Growing Texas Lantana: Top Tips for Lantana urticoides

Looking for a tough yet beautiful plant to fill a hot, sunny spot? Texas lantana (L. urticoides) is a great choice for tricky spots in the garden where the hose doesn’t reach. These drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, and pest-free plants bloom with bright, multi-colored flowers when it’s hot outside, attracting butterflies, bees, and birds to your landscape. They need little maintenance and grow quickly in sites with poor soil and full sun exposure. Here, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about growing and caring for Texas Lantana, including planting, soil considerations, light preferences, feeding, pruning, and over-winter care. 

How to Grow Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides)

How to Grow Texas Lantana – Key Takeaways

Botanical Name:Lantana urticoides
Also Known As:Texas lantana, calico bush, West Indian shrub-verbena
Hardiness Zones:USDA zones 8 to 11
Flowering Months:May through November
Growing Difficulty:Easy
Type of Plant:Deciduous shrub/perennial
Light Requirements:Full sun
Temp & Humidity:Thrives in hot, dry conditions
Watering Needs:Once a week
Soil Preferences:Poor, well-drained soil that’s acidic or slightly acidic (from 5.5 to 6.5 pH)
Feeding:Not required.
Growth Expectations:2-6 feet tall and wide
Toxicity:Berries are toxic for humans, pets and livestock; foliage may cause skin rash

How to Grow Texas Lantana

Yellow Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides) flowers in bloom in a garden bed

What are the best locations to plant?

Texas lantana thrives in hot, dry spots and poor, well-drained soils. They’re a great choice for rocky areas or sites in the landscape that aren’t irrigated or can’t be easily reached by hose.

What are the best times of year to plant?

If you’re looking to propagate Texas lantana from seed, it’s best to start the process towards the end of winter. Plant them in a light-medium. They’ll germinate in 40 to 60 days typically. Then, move them to the garden when seedlings are at least three inches tall after the danger of frost has passed. 

Young nursery plants can be transferred to your garden plot in early spring.

What to do before planting

Colorful Texas Lantana flowers in bloom

Before planting, testing soil drainage in your chosen location is always prudent. Texas lantana really needs a well-draining soil base. 

A good tip is to dig a 12-inch deep hole about 8 to 12 inches wide. Fill the hole with water and wait for it to drain.

Twelve hours later, fill the hole with water again. Keep track of how long it takes to drain. Well-draining soil will be drained in under 3 hours. Improve drainage by amending soil with sand or vermiculite.

What’s the best soil

Texas lantana needs very well-draining soil. It also thrives in poor soil, making it a good choice for tough spots. It prefers acidic to slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

How to plant

Loosen the soil and dig a hole that’s the same depth and two to three times wider than the root ball. Remove the plant carefully from its container and gently loosen the feeder roots from the surface. Set the lantana in the hole and fill it to the level of the root ball with native soil.

Water deeply. Spread 1 to 2 inches of mulch around the plant, being careful not to let the mulch touch the plant’s stems.

Light preferences

Texas lantana needs full sun exposure, or at least 7 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.


How to Care for Texas Lantana

A close shot of a Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides) branch with tiny yellow flowers and deep green leaves on a sunny day

Watering

Texas lantana prefers dry conditions and is drought tolerant. A deep watering once a week is usually enough. If leaves look droopy, they may need additional water.

How, When, and Why to Fertilize

Texas lantanas are light feeders. Plants in the ground may benefit from fertilizing with a balanced formula in early spring. Don’t fertilize less than two months before the first frost date in your region.

Feed lantanas grown in containers about once per month. Use a water-soluble formula at half-strength.

Pruning & Cutting Back

Texas Lantana plants showcasing florets of yellow flowers and forest green foliage

During the growing season, occasional shearing can help promote flowering and fresh growth. Just be sure to stop any pruning in the fall. However, you can cut the plants back to the ground in late winter.

Propagation

Propagate by root division in winter when plants lie dormant. Dig up the root ball and divide it into smaller sections. You can also remove clumps from the root ball while it’s still in the ground.

During the growing season, propagate by taking cuttings. Cut sections of non-flowering, greenwood shoots from 3 to 5 inches long. Root the cuttings in a well-draining medium.

You can collect seeds from the lantana’s berries. Leave the berries on the plants until they turn very dark. You can smash the berries and air dry with the pulp still attached or clean them off before air drying and storing.

Overwintering

A cluster of Texas lantana plants at the end of the growing season

If you live in a cooler climate zone where temperatures drop below 28 degrees F, protect lantana with a thick layer of mulch. You may also plant near a south wall.

Deadheading

Though you don’t need to deadhead Texas lantana, the practice can promote more flowers. If a flower isn’t removed when spent, it grows into a berry. To deadhead, simply snip spent flowers at their base, leaving any unopened buds in place.


Common Texas Lantana Problems & How to Treat Them

A butterfly sits atop a blooming Texas lantana plant

Texas lantana is known for its low maintenance needs. They’re salt-tolerant and deer-resistant. They love hot, dry weather and are drought-tolerant. The plants let you know when they need water by drooping or wilting.

It’s also pest-resistant. However, these plants don’t tolerate insecticide soaps. Don’t ever spray lantana with an insecticide soap, as it can kill the plant.


Essential tools to have around

A collection of garden tools

The Texas lantana’s foliage can be an irritant and cause a rash. If you have sensitive skin, use gloves when handling the plants.

Texas Lantana FAQs:

Are Texas Lantana Hardy? 

Texas lantana are tough, low-maintenance perennials that thrive in hot, sunny, and dry conditions. They grow best in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11.

How big do Texas Lantana get? 

L. urticoides can grow between 3 and 6 feet tall and wide.

What do you do with Texas Lantana over winter? 

Texas lantana are perennials, so they’ll lose their foliage when they go dormant in winter but return in spring. Cut them back to the ground in late winter to encourage fresh new growth.

Is Texas Lantana invasive? 

Texas lantana is not invasive in its native regions, which include parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. However, L. urticoides has been cross-bred with its relatives, L. camara and L. montevidensis; some hybrids are considered invasive in parts of Florida, Hawaii, Texas, Israel, and Australia.

Is Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides) a perennial? 

Texas lantana is a perennial. It lies dormant in winter and comes back with new growth in the spring.

Will Texas Lantana grow in shade? 

While Texas lantana can survive in the shade, it prefers full sun exposure. It grows best and produces the most flowers when it receives at least 7 to 8 hours of sun per day.

Is Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides) poisonous to humans? 

L. urticoides berries are toxic to humans, pets, and livestock. The foliage can be a skin irritant.

Wrap Up

Texas lantana (L. urticoides) is a perfect choice for the garden’s hot, sunny spots. They thrive in poor soil, tolerate drought, and produce their gorgeous, multi-colored flowers best when temperatures soar. They’re virtually pest-free, and deer don’t touch them, thanks to their rough, pungently aromatic foliage and toxic berries.


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