En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - August 06, 2008

From: Bandera, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Shrubs
Title: Failure to thrive of Lantanas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Here at work we have 4 beautiful yellow Santanas(should I say had), the leaves have started to turn brown and no longer blooming. Appears to have a fungus or disease. Please help!

ANSWER:

Okay, well, we really thought the Santanas were more interesting. But we'll have a go at identifying what's wrong with your Lantana. Mr. Smarty Plants will tackle any question, whether it's the one you asked or not. Nearly any question. As we told you in our last answer (on the wrong plant) the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends the use of plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown. The native lantana we sell at the semi-annual Plant Sales at the Wildflower Center is Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena). These are red, yellow and orange, sometimes referred to as "calico plant". Most of the plants sold in commercial nurseries are hybrids and non-natives to North America. Some of them can become quite invasive and are regarded as such in places like Florida. However, invasiveness obviously is not your problem, so let's see if we can figure out what is happening to your plants.

Your yellow lantana is probably Lantana camara, cultivar "New Gold." One of the problems with researching the lantana is that most sites are for invasive plants. Even this site, from Arizona Wild Flowers, Gold Lantana, refers to it as one of the 100 most invasive plants in the world. However, one of the pests that are said to infest lantana is the whitefly. It tends to be more of a problem in enclosed areas, being grown as a house plant, or greenhouses. If you bought the lantanas recently, it's barely possible that is the problem, as the infestation may have come with the plant in immature form. The referenced website has some suggestions for identifying and eliminating them. There is always the possibility of aphids attacking your plants; they tend to be more prevalent when a plant is stressed by drought, which goodness know we have had this summer in Texas. And, finally, spider mites may be present. Each of these websites gives some chemical and biological controls suggested for the specific insect. Please read them all the way through and compare with any bugs you can find on your plant. We will also give you some websites with pictures of each beastie. Don't use any controls until you know exactly what you are dealing with. For instance, insecticides will not harm spider mites, but will kill predators of the spider mites, thus increasing the number of spider mites that are actually feeding on the plant.

Pictures of spider mites

Pictures of aphids

Pictures of whiteflies

Now, if you examine all of these and you still don't think you've found the cause, we recommend you just try a bandaid, and see if that's what it takes. Trim off the "diseased" or dead branches, but leave as many green leaves for nutrition as possible. If this means taking a lot of the crown off, go ahead; if the lantana recovers, it will grow back more vigorously than before. Then, give it a little more tender loving care. Even though it is considered drought resistant, if the plants were purchased and planted fairly recently, they may not have developed a very good root system before they were put out for sale. Large commercial nurseries will often "force" blooming to increase sales appeal, and the roots may not yet be able to take care of the plant's needs, once it gets into the ground. Don't fertilize it, over-fertilizing is one of the things that attracts aphids. Put some shredded hardwood bark over the roots for cooling and retaining moisture, and give the plants some regular deep drinks of water. As tough and well-adapted as this plant normally is, we feel it will rise and bloom again, maybe not this summer, but surely next spring.

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native Ginkgo biloba in New York
June 19, 2009 - A female Ginkgo tree dropped its seeds. Now, I have seedlings all over the yard. I don't want more female Ginkgo trees. They create putrid Ginkgo seeds. However, I would like more male Ginkgo trees. ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native mimosa failing to bloom in Leitchfield KY
October 29, 2011 - I have a medium size mimosa tree here in KY that usually blooms beautifully; it did not bloom at all this year. It leafed out well, needs a few dead limbs pruned, but seems otherwise healthy. Please t...
view the full question and answer

Non-native banana trees
June 06, 2008 - I recently planted two types of Banana trees, a Darjeeling and a Giant Nepal. I know that both are hardy to my zone 7 but that the Nepal needed heavy mulching. My first question is how long will it ta...
view the full question and answer

Non-native begonias and Texas summer
March 06, 2009 - I live in Austin, TX. I have two flower beds that each get plenty of sun during the day (8 to 10 hours in summer time). I love Begonias and was considering planting Begonias in my flowerbeds. Will ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a tree in Florida with bell-shaped red flowers
November 23, 2012 - A friend in Florida has asked about identification of a tree with a flower none of us have ever seen. It starts with a green pod, then flowers into, what looks to me like a Chinese lantern, or bell. I...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center