How To Grow Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) In Your Garden

Lantana montevidensis belongs to the Verbenaceae family. It is known by many common names, these include Trailing Lantana, Purple Trailing Lantana, Weeping Lantana, and Pole-Cat Geranium.

The plant is native to the South American continent. It grows best in USDA zones 8-10.

This low growing sprawling shrub loves to be in the sun, and makes a nice choice for borders and as dense ground cover. With support, it can be used as a climbing vine for walls and trellises.

Mat-forming Trailing Lantana used as Ground Cover, photograph by cultivar413; CC.

The tiny round cluster lilac flower attracts butterflies and bees. The dark green leaves are slightly hairy and have a strong scent.

Flowers bloom continuously in warmer frost-free areas. In cooler climates, flowers bloom in the spring until the fall frost. The foliage can also turn blackish-purple in colder climates.

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Lantana montevidensis

Lantana montevidensis is a fuss-free plant. It grows to 1-2 feet in height (30 to 60 cm) and about 3-5 feet in length (90 to 150 cm; climbing plants). The plants should be spaced about two feet (60 cm) apart.

Lantana montevidensis can also be grown in containers.

In the winter, container plants require a sunny, cool, indoor spot. Indoor plants will need more water than those planted in the ground.

Lantana montevidensis photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Plants do well in many different soils, and will thrive in sand, chalk, clay, and loam soil types. Not too much watering is required, and they prefer to have a well-drained soil.

The Lantana montevidensis plant can thrive in the heat, and is also salt tolerant. Thus, the plant will grow well in a coastal and beach landscapes.

Quick Growing and Care Guide

Scientific Name: Lantana montevidensis

Common Name (s): Trailing Lantana, Weeping Lantana, Pole-cat Geranium, Creeping Lantana, Trailing shrub verbena, Purple Lantana.

Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones 8 to 10; Europe and UK H1B – this makes it winter hardy to about 10°C (50°F).

Best Used For / Garden Location: Trailing over walls. Ground cover in dry areas. Climbing plant using a trellis. Ornamental plant. Coastal and Desert Landscapes. Slopes.

Plant Details

Life Cycle / Plant Type: Shrub. Evergreen. Mat-forming. Often grown as a purchased annual in colder areas.

Plant Height: 12 to 18 inches (45 to 90 cm).

Plant Spread: 3 to 5 feet (90 cm to 1.5 m).

Blooms: Summer through to the first frost in temperate regions. Year round in tropical areas.

Flower Details: Purple and lavender, turning white-yellow towards the centre – the centres turn purple as the plant ages. Small. Domed clusters.

Leaf Foliage: Dark green. Hairy. Oval. Opposite. Fragrant. Small teeth. Red or purple tinged. Stems are long and hairy.

Fruit: Paired nutlet. Berry-like. Purple.

Trailing Lantana flowers photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Growing Conditions and Location

Best Light Conditions: Areas with Full sunlight. Can tolerate partial shade.

Suitable Soil Types: Well drained. Can grow in average soils. Does best in a sandy soil.

Soil Moisture: Medium moisture in a container, but also enjoys dry soils if grown outdoors.

Sowing, planting, and Propagation: Cuttings in late summer, cultivate indoors, put out in the spring after the last chance of frost. Space at about 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 inches) apart.

Typically grown from purchased standards (single woody stem). Fasten to a stake. Supply fertilizer and mulch. Pinch shoots selectively (not too many – this can prevent blooming) to help create an attractive shape.

Care: Wear gloves when working with the plant as the foliage is a skin irritant. Prune in the spring, after any chance of frost damaging new growth. Simply remove any decayed tissue, and thin out if required – remove up to a quarter of the plant. Supply a light fertilizer, and a mulch following pruning. Lightly clipping tips may help to encourage prolonged blooming.

Growing in pots and containers: Can be grown in containers in cooler areas. Use a loam potting medium. Requires little maintenance but soil must be kept moist.

Bring indoors before temperatures drop below about 13°C (55°F). Locate indoors in a cool (not cold) location that receives plenty of light. A windowsill is ideal.

Further Information

Miscellaneous: Drought tolerant plant that takes from two to five years to reach its full potential. Helps attract butterflies to the garden. Lantana plants are generally fairly salt tolerant. They are also pretty resistant to deer and rabbits.

Considered as a noxious weed in some parts of Australia and the USA (especially Hawaii). Classified as invasive in some southern US states.

Do not touch or ingest as Lantana has a medium toxicity, that may cause dermatitis, vomiting, upset stomaches, and breathing difficulties. Thus, they are not ideal plants to grow if you have pets or children, though their natural fragrance and taste should likely be offputting.

Can be used to help prevent erosion on slopes.

Cultivars: A couple of cultivars are available. 'Alba' has white flowers, while 'Lavender Swirl' produces showy clusters of both lavandar and white flowers.

Lantana montevidensis 'Alba' picture by Dinesh Valke; CC.

Family: Verbenaceae (Vervain / Verbena plant family).

Native: South America.

References and Further Reading: University of Arizona Arboretum; UTexas Identification Guide; University of Nevada, use of Lantana as a desert landscape plant.

Common Questions

Can I grow Trailing Lantana in shady areas?

Not really, they are a sun loving plant. That said they will tolerate growing in partially shaded areas, but don't expect the blooms to be as splendid as when grown in a sunny spot.

Is this a good plant for a wild-life garden?

Yes, Trailing lantana is a great plant to grow if you want to attract birds, bees, and butterflies to the garden. Some of the many butterfly species known to be attracted to Lantana plants include Monarchs, Swallowtail, Buckeye, Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, Purples, and Whites.

Purple flowered Lantana montevidensis image by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Do Trailing lantana plants spread Invasively?

It can do in frost free areas, but is seldom much of an issue in colder areas.

Does lantana grow well in hanging baskets and containers?

Yes, they will soon spread to fill up a container, and should make an attractive sight when they begin to trail over the edges. Be sure to keep them well-watered as pot grown Lantana montevidensis plants do not tolerate dry soils as much as those grown out in the garden.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Lantana montevidensis. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Verbena bonariensis, Wild Lantana, and Lantana plants.

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