Lantana Camara: Texas Lantana
Turn up the color in your garden with the non-stop flowers of Lantana camara. Also known as common lantana or shrub verbena, Lantana camara opens blossoms by the dozens in every region all summer long. While Lantana camara is native to South Texas, it’s not the lantana commonly known as Texas lantana. That beauty is Lantana horrida, which has yellow-orange blossoms.
Lantana camara stages floral fireworks of its own, though, opening spherical flower heads packed with individual blossoms. The flower heads are usually 1 to 2 inches across and feature a rainbow of colors. Buds start one color, open to reveal another hue and can easily shift through several other shades before fading. From a distance, the multicolored flower may appear orange or yellow, but as you come closer, you may discover individual blossoms in several shades of rose, gold, red, tangerine and even white.
Lantana camara blooms beckon butterflies and other pollinators like crazy. It’s a perfect plant to include in a butterfly garden to serve nectar to the winged insects. Bees also flock to the blooms, as do other beneficial insects.
A native of South Texas and tropical regions in Central and South America, Lantana camara is winter hardy in Zones 9 and 10. In Zone 8, plants are root hardy, meaning that temperatures of 28°F kill plants to the ground, but roots remain alive and resprout in spring. A thick mulch around the base of Lantana camara plants can help them overwinter reliably in Zone 8 and occasionally in Zone 7b during mild winters.
Heat- and drought-tolerant, Lantana camara is versatile in the landscape. Plants tolerate high heat, humidity and drought. They soak up sun without missing a blooming beat and crave well-drained soil. Lantana camara also tolerates salt spray and sandy soil, which makes it a frequent landscape choice in coastal areas. Gardeners in regions with water use restrictions rely on lantana to create mounding color that doesn’t demand excess irrigation.
Lantana camara typically grows 36 to 72 inches tall and wide in regions where it’s winter hardy. In other areas, this beauty can quickly reach 36 to 48 inches tall and 12 to 36 inches wide in the course of a single growing season. Flowering usually starts in early summer and continues non-stop until fall frost.
It’s tough to beat this bloomer for versatility in the garden. Lantana camara is equally at home in containers, hanging baskets and landscape beds. In warmest regions, it’s frequently used as part of shrub borders or as a low hedge. Lantana camara has escaped cultivation and is classified as an invasive plant in Hawaii, Florida and Texas. Never dig naturalized plants in these areas to add to your garden. Instead, purchase commercially available varieties that won’t spread.
Lantana camara forms berried fruits that, when unripe, are quite toxic. Leaves have an unpleasant odor when crushed and have been known to poison pets and livestock. Deer and rabbits leave this plant alone.