Lantana camara ( Verbena )

Lantana is well loved for its colored flowers and ease of care. Considered an invasive weed in some areas it will grow happily in your garden down here. Moths and butterflies will make good use of this plant. I have it out back in my bee-butterfly-hummingbird garden.

Several varieties exist of Lantana. A general rule of thumb is that shorter varieties flower more than taller varieties. I’m told it can grow to 6′ tall, I’ve yet to see it more than a couple feet tall and that is rare. Leaves have an unpleasant smell when crushed.

Small flowers form in clusters and it blooms through out the warm weather. Flowers come in yellow, oranges, reds and multi-color varieties.

It is not very cold tolerant, losing it’s leaves in mild winters and dying back to the ground in colder winters. This year we had several hard frosts and it’s early April with no sign of life yet from this plant, but in May it reappeared and has been growing with a vengance.

It will grow in just about any soil, and in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist soil but well drained soil. Once established it is drought tolerant.

Leaves, flowers and berries can be toxic. The berries are the most toxic but lose some toxicity as they ripen.

They are not easy to grow from seed, stem cuttings are best. Lantana can be cut back to the ground if it gets out of control. It is often used as a border plant because you can cut it back and keep it neat.

Older varieties have multicolored flowers, the same colors you see in a plate of ham and eggs. It is often referred to as the ‘ham and eggs plant’. In Asia it is known as ‘chicken dropping’ plant because of the smell of the leaves. I’ve not noticed a smell from the plant myself.

Be sure you like it before you plant it, it may be tough to eradicate.

Prune freely, this can be pruned to the ground if you wish. Protect the crown of the plant with mulch in the winter.

These are usually care free plants but occasionally you may have a white fly problem.

Thrived through the drought and heat of summer 2011

3 thoughts on “Lantana camara ( Verbena )

  1. I used to pick these flowers out of my Grandmothers garden and use them as wedding bouquets for my Barbies! She had the multi colored flowers.

  2. That’s cool. I hadn’t even thought about what to do with such tiny flowers.

    Wow! 6′! This one has been cut back and moved a fair bit. Amazingly it has thrived despite me abusing it.

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