The lantanas have deciduous leaves, of oval or lanceolate shape, of light green or dark green colour, covered by thin veins in relief, which are very rough to the touch, and emit, if broken, a strong aroma, not appreciated by all.
The many varieties present in the nursery are of different sizes, ranging from small creeping perennials, which do not exceed 26-30 cm in height, up to real shrubs very ramified, which can exceed one meter in height.
The main peculiarity of the lanthanum is represented by the flowers, which bloom continuously from late spring to autumn; similarly to what happens for the verbenas, also the lanthanum produce small trumpet-shaped flowers, which bloom in hemispherical corymbs; the flowers begin to bloom from the lower part of the corymb, to bloom in succession up to the top.
The particularity of lantanas lies in the fact that for many varieties flowers tend to change colour during the days of flowering, so we will often find ourselves with an inflorescence that has, for example, red flowers on the outside, orange in the middle and yellow in the middle.
Much of the success of lantanas is due to this variety in the colors of each plant, there are varieties of lanthanum pink and orange flowers, or white and lilac, but also lantanas with a completely yellow or white flower, with a colour that remains unchanged over time. The flowers are followed by small black berries, edible when ripe.
Most common species
Lantana montevidensis, or Lantana selloviana
This lanthanum is native to South America, and is characterized by white or lilac flowers, produces prostrate stems, which give rise to a herbaceous perennial plant very pleasant. Also these lantanas can’t stand the frost especially if intense and persistent, and therefore, if we want to cultivate them in northern Italy, keeping them from year to year, it is necessary in autumn to cover them, or place them in a place protected from frost.
The smaller dimensions allow the cultivation of the Lantana Montevidensis also in small pots, so that it is easier to move them to a protected place during the winter months; the lilac colour of the flowers, very delicate, makes them more appreciated by those who do not love the flowers of a very intense colour.
In the nursery we often find lantanas of hybrid varieties, which originate from these two species; this type of hybridization has allowed to create lantanas with pinkish flowers, iridescent to orange or yellow, which is impossible in the lantana camara.
- The Lanthanum is a beautiful evergreen shrub, medium in size, and delicate in appearance; the stems are thin and well branched, and give rise to a harmonious and vigorous plant, which can reach the top of the tree.
- I wanted to know if there is a chance that Lanthanum bloom again after a very cold winter in open ground and already pruned …
- In this section we talk about shrubs, a collection of detailed information about the different species grown in our gardens, tips for the right choice according to the needs of your ally…
The lantana camara is a semi-arbustive species native to Central America; it produces inflorescences in the shades of yellow, red and orange. This lanthanum tends, with the passing of the years, to produce a compact and dense shrub, very ramified. It is a species which withstands the cold quite well In the north, it is a delicate plant, which must be moved in a cold greenhouse during the winter months, or risks freezing completely.
Sometimes, when completely ruined by the cold, they tend to flower again when spring arrives; often, however, a plant so severely damaged tends not to produce flowers even for a few years. Therefore, in nursery, the lanterns are proposed mostly as annual plants, or it is recommended to cover them with agritourism during the cold season.
Cultivating the Lantana
These perennials, or small shrubs, are not difficult to cultivate during the growing season; they prefer very bright positions even if sunny, and if placed in a dark or poorly sunny place tend to bloom in a contained way.
They can bear short periods of drought, but usually a long period without water translates into few flowers and withered leaves; therefore, they must be placed under the wind, which could dry up too much the soil, and water regularly, every time the substratum tends to dry up. Let’s avoid, however, also leaving them soaked of water, which favours the development of radical rottenness, mould and fungi, which can ruin a lantana even in a short time.
April to September, every 12-15 days we mix with the water from the watering of the fertilizer for flowering plants which will stimulate abundant flowering and lush vegetation. When autumn arrives, we prune the shrubs, shortening each branch by about one third, so as to encourage the development of a denser and more compact plant. If the climate allows it, and it always keeps quite mild and humid, many varieties of lanthanum keep the foliage even during the winter.
Pests and diseases
The lanterns in the garden are plants that are kept in the sun for most of the day, if the climate becomes hot and the ventilation is poor, there is often the development of some pests typical of the summer period, such as mites or cochineals These insects must be quickly eradicated to prevent them from becoming many and causing serious damage to plants.
Insecticides should be used only at a time of the year when the plant is not in bloom It is therefore useful to treat our lantanas invaded by insects as early as the beginning of spring, when their flowers are still in bud; this prevents us from disturbing useful insects, such as bees, which like to visit the lantanas.
Other problems of the lanterns are usually connected to the watering or to the climate; in general, the hybrid varieties we find in the garden, live well in the same zone where we cultivate the geraniums, with which they share many cultural needs. */Therefore, we remind you not to leave them for long time exposed to the drought, or to the intense frost.
Sowing the lanthanum
A single shrub of lanthanum can produce hundreds of seeds in a single vegetative season; it is a pity that such seeds tend to germinate with great difficulty it is therefore necessary to treat them before they can be sown. If you have a lantana in the garden, you can safely declare that it is a fortune, as otherwise you would find in a short time all the garden invaded by lantanas.
