana have a number of causes, but by far the most common cause is planting them in the wrong spot. If your lantana won’t bloom, take a look at these reasons why a lantana does not flower.
Even though lantana is usually blooming when you buy it at the nursery, it may not continue to bloom once you plant it. This is a common problem for all shrubs after transplantation – all the manipulation of roots and change of scenery can cause a significant amount of shock that causes flowers and buds to drop shortly after planting. It’s a normal reaction that will clear up over time, but if an established lantana does not flower, you’ve probably got one of these problems on your hands:
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Annual in Zones 1-8, perennial in Zones 9-11. Some varieties act as a tender perennial in Zones 7-8.
Lantana can reach 2 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 10 feet wide when grown as a perennial. In areas where treated as an annual, lantana grow 3 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide in a single season.
Full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours a day.
Late spring through frost when treated as an annual nearly year-round in frost-free regions.
Flower clusters 1 to 2 inches across are solid or multicolored, some changing as they age. Colors include yellow, orange, red, purple, white, coral, and peach. Non-sterile varieties produce small berries after flowering.
Green or variegated foliage is rough textured, oval shaped, and can get up to four inches long. When brushed up against, the leaves have a pungent, sage-like scent. Young annuals have fleshy stems, while older plants become woody.
Lantana can be harmful to children, pets, and livestock. The leaves can cause brief skin irritation or a rash. Though all parts of the plant are poisonous, the berries are the most toxic, and can be fatal if ingested. See more Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats.
I bought a lantana and it has stopped blooming, formed small green pods but no new flowers. What do I do?
Cut off the pods. These are seed pods and when these form, the plant thinks it no longer needs to flower as it has accomplished its goal. Plants flower so that they can reproduce. If you prevent them from reproducing, they will keep flowering in order to keep trying to make seeds.
Q. I have been trying to start lantana from seed and cannot seem to make anything work. What am I doing wrong?
A. Lantana, Lantana camara, is a popular shrub in all areas of the country, whether grown in the ground or in pots. The multicolored flowers can lend a rich accent to garden landscapes every-where. In Southern California, lantana is considered a year-round garden plant, but in colder areas, it is treated as an annual.
Thrifty gardeners in these colder locations often take cuttings from their lantana plants during the summer and keep the rooted cuttings indoors until winter has passed and they can be returned to the garden.
To propagate lantana from cuttings, take a 6- to 8-inch cutting from the most recent growth. You should have at least two nodes (places where leaves grow from the twig) on each cutting. Snip off any flowers and remove the leaves from the lowest node. Plant the twig with the lowest node covered by the soil. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Lantana roots very easily in summer, so now is a good time to give this a try. The use of a rooting hormone may increase your success rate, but I have not found it to be necessary.
Lantana is also easily grown from seed, which can be started indoors any time of the year. Simply plant the seed in a sterile commercial soil mix formulated for starting seed, covering the seed lightly with the planting mix.
You should keep the soil damp but not wet while waiting for germination to take place. The ideal soil temperature for seed germination is 70 to 75 degrees. Patience will be necessary since germination typically takes six to eight weeks. Because of this long germination period, it is essential to use sterile soil mix to prevent soil-borne diseases, and water carefully to avoid rotting of the seeds themselves.
Whether you choose to grow them from seed or cuttings, your efforts will be rewarded with a supply of drought-tolerant shrubs that can provide your garden with mounds of bright color.
Q. We are doing some home improvements and had to cut back a large tree branch that was about 4 inches in diameter. It was cut off to the trunk. Should I tar the cut end of the branch to prevent any disease from getting into the tree?
A. Make sure the cut end is nice and smooth, not ragged. You don’t need to apply any tree-wound sealant because the tree is capable of producing its own barriers to decay-producing fungi.
Ottillia “Toots” Bier has been a UC Cooperative Extension master gardener since 1980. Send comments and questions to [email protected]
Include lantana in a butterfly garden for its nectar-laden blooms, and use it in plantings that feature deer- and rabbit-resistant plants. Lantana leaves are sandpapery and have a strong odor that critters dislike. Leaves have been shown to make pets and livestock ill when consumed.
The heat-tolerant lantana is among this list of vibrant flowers and plants butterflies love.
Try adding lantana or one of these other plant picks if bunnies are eating your garden.
Some species of lantana are invasive and have escaped home gardens to populate natural landscapes. Lantana camara or common lantana has strong invasive tendencies. As mentioned earlier, if you grow a lantana plant that produces black berries and you live in Zones 8 to 10, it’s a good idea to remove spent flowers from plants to prevent berry formation. You can do this easily by lighting pruning lantana after flowering.
Trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis) opens lavender flowers with yellow throats. It has trailing stems that spread up to five feet—and more. Many homeowners use this lantana plant as a ground cover or planted atop retaining walls where stems can trail gracefully. Also known as purple lantana, this species is a good choice for erosion control on slopes.
In regions where lantana isn’t winter hardy, treat it as an annual. Many lantana hybrids exist with a variety of flower colors and plant sizes. Some lantana plants are bred to stay short and stocky others tend to branch more freely. Check pot tags carefully to make sure you’re buying the kind of lantana you want.
Lantana adds strong color to container gardens filled with a commercial soil-less mix developed for container use. In pots, lantana plants need regular watering due to the confined quarters. Use a bloom booster fertilizer to encourage strong flowering.