En Español

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
Not Yet Rated

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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Pests Questions

Controlling scale insects on hollies
July 10, 2005 - I have a number of holly shrubs at the side of my house. Recently I noticed that they have tiny white spots on them. I looked at several native Texas gardening books, but can't find what I need to t...
view the full question and answer

Galls on live oak tree in Austin
December 12, 2013 - I live in Austin, and have a 13 year old live oak in my yard. It has developed little spheres, kind of like green peas, on the underside of the leaves. What is it? Is it harmful? Is there somethin...
view the full question and answer

Spots on persimmon tree leaves from Dripping Springs TX
July 10, 2013 - We are in rural Hays County Texas off Hamilton Pool Rd Texas. Large persimmon trees are turning yellow, blackish spots on underside of leaves. What do we do?
view the full question and answer

Orange eggs on milkweed plants
October 18, 2012 - Hello I have milk weed in my flower garden. Every year I find small orange 'eggs' on the leaves and stems of the plant. I don't think these are the monarch eggs, but not sure if they are other...
view the full question and answer

Leaves wrinkling on Tecoma stans from San Antonio TX
August 16, 2013 - My two year old esperanza (planted in the ground) froze back last winter, came back from the roots & has been doing well all summer. Recently one branch has leaves that are nice & green but very wrin...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center