Know Before You Grow: All Lantanas Are NOT Created Equal

Webpage of big-box store selling Lantana camara
Lantana camara, commonly known as lantana and/or shrub verbena, can (unfortunately) be found throughout the state of Florida. It is a Category 1 invasive species, according to the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. Category 1 species are defined as:

"Invasive exotics that are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives. This definition does not rely on the economic severity or geographic range of the problem, but on the documented ecological damage caused."

These plants are being marketed as "Flowers for Florida" and sold at many big-box home improvement stores. DO NOT BE FOOLED by this rather deceptive advertising. Although they do GROW in Florida, they are in no way FOR Florida.

Photo by Rich Fuller (CCO)

Lantana montevidensis (left), sometimes referred to as "trailing shrubverbena," is another non-native species. Its flowers are pink or lilac with long (8-20mm) corolla tubes.

Fear not - there ARE some native Lantana species which you can plant with confidence in your home landscape! Among these are:

Lantana canescens
Native to the Dade County area, this upright plant has white flowers borne in dense axillary spikes.
Another Dade County native. Unlike L. canescens, its growth is prostrate or decumbent
(it stays low to the ground) and has solid yellow flowers.
This species grows in the coastal regions of south and central Florida.
Its flowers are white and borne in flat-topped, sometimes involucrate heads.

I hope that you'll remember this brief rundown of Florida's native and non-native Lantana species the next time you're out shopping for plants. Happy gardening!

Article by Laurie Sheldon, edited by Valerie Anderson

Further Reading

Hammer, R.L. 2004. The Lantana Mess - A Critical Look at the Genus in Florida. The Palmetto 23:1 p. 21-24 link
Lewis, S. and Maschinski, J. 2009. Connect to Protect: Creating corridors to protect South Florida's pine rockland plants. The Palmetto 26:1 link


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