Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Monday - June 30, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Shrubs
Title: Failure to bloom in hybrid lantana
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Austin and have planted the newer lantana varieties which bloom with orange and pink flowers.They have been planted in full sun and get watered 2 times a week for about 15 minutes.They do not have berries either. I cannot get them to flower at all.They were planted in a very rocky landscape with a layer of new soil.Why do you think they are not flowering.?

ANSWER:

There are a couple of native lantanas that grow in Texas: Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena), which blooms in orange and yellow, and Lantana achyranthifolia (brushland shrubverbena), which blooms in pink and white. Obviously, your plant is a hybridized Lantana camara, which has no one knows how many crosses in its parentage. We could accuse some sneaky non-blooming gene that slipped in during all that hybridizing, but that seems highly unlikely. Ordinarily, lantanas will bloom reliably for months at a time, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. We found a great deal of information from a Clemson University Extension website, Lantana. You might compare this with the location of your plants, and from that, determine what is causing the non-blooming.

Newly planted lantanas will need to be kept moist for the first few weeks until the roots have spread into the surrounding soil. Poor blooming is usually caused by too much shade or excessive fertilization. Plants that set berries may decline in bloom. Trim plants back to encourage new growth and flowering

While established lantanas are drought tolerant, performance, bloom, and growth rate will be reduced if they are too dry for a long period. During their blooming period, give them a thorough watering once a week if they do not receive an inch of rain that week. Avoid overhead watering. Overly frequent overhead watering can make plant more susceptible to diseases and root rot. We're not sure if 15 minutes twice a week is sufficient; if it is a sprinkler system, your lantanas are getting overhead watering that they do not tolerate well. It would be better to stick a hose in the root area and let water dribble in slowly until water appears on the surface once or twice a week.

Prune lantana periodically during summer by lightly shearing the tip growth to encourage repeat blooming. Plants that have become too large for their allotted space may be pruned back by up to a third of their height and spread. Water and lightly fertilize newly cut back plants and they will return to bloom quickly. Prune perennial lantanas back hard in late winter to remove old growth and prevent woodiness. Cut back to about 6 to 12 inches from ground level. Avoid hard pruning in fall as this can cause reduced cold hardiness.

Lantana requires little fertilizer, and certainly avoid high nitrogen fertilizers, which promote green leaves but not blooms. A light fertilization in spring will usually be sufficient. Vigorously growing plants may be fertilized again in mid summer, provided plants are not water stressed. Excessive fertilizer may reduce flowering and make plants more susceptible to disease.

Some cultivars produce small blue-black fleshy fruit. The fruit can be poisonous, especially if eaten in quantity. Fruiting can be avoided by growing sterile cultivars. Sterile cultivars which are available include 'New Gold', 'Samantha' ('Lemon Swirl'), 'Miss Huff', 'Mozelle', 'Patriot Deen Day Smith', 'Patriot Marc Cathey', 'Weeping Lavender' and 'Weeping White'. You may have one of these cultivars, which could very well explain the lack of berries on your plant.

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Evergreen Trees for Low Maintenance Screen
April 18, 2015 - We live in Pacifica, CA and are looking to plant a row of low maintenance trees in our back yard along our fence, that grow to be a maximum of 15' high, that stay green year round. What do you recomm...
view the full question and answer

Fruit bearing trees and shrubs for wildlife in NY
May 05, 2010 - What are the best fruit bearing trees and berry bushes to grow in Oneonta New York. We are working on a project for the Oneonta Job Corps that is a green initiative. When we buy the fruit bearing tr...
view the full question and answer

Wind and erosion tolerant plants from Austin
August 05, 2013 - I recently cleared a fire break by removing cedar from around my home in West Austin. I'd like to plant the exposed NW facing slope with native shrubs and trees. Looking for selections that can wit...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for urns at entryway in Midland, Texas
November 16, 2009 - I am looking for plants for large urns at my entry .. prefer something evergreen. The urns are about 3' tall with an opening of 10-12" .. also prefer a plant that is not too bushy or whose roots wi...
view the full question and answer

Dog Friendly Privacy Hedge for Long Island
April 14, 2013 - Can you please advise me of some plants for a privacy hedge that are non-toxic to dogs and that would thrive on Long Island, NY? I am looking for a hedge to grow to about 6-8 ft.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.