Lantanas, aka shrub verdanas, are popular flowering plants belonging to the Verbanacaea family.
The genus includes around 150 species, and many variants and cultivars. Their native tropical ranges are in the Americas and Africa.
The one downside to these plants, especially for those new to the genus, is the contradictory information found all over the web.
Often these contradictions lead to an individual species. Or more commonly, sellers may market Lantana plants as either annuals or perennials.
But which is it?
Is Lantana a Perennial?
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is that your lantana will either be perennial or annual based upon where and how you grow it.
What Are Annuals and Perennials, Anyway?
There are three lifespan categories for plants.
- Annuals need replanting every year, as they only live for a single growing season.
- Biennials have a 2-year lifespan. Yet many biennial crops and herbs (carrots, kale, parsley, etc.) get harvested well before this point.
- Perennials are anything that lives for longer than two years, be it 3 years or 300.
In the case of lantanas, they’re perennial in their native habitat. But, heavy frost may kill them, making them an annual in other regions.
So depending on where you live, you can choose whether to grow your lantana as an annual or perennial.
How to Grow Lantanas as Perennials
Lantanas are tropical plants and may be grown outdoors as a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
Some variants and cultivars are a little cold-hardy. They can be grown as a tender perennial. This means they need insulating protection methods.
When grown as a perennial, these shrubs can grow between 2′ – 6′ feet tall and 3′ – 10′ feet wide, depending on the species.
To ensure the soil doesn’t compact over time, plant them in loose, well-drained soil. Augment it with coarse sand or similar aggregate.
For the best blooms, plant where there is full sun to light shade or dappled sunlight. The sun’s intensity in midsummer will tell you if it needs noon protection.
Give your lantana a balanced flower fertilizer as instructed on the package. Stop fertilization 2 months before the first frost is due. Otherwise new and tender growth will be vulnerable.
In zones 1 to 8, you can plant them in containers, bringing them inside before the first frost hits.
Find a nice, sunny window to keep them by during the winter when grown in this manner.
Ensure the plant is inaccessible to children and pets, as the entire Lantana plant is toxic. The berries can be fatal if ingested.
Normal indoor conditions will generally be enough to allow the plant to overwinter safely.
How to Grow Lantanas as Annuals
Growing lantana outdoors in colder zones will kill it before the winter is over.
You can then remove the dead stems and roots, planting a new one the following year.
Care is typically the same, and your lantana will remain smaller during its shortened lifespan, only reaching up to 4′ feet tall and 3′ feet wide.
Plan your garden spacing accordingly. Or pot the plant in an outdoor container for a smaller but no less impressive display. They go nicely along patios or entryways.
Which Method is Better?
Whether you grow your lantana as an annual or perennial is a matter of personal preference or zone limitations.
In warmer zones, perennials make for a beautiful, low-maintenance display. But they might become difficult to move at full size when kept in containers.
Meanwhile, annuals are more compact, and you get to reuse the space each year for new lantana or some other plant. It is perfect for people who like to change things up occasionally.
It also means you don’t have to worry about having enough space to keep the plant inside, especially if you’re worried about its toxicity.