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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.

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

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Thursday - October 04, 2012

From: Tampa, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Lantana failing to bloom from Tampa FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I reside in central Florida. I have planted several lantana the orange,red,yellow type. I don't have proper species name. They have been in the ground 3 weeks with 2" of potting soil around root base watering every 2-3 days. 3 hrs of side sun am, 3-4 hrs of side sun in pm mid day mostly shady. What to do - no flowers. Desire not to relocate them.

ANSWER:

Before we answer your question, we are a little puzzled about your remark about 2" of potting soil around roots. Did you mean you have them in a pot with 2" of potting soil, or that you included the potting soil in the hole dug for them? We are sure you mean the soil is in the hole in the ground, because you would know that 2" in a pot would not be enough for a shrub. There is nothing wrong with putting the potting soil in the hole, but it probably won't do much good, either. Compost mixed in with the native soil and put back in the hole as the shrub was being planted would have probably been better, but it doesn't make much difference either way.

We are thinking that what you probably have is one of the many different selections of Lantana camara, which is non-native to North America. From the website Botanical, here is a picture of that plant, sounds like what you have. We know it is widely sold and grown in Florida, and is considered invasive. From the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Control, here is more information.

There is also a lantana native to Texas and Florida that looks similar - Lantana urticoides (Texas lantana), see pictures from our Native Plant Images below. Follow that plant link to our webpage on the plant, where you will learn that it requires full sun, has low water requirements, needs good drainage and can do well in poor soils. We think the telling information there is that it needs full sun, which we consider to be 6 or more hours of direct sun a day. Most flowering plants require quite a bit of sun to bloom well.

However, if the plant has only been in the ground 3 weeks, we predict it will be at least a year before it begins to bloom. We are using the information on the native plant since we have no such information on non-natives. The native lantana blooms from April to October, and all woody plants are susceptible to transplant shock, which means it needs to settle in before it even thinks about flowering. It will  try, because all plants need to propagate themselves. Whether your plant is native or non-native, patience and perhaps access to more sun are the key.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas lantana
Lantana urticoides

Texas lantana
Lantana urticoides

Texas lantana
Lantana urticoides

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