Illustration by Jamie Runnells

Illustration by Jamie Runnells

Lantana, sometimes referred to as shrub verbenas, is a native species found in tropical regions of the Americas but also grows well as a perennial in Mississippi.

The joy of growing lantanas is they bloom well into the fall and usually last until winter’s first frost. I grow several patches of this shrubby plant around my home and am always amazed at their display of colors. My lantanas are covered each fall in bright red, yellow, orange, blue, purple and white blooms.

Butterflies can’t seem to resist the sweet nectar, especially at the end of summer when few options are available because Mississippi’s hot and dry weather has devastated most plants.

A lantana’s growth form is shrubby and either low statured from approximately one foot off the ground or it can grow in a massive thicket reaching heights up to 6 feet. This is dependent on the type of lantana. Many are hybrid species and offer a range of growth and color forms. The leaves of the lantana are poisonous to herbivores, meaning you have to keep them away from livestock and pets that would chew on them. However, deer won’t eat them, a luxury to Southern gardeners.

Lantanas are an easy sell. The beautiful display of color alone is enough to convince me to transplant them in new areas around my home each year. They are drought tolerant, love heat and full sun conditions and do not require added watering, sprays or fertilizer. In fact, I never have to water these plants around my home, and they thrive every year.

Enjoy your fall bloomers!