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Monday - June 30, 2008

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


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.?


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.




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