Lantana bushes, also known as shrub verbenas, enjoy a reputation as hardy, drought-tolerant, tropical-flowering plants. Perennials in zones 8 to 10 and annuals in northern climates, lantana can be used in a garden to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Most gardeners find lantana’s sun-loving, colorful flower heads a welcome addition to their gardens. Since lantana tends to be a vigorous grower and can quickly overshadow smaller plants placed beside it, care must be taken to choose appropriate co-plantings when planning your landscaping.
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One of lantana’s chief advantages for southwestern gardeners lies in its drought-tolerance. Even in periods of little to no rain, the lantana will thrive and continue to bloom. Gardeners interested in xeriscaping, the practice of using drought tolerant plants in your landscape design, might want to choose other plants that need little supplemental watering. Since lantana bushes grow rapidly, they can easily reach 10 to 36 inches high and wide within a season, but according to David E. Pierson, a master gardener at the Texas Cooperative Extension, some varieties reach 5 feet high and wide. When choosing a space for your lantana, it is critical to ensure it has adequate space so that it won’t crowd out other landscaping choices. Crepe myrtles, small flowering trees, work well alongside lantana since their size means they can hold their own beside the bushy lantana plant. As long as you ensure the lantana has adequate space, you can also try a variety of other drought-tolerant perennials including lamb’s ear, sedum, purple coneflower, daylily, dusty miller, Shasta daisy, zinnia and bearded iris. Varieties of cactus such as hens and chicks or pear cactus also work well in a xeriscaped landscape alongside lantana. Ornamental grasses thrive in a xeriscaped garden, with good varieties including pampas grass as well as fountain or reed grasses.
Butterfly and Hummingbird Plants
Due to the constant blooms that cover the lantana plant throughout the summer months, it is a popular choice for butterfly gardens. Planted in the ground in areas where it is perennial, or in hanging baskets in cooler climates where it is treated as an annual, it can help interested gardeners create a thriving butterfly garden. Lantana grows best in full sun, but will tolerate some afternoon shade so it is best to choose other sun-lovers to plant alongside it. Plants that work well with lantana in this type of landscaping include butterfly bush, a shrub that can grow 6 to 12 feet high, and Rose of Sharon, a shrub that can grow 8 to 10 feet high and resembles a small flowering tree. Bee balm, columbine, hollyhock, fuchsia, verbena, butterfly weed, cosmos, sage, milkweed and black-eyed susans are among the plant types whose color and scent attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Flowering vines such as trumpet vine or trumpet honeysuckle can thrive in a butterfly garden when planted on an arbor or trellis. Since growing zones in different regions of the country determine whether a given plant is perennial or annual, check with your local nursery or cooperative extension office for information before implementing your landscaping plan.