Common name: Spanish Flag, West Indian Lantana, Lava, Feston Rose plant, Red Sage, Yellow Sage, Wild Sage, Lantana, Lantana Weed
Synonymous: Lantana aculeata
Distribution and habitat: Lantana camara is a species of flowering plant in the verbena family, that is native to the American tropics. It has been introduced into other parts of the world as an ornamental plant and the Lantana camara ended to be considered an invasive species in many tropical and sub-tropical areas. It can be seen in the wild and along footpaths, deserted fields, and farms.
Description: In the wild this flowering shrub grows about 1.2m (4 feet) tall, but when potted they can be kept to about 25-40cm (10-16 inch) high by pruning. Lantana camara are generally sold in late winter or early spring when in bud and they are often thought of as temporary plants, to be discarded after flowering. This is a false impression, however. Lantana camara can be kept for years if they are proper pruned.
The elliptic medium green leaves are up to 8cm (3 inch) long and 4cm (1.5 inch) wide, rough-surfaced and coarse-textured. Leaves have slightly toothed edges, have 1cm (0.4 inch) long stalks and appear in opposite pairs or whorls of three. The flowering season lasts from late spring to middle autumn. Round 5cm (2 inch) wide flower heads are produced from the leaf axils on 5cm (2 inch) stalks. Each head consists of densely packed, tubular flowers. Individual flowers open successively, in rows starting from the outside of the circle. Whatever their colour, it changes (usually darkening) as they age. Thus a single flower head can contain blooms of two or three related colours – for instance, yellow, orange and reddish. There are a number of named forms with primarily white, yellow, orange, pink or red flowers.
Houseplant care: Lantana camara needs low maintenance.
Light: Grow Lantana camara in bright light with at least three hours a day of direct sunlight, all year long. If they have too little sunlight, these plants will not be able to flower.
Temperature: Normal room temperatures are usually suitable from early spring to the end of the flowering period. But move the plants to a cooler position for a short winter rest at about 10°C (50°F), if possible.
While Lantana camara are in normal room temperatures, it is a good idea to increase the humidity by standing the pot on tray with moist pebbles.
Water: During the active growth period water the plants plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never allow the pots to stand in water. During the rest period water only enough to keep the potting mixture from completely drying out.
Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the active growth period.
Potting and repotting: Use soil-based potting mixture. Move the small plants into pots one size larger whenever roots appear through drainage holes and on the surface of the mixture. Repotting may be necessary two or three times a year, but do not use needlessly large pots. Lantana camara flower best in pots that seem slightly too small for them. A 15-20cm (6-8 inch) size is the largest likely to be required for a small, bushy plant. When the maximum convenient pot size has been reached , symply top-dress the plants with fresh potting mixture every spring.
Propagation: Propagate Lantana camara in mid-summer from stem cuttings. Take 8cm (3 inch) cuttings of non-flowering shoots immediately below a leaf, strip off lower leaves that might come in contact with the rooting medium and dip the cut ends in a hormone rooting powder. Plant the cuttings in a moistened equal-parts mixture of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite – either several together in a shallow seed tray or singly in 8cm (3 inch) pot. Enclose each container of cuttings in a plastic bag and stand it in bright filtered light. After rooting occurs (probably two to three weeks), uncover the new plants, water them sparingly and apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks.When the plants have made 5-8 cm (2-3 inch) of new growth, move them into direct sunlight. At this stage pinch out all the growing points to encourage bushy growth.
Early in the following spring move cuttings rooted in 8cm (3 inch) pots into bigger pots of soil-based mixture and treat them as mature Lantana camara. Pot up the cuttings rooted in trays separately in 8 cm pots of soil-based mixture in early autumn and treat them as mature Lantana camara.
Lantana camara is quite easy to propagate from seed sown early in spring, but the seedling that will result will be of mixed colouring and quality.
Young Lantana camara rooted from cuttings are likely to flower more profusely than older plants. The young ones can be kept down to a suitable size for indoors use by having all their growing points nipped out when small. As Lantana camara plants age, they will generally retain their shape and much of their ability to flower freely if cut back to within about 10-15cm (4-6 inch) of the base in late winter or spring.
Culture: Lantana camara likes a moist, well-drained soil, but will tolerate a variety of site conditions. Lantana camara is very drought tolerant, but does not perform well in a wet site. Plant the Lantana camara in full sun. It will benefit by occasional fertilisation.
Lantana camara are particularly susceptible to attack by whiteflies which tend to conglomerate on the leaves.
Treatment: Use a suitable insecticide to combat these pests.
Monitor the plants for black or brown patches or growths. These are sooty mold or powdery mildew growth, which are usually caused by over-watering or planting in shade.
Treatment: Trim out any infected leaves or stems and dispose of them to prevent the fungus from spreading.
Toxicity: Lantana camara may be poisonous to pets
Uses: Lantana camara has become popular in gardens for its hardy nature. It is not affected by pests or disease, has low water requirements and is tolerant of extreme heat. Lantana cultivars favored as ornamentals tend to have small herbaceous stems.
Lantana camara are tender perennials in hardiness zone 7 and may come back depending on the winter’s precipitation and temperatures. Plants can be used in mass landscape plantings, used in a mixed perennial border, as edging, in containers or hanging baskets and anywhere else there is a need for color all summer. When used as a shrub, plant as a hedge or foundation planting. Can also be used along banks. For a unique tropical effect, interplant Lantana camara plants with ‘Chartreuse’ sweet potato vine; the hot colors of the blooms blend well with bright lime green foliage of the vine.
It is a favorite species of butterflies and used in butterfly gardens.
Lantana camara can be used as a specimen. This houseplant brilliantly tolerates highly saline conditions, lack of water, scorching heat and billowing winds. The leaves of this houseplant bear a very strong and pleasant aroma.
At last but not least, Lantana camara is a houseplant that will purifies the air in house.
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Height: 1.2m (4 feet)
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifuly
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 13°C (45-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high
Hardiness zone: 8-11