Few plants supply as much long-lasting, dependable color as these tough-as-nails tropical American natives. Tiny flowers in tight clusters that resemble miniature nosegays appear continuously in warm weather. Foliage gives off a pungent odor when brushed against or crushed. Small fruit usually follows the flowers, maturing from green to bluish black; some selections are fruitless. Lantanas thrive in hot, dry weather and tolerate just about any well- drained soil, growing well even near the beach. They're a magnet for butterflies. Plant them in masses, let them cascade over a wall, or display them in window boxes, hanging baskets, or planters. Deer don't usually care for lantana species, but they may browse hybrid types.
L. camara. COMMON LANTANA. The most popular species in the South, and one of two used in hybridizing (the other is L. montevidensis). Coarse, upright plant to 6 ft. tall and wide. Rough-textured, dark green leaves are oval and pointed, to 4 in. long. Yellow, orange, or red flowers in 1- to 2-in. clusters.
L. horrida. TEXAS LANTANA. Native to southern Texas and Mexico. Prickly, coarse shrub, to 3 ft. (rarely 6 ft.) tall and wide. Broadly oval leaves to 3 in. long have pointed tips and coarsely toothed edges. Spreads by shoots that root where they touch the ground. Good ground cover on very dry sites in full sun. Flowers open yellow, age to orange.
L. montevidensis. TRAILING LANTANA. Along with L. camara, this species is used extensively in breeding. A little hardier than L. camara, it's a ground cover to about 2 ft. high, with branches trailing to 3 ft. or even 6 ft. Dark green, inch-long leaves have coarsely toothed edges; sometimes tinged red or purplish, especially in winter. Rosy lilac flowers in 1- to 1-in.-wide clusters. 'Lavender Swirl' is a larger form that produces white, lavender, and white-and-lavender flower clusters. 'Sunny Daze' has leaves attractively edged in creamy yellow and grows more slowly than the species. 'White Lightnin' looks similar but has pure white flowers; it too is a slow grower.
L. selections and hybrids. In this list, some of the selections are forms of L. camara or hybrids between those forms; others are hybrids resulting from crosses between L. camara and L. montevidensis. Lantanas are considered invasive in some areas. Gardeners there should plant fruitless or nearly fruitless selections (noted).
Bandana series. Plants have compact growth to 22 ft. high and wide. Large flowers open yellow and turn orange, pink, or cherry-red.
'Chapel Hill Yellow'. To 1 ft. by 23 ft. Golden yellow. Hardy.
'Christine'. To 6 ft. by 5 ft. Cerise-pink. Can be trained into a small patio tree.
'Confetti'. To 23 ft. by 68 ft. Blossoms in a mix of yellow, pink, and purple.
'Dallas Red'. To 34 ft. by 35 ft. Deep red. Nearly fruitless.
'Gold Mound'. To 3 ft. by 35 ft. Golden yellow. Fruitless.
'Gold Rush'. To 12 ft. by 46 ft. Rich golden yellow.
'Ham and Eggs'. To 2 ft. by 4 ft. Pink with creamy yellow center. Fruitless.
'Irene'. To 3 ft. by 4 ft. Compact. Clusters feature magenta and lemon-yellow flowers.
Landmark series. Dense, mounding plants to 1 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide, in colors of orange, gold, white, peach, pink, and rose. Neat, uniform growth; great in borders.
'Lemon Swirl'. Slow growing to 2 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide. Bright yellow band around each leaf; yellow flowers. Fruitless.
Lucky series. Compact. Bloom early. Good for containers.
'Miss Huff'. To 35 ft. by 10 ft. Orange and pink. Hardier than other lantanas, surviving 3F. Nearly fruitless.
'New Gold'. To 23 ft. by 68 ft. Golden yellow. Fruitless.
Patriot series. Plants range from 1215 in. high and wide to 45 ft. tall and wide, depending on selection. Flowers in single shade and different combinations of yellow, pink, purple, orange, and red. Nearly fruitless.
'Pinkie'. To 1 ft. by 3 ft. Pink and cream. Fruitless.
'Radiation'. To 35 ft. high and wide. Rich orange-red.
'Silver Mound'. To 2 ft. tall and wide. Cream blossoms with golden yellow centers.
'Spreading Sunset'. To 23 ft. by 68 ft. Vivid orange-red.
'Spreading Sunshine'. To 23 ft. by 68 ft. Bright yellow.
'Star Landing'. To 2 ft. by 68 ft. Yellow and orange to red and orange. Hardy and fruitless.
'Sunburst'. To 23 ft. by 68 ft. Bright golden yellow.
'Sunny Side Up'. To 1 ft. by 3 ft. Open yellow changing to white with yellow center.
'Tangerine'. To 23 ft. by 68 ft. Burnt orange.
L. trifolia. LAVENDER POPCORN. Zone TS; USDA 10-11. Somewhat rangy, sparsely branched shrub to 35 ft. tall and half as wide. Medium green leaves to 5 in. long, whorled around branches in groups of three. Dense clusters of pink, lavender, or purple blossoms appear in conjunction with showy spikes of lavender-purple fruit that resembles that of beautyberry (Callicarpa).
Lantanas are treated as annuals in most of the Upper and Middle South, as perennials elsewhere. Where they overwinter, prune back hard in early spring to remove dead wood and encourage vigorous new growth. Unpruned plants may become large, woody shrubs. Feed and water lightly, as too much fertilizer and water will reduce bloom.