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Thursday - July 22, 2010

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Compost and Mulch, Pests, Shrubs
Title: Failure to bloom of lantanas in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Mr. Smarty Plants, We have lantanas in our front yard. This summer the leaves have turned white and they die to a brown color all the while the leaves are "crispy". At the beginning of the season they had beautiful flowers, now there is not a bloom to be found after dead-heading the plants What is going on?


It is always tough to answer questions about lantanas; there are four that are native to Texas: Lantana achyranthifolia (brushland shrubverbena), Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena), Lantana velutina (velvet shrubverbena) and Lantana canescens (hammock shrubverbena). The showiest of these is Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena) and the one most likely for you to purchase if you could find it. However, the lantana is basically a sub-tropical, and it is more likely the tropical non-native Lantana camara (from Floridata) or one of its many, many hybrids. This is a tropical, and has been hybridized for many colors, sizes and bloom times. Because there are so many different selections or cultivars of this species, often several combined into one plant, that we have no way of knowing special characteristics that might contribute to the problems you are having. 

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown, which takes Lantana camara out of the range of our expertise. However, we can say that there must be some sort of disease, insect or cultural problem to cause the plant to stop blooming. Ordinarily, after the last Winter we had, we would guess that a cold snap had caused the leaf problem, but since it began the season  blooming, we must look a little further.

We found one website (Emily Compost) that said:

"Lantanas are generally not bothered by most insects or diseases, but be on the lookout for whitefly and spider mite.

If you think you have mites and other insects rinse off with a solution of soapy water. Something like Dawn or Ivory from the kitchen sink. 2 tbs in a gallon of water. In the early morning, spray and then rinse with regular water from the hose. Do not do in the middle of the day. Water droplets will magnify and burn the leaves."

Here is our description of the most frequent pests to bother lantanas:


Aphids: these will definitely cause leaf curl, and the honeydew they excrete begins as a whitish area, although it can develop a black fungus that will change the color and is really ugly. University of California Integrated Pest Management Aphids

Spider mites: the spider mite is a member of the Arachnid (spider) family and has web-spinning abilities. Again, from the UC IPM program Spider Mites

Mealy bugs: these individual bugs can also have a cottony appearance, and you can find some easy control methods in this eHow site How to Control Mealybugs

That leaves us only Growing Conditions for possible reasons for your problem. Again, all we have in our Native Plant Database that we can use as an example is Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena).


"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Poor, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Lantana provides summer color. In winter, some gardeners prune back lantana to keep the plants from getting too large. The stems become thorny especially with age, so caution is necessary when cutting them back. The blue-black fruit clusters are poisonous. Used as a low to medium, flowering ground cover for dry, exposed, poor sites. Crinkly leaves give off a sharp aroma when touched and they can cause a skin rash. Mature plants tend to form large mounds that may be separated into smaller plants in the winter."

Since there are so many things we do not know about your plant, the best we can suggest is that you first determine if the plant is alive, which apparently it is as you are getting new leaves. Don't fertilize and don't over-water. If you feel any of the insects we mentioned are the cause, treat accordingly. In the Fall, trim the plant back nearly to the ground and see what happens when Spring comes. 

Pictures of Lantana camara from Google

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Lantana achyranthifolia

Lantana urticoides

Lantana velutina

Lantana canescens












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