Say yes to tolerant lantana for summer color

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 5, 2011

By Katie Baros
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — If you have been by the Agricultural Center on Old Concord Road lately, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten a glimpse of one of the newest projects, a lantana variety study. The purpose of this comparative visual study is to determine which varieties of lantana perform best in our region.
The study includes 15 different varieties of lantana selected from local garden centers to represent a wide range of colors, types and sizes. Keep in mind that there are more than 100 different varieties of lantana, so the study only covers a small portion of the types that are available. The lantana garden contains blooms in yellow, red, orange, white and purple, both mounding and trailing varieties, and plants with mature heights ranging from 12 inches to 6 feet tall.
The planting was initiated on May 24 and finished on June 14. Since then, each plant has been carefully observed, monitoring its health and growth. After keeping the plants moist for a few weeks to make sure they were well established, the frequency of the watering was reduced to test the lantana’s tolerance for dry conditions.
The good news is that every variety has grown tremendously and not a single plant was lost. Some varieties seem to have performed better than others. For example, the Dallas Red lantana has thrived while the Golden Zinger has shown relatively moderate growth.
So what can you expect from lantana planted in your own garden? Upon careful observation, it was learned that while lantana was initially slow to grow, after a few weeks the plants began to flourish and grow rapidly. It was also discovered that lantana lived up to its claim of being quite tolerant to hot, dry conditions. Once your lantana is established, you can reduce your watering to only a few times per week. As advertised, the lantana has attracted numerous bees and butterflies, so expect these beneficial insects to make your yard one of their favorite hangouts.
Lantana is a great choice for your yard if you’re looking for a colorful, easy to care for plant. One word of caution though, for all of its wonderful qualities, lantana may not be the best choice if Fido likes to nibble in your garden. Unfortunately, lantana can be poisonous to pets.
This is an ongoing project, so come by and take a look at the lantana garden and see which varieties may be a good fit for your yard. Brochures will be available on site with additional information about lantana and continuing results of the study. The study is located beside the greenhouse at the Agriculture Center on Old Concord Road in Salisbury. You cannot miss this colorful display.
Katie Baros is a program assistant at the Cooperative Extension Service, Rowan County Center. Phone, 704-216-8970.
www.rowanmastergardener. com