We also remember that most of the lanterns in the nursery are hybrids, and therefore we can hardly get a plant identical to the mother plant, more likely to get from seed a plant with flowers of different colors.
Then, let’s get a handful of small fruits, and let’s have them dry in the sun, so that it is possible to separate the small hard seed from the pulp, in order to avoid that, once buried, the pulp decomposes, creating a good environment for the development of moulds. The cleaned seeds are to be dusted with a fungicide, and then placed in an airtight refrigerator bag, containing a little damp sand.
This bag should be placed in the refrigerator for about 4-6 weeks, so as to simulate the winter season. Once removed from the refrigerator, the seeds are placed on the surface of a small pot, filled with sand and peat mixed and moistened. The jar should be kept in a cool place, but with temperatures over 12-15°C, fairly bright, and humid, watering regularly.
Propagate lanterns by cutting
Lanthanum cuttings prepare in summer, taking the apexes of the already woody branches, choosing preferably the branches which have not bloomed. The cuttings should be about 8-10 cm long, and should be cut just above a leaf; the lower part should be cut into a wedge, and dipped in the rooting hormone; then let’s remove the leaves in the lower part and plant the cuttings in a good universal mould, humid and fresh.
The cuttings thus produced tend to germinate quite quickly, but they are to be cultivated in pots until the following spring, in order to keep them in a cool and luminous place, and to be able to water them every time the soil tends to dry up.
Preparing cuttings is a very pleasant operation, which allows us to obtain numerous plants, starting from a single plant; this type of propagation is ideal with plants such as lantanas, which are almost certainly hybrids: only the cuttings allow us to produce new plants completely identical to the mother plant.
There are many species of lantana, widespread throughout the world; the lantana camara is one of the few species cultivated for ornamental purposes, thanks to the fact that it has flowers of color that vary with the passing of the days.
The diffusion of the camaran lantanas in the gardens of the areas where there are lantanas in the wild has caused great problems to the local flora; in fact, these plants tend to sow themselves easily in some areas of the world, where they have become a highly invasive species, so much so as to make almost rare species the autochthonous lantanas.
This event is taking place today in Hawaii, in some areas of Australia and North America; even in Italy the Camara lantana has become naturalized, in some areas of the Sicilian hinterland, but without arousing particular concern.
In the areas where it has become invasive, many birds feed on the small fruits of lanthanum, whose seeds are then digested, and, once fallen to the ground with the excrements of the birds, tend to germinate with great ease.
In addition to this, the great propensity of the lantana for hybridization, has led the lantana camare to self-hybridize with the native lantana, creating several hybrids: it is therefore now difficult to understand if a plant belongs to an original native species, or to a new hybrid with lantana camara.
A particular name
The name Lantana was given to this plant by Linnaeus, in fact it is a name “inherited” because, the resemblance of the flowers of this shrub to those of the lantana viburnum earned her the botanical name.
The Lantana viburnum, however, is a completely different plant from the Lantana, apart from the inflorescence, which also in this case consists of many small flowers, which in the viburnum are however white and bloom almost simultaneously; another strong resemblance is to be noted between the leaves of the two plants, which are almost equal, as are the corymbs when the flowers are followed by the fruits, in both cases we are faced with a sort of small ball, consisting of tiny berries, almost black in color.
The lanthanum viburnum, however, is a shrub native to central Europe, with a white flower and dark green foliage, widespread in Italy even in the wild.
Berries in the garden
There are many plants in the garden that produce edible berries, although the large availability of food has caused a total lack of interest in this type of food, which grows in the garden, rather than in the garden or orchard.
In the past, in the Italian countryside, many of the shrubs present in the forest or cultivated as hedges were plundered of their small fruits, which were consumed raw, or used to prepare liqueurs, compotes, or jams.
Still present in some areas, and often still utilized as fruits, the mulberries; the big mulberry blackberries which ripen in spring are utilized mainly in Sicily, where they are utilized for preparing granitas and tasty ice-creams, with the typical violet colour; the mulberry blackberries, raw, have a very delicate taste, which is exalted by the cooking or by the mixing with white sugar.
Little utilized, often present only in herbalist shops, the elder jam and the juice of the berries; the elder, large shrub present in the Italian woods, produces big umbrella-like inflorescences, which in summer fill up with small black berries; if consumed in great quantity, they have a laxative effect, and are still utilized for preparing purifying jams, utilized also in the low-calorie diets.
Other fruits present in the forest are the sorbs, or the small berries of the sorb; the sorb (Sorbus domestica) is a shrub of European origin, belonging to the family of roses, like most of the most common fruit plants; the flowering is followed by small fruits similar to apples, or better to medlars, which like European medlars must be rested in the straw after being picked to be eaten.
Much utilized in herbal medicine, but also for preparing jams, the fruit of the canine roses, with the typical acidulous taste, rich in vitamin C, present mainly dried for preparing infusions.