Adding Lantana to Your Coastal Bend Garden to Attract Butterflies and Birds

Lantana is an evergreen shrub native to the tropical regions of Africa and South America. But don’t let the foreign origins fool you; lantana plants love the weather of the Coastal Bend! They are durable, drought-tolerant and easy to grow. They thrive in the worst heat of summer when few South Texas plants can muster flowers, and these tough shrubs are simply gorgeous in full bloom. 

A mature lantana planted in full sun and grown in healthy soil offers hundreds of tiny flowers. This amazing show of blooms in a wide variety of colors make lantana a gorgeous backdrop as a hedge. Older lantana plants that have not been killed in a freeze can grow very tall, with dense greenery, brilliant flowers and large, woody stems.

They also make beautiful potted plants; just make sure to bring them inside during the few freezing nights in winter and you will enjoy a lush plant throughout the year. Trailing lantanas are great in hanging baskets as stunning accent plants with long stems of blooms.

Lantanas are an essential plant in any butterfly garden. Birds, especially hummingbirds, love the flowers, so in late summer, your beautiful lantanas will provide a glorious show as birds and butterflies flutter about the blooms. 

Growing Up

Spacing, 12” to 18”. Height, 24” to 36”. Easy to grow. Plant from transplant in March. Full sun; shaded plants grow slowly with fewer blooms. Any well-drained soil. Add several inches compost, plus two cups pastured poultry manure and two cups native wood ash. Add two cups pastured poultry manure at first sign of blooms. Compost with native leaf mulch. Water as needed once established. 

Profiling

An evergreen shrub with many clusters of small flowers in red, orange, pink, purple, yellow or white. To grow lantanas as a low hedge, space in line at 15” and prune to form dense hedge. As a potted plant, grow in full sun and bring inside during freeze. For hanging baskets, “trailing lantana” makes a gorgeous accent plant. Trailing lantanas also make excellent ground cover. Grow new plants from cuttings, not seeds.

Local Rec

“Lantana is tough and beautiful just like South Texas. It’s versatile across different design styles and feeds pollinators, which is very important! We typically have 10-12 different varieties in stock, and the bees and butterflies love them all. Texas native lantana is best for birds, Purple trailing lantana spills beautifully out of containers or raised beds and Dallas Red lantana is great as an accent or for mass planting.”

– Jesse Jenkins, Owner and General Manager, Gill Garden Center + Landscape Co. @gills.corpus

Fun Facts

Lantanas are remarkably tough and resilient plants. They can take harsh winds, saltwater spray and the worst heat of summer. They can withstand mild Coastal Bend winters, but will die to the ground in a freeze. However, they will regrow quickly in the warm weather of spring. After the epic freeze last February, all of our frozen lantana plants regrew rapidly from their roots in March. Each spring, prune any dead limbs to speed regrowth.