If you’re looking for a deer-resistant flower with a long blooming season, lantana is a great choice.
There are about 150 species from which to choose, and they come in various colors and sizes. So, there’s bound to be one that strikes your fancy.
Is lantana deer resistant? In most cases, deer won’t touch lantana because of its strong smell and rough texture. Famine situations are the exception to the rule. However, lantana plants are toxic and may kill a deer if they eat over 1% of their body weight in lantana leaves, flowers, or berries.
By learning more about this hardy flower, its deer resistance, the best varieties to try, and how to care for it, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying gorgeous blooms that will be the envy of the neighborhood.
Let’s get started.
Finding plants for your landscape can be tough when you live in a deer-populated area.
The simplest approach to improving your landscape without treating the local deer to a nightly buffet is to grow plants, like lantana, that deer generally do not care much for.
Why Deer Do Not Like Lantana
Deer do not like lantana because they tend to avoid strong-smelling plants. They also prefer plants with softer leaves and shoots rather than the rough, jagged leaves and prickly stems that lantana has.
However, lantana does not act as a deer repellant. Some gardeners report success planting strong-smelling plants like lantana near deer-temptation plants.
However, in most cases deer will avoid lantana only to move on to softer plants nearby.
When Deer May Eat Lantana
There’s no such thing as a plant that is completely deer resistant. If the deer population is high and food is scarce, deer may sample plants like lantana that are usually deer resistant.
Lantana is most likely to tempt a starving deer when the first shoots come up in spring and the plant has yet to develop woody stems.
Lantana is toxic to mammals, including deer. The toxins in lantana are triterpene acids lantadene A and B.
When mammals eat 1% of their weight in lantana leaves, flowers, or berries, they will experience symptoms of poisoning or even death.
A toxic amount of lantana would be 1.25 pounds for the average adult doe or 3 pounds for the average adult buck.
Best Lantana Varieties To Plant
What are the best lantana varieties? Some of the best lantana species to plant include:
- Shrub Lantana (Lantana camara): This variety grows as a shrub up to 6 feet tall. It produces red, yellow, orange, and coral-pink blooms.
- Trailing Lantana (Lantana motevidensis): The growth of this lantana is low with trailing vines, growing 18 inches tall and 5 to 10 feet wide. The flower colors are shades of purple with possible touches of white unless hybridized.
- Popcorn Lantana (Lantana trifolia): Gardeners cultivate this variety for its pink or purple ornamental fruits that appear after flowering. The plants grow up to 3 feet high and wide.
- Lantana horrida: This variety grows up to 1 foot high. Blooms are excessive in summer and fall, producing red, orange, yellow, purple, or white flowers. Its name comes from its strong, pungent smell.
- Texas Lantana (Lantana urticoides): This spreading shrub-like lantana grows 3 to 5 feet high. It blooms from spring through the first frost with red, orange, and yellow tubular florets.
- Buttonsage Lantana (Lantana involucrata): This shrub-like lantana can reach 4 to 8 feet wide and tall. It has fragrant white florets with golden-yellow centers and leaves that smell like sage when crushed.
*Note: If you live in a warmer climate, be sure that any Lantana camara variety you buy is sterile and unable to produce viable pollen or seeds. Otherwise, it can become invasive.
Sterile varieties include:
- Bloomify™ Red
- Bloomify™ Rose
- Luscious® Royale Red Zone™
Caring for Lantana
Lantana are hardy plants with low demands for planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and mulching.
- Sunlight: Full sun
- Soil: Slightly acidic soil that drains quickly
- Growing Zones: 8-11 (to grow as a perennial)
Watering & Fertilizing Lantana
- Fertilizer: Use compost to enrich the soil, and add a slow-release fertilizer in the spring.
- Water: Lantana is drought resistant once established and only needs about an inch of water per week.
Lantana is a leggy plant that blooms nonstop for about eight months, so it can take over your garden if you don’t keep it pruned back. Pruning is especially essential in warmer climates where it is a perennial.
When should you prune lantana? There are three times you can prune lantana:
- Early spring: Trim back dead growth from winter after the danger of frost has passed and temperatures remain above 40°F.
- Summer: Do one or two light trims during the summer to shape the plant.
- Mid-fall: Many people trim lantana down to 6-12 inches after die-back has occurred to remove unsightly dead branches. New growth will appear from the plant’s base the following spring.
Pruning lantana involves the following steps:
- Clean and sharpen your pruners: Starting with clean pruners ensures you won’t cross-contaminate plants with diseases, and sharp blades make for easier work.
- Remove branches: Remove any branches that are touching the ground, crossing over each other, or are weak, awkward, or dead.
- Prune back leggy branches to shape the plant: Prune the remaining branches to control growth and provide a pleasing shape to the plant.
Lantana End-of-Season Care
If you live in an area with heavy frost and harsh winters, lantana grows as an annual and will die back in the winter.
At the end of lantana’s growing season, you can either remove the plant entirely or trim it to ground level and remove the dead branches.
However, if you live in hardiness zones 8-11, lantana functions as a perennial that will come back in the spring as long as the temperature stays above 28°F most nights.
To protect the roots of a perennial lantana in a low-temperature region, you should take the following steps:
- After the first frost: Cut back the plant to ground level, and spread 3-4 inches of mulch over the plant.
- In the spring: Pull back the mulch layer from the base of the plant to allow new shoots to grow.
Lantana’s strong scent repels some but not all creatures.
Will Rabbits Eat Lantana?
Some gardeners report rabbits occasionally eating their lantana, while others say that the strong scent keeps them away.
At any rate, lantana is toxic to rabbits, just as it is to other mammals. A 2-pound rabbit would only need to eat ⅓ of an ounce of lantana to consume a toxic amount, but this is a rare occurrence.
Does Lantana Keep Mosquitoes Away?
One study shows that houses with lantana have fewer mosquitoes around them than houses without lantana.
Another study shows that lantana extract repels 94.5% of Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes for up to two hours.
Lantana is a beautiful deer-resistant flower that grows well in a variety of hardiness zones. It’s easy to care for and is a perennial in warmer regions.
If you’re looking for a plant that deer will avoid, lantana can make a beautiful addition to your garden and provide extra benefits, such as keeping mosquitoes away and attracting butterflies.