Lantana (Camara-Hybrids): Shrub Verbena, Yellow Sage
Plants introduced into cultivation and grown for their beauty are often troublesome weeds in the tropics. Such is the case with the many species of Lantana, which in their native land may be commonly found growing on walls and in hedgerows. Because they are rather tall shrubs, they fill the same function as the blackthorn in Europe.
The approximately 160 species described to date are mostly native to tropical America as well as east Asia. The type species are practically unknown in cultivation. Instead, a hybrid produced by crossing Lantana camara with L. montevidensis and L. ur-ticaefolia is grown. Other species may also have been involved in the crossing and the whole group is named Lantana (Camara-Hybrids) and contains many cultivars.
The flower clusters develop from the margin inward and the individual florets often change colour during flowering. Thus, for example, a plant in full bloom may have dark pinkon the margin and pale yellow ones in the centre (’Arlequin’), or they may be a combination of scarlet and orange (’Professor Raoux’). The range of colour combinations is wide and so growers are sure to find a plant to their liking.
Lantanas are generally woody shrubs that can readily be kept within reasonable bounds. They are suitable for both relatively cool or warm flats, the one prerequisite for successful growth being ample light, best of all full sunshine. In summer they may be moved outdoors and used for decoration on a balcony or in a window-box where they are plunged together with the pot. They are readily propagated by cuttings that root rapidly even in water. Thus, shoots removed from a single plant during late-winterwill provide a goodly number of young specimens that will flower profusely the same year in the window-box. The should be a heavy mixture composed of leaf mould, compost, rotted turves and loam with a little peat which helps keep the substrate evenly moist in summer.