Lantana camara, also known as big-sage (Malaysia), wild-sage, red-sage, white-sage (Caribbean) and tickberry (South Africa), is a species of flowering plant within the verbena family, Verbenaceae, that is native to the American tropics.
Lantana camara, a beautiful plant often planted in gardens, has spread from its native Central and South America to around 50 different countries, where it has become an invasive species. It spread from the Americas into the rest of the world when it was brought back to Europe by Dutch explorers and cultivated widely, soon spreading into Asia and Oceania, where it established itself as a notorious weed.
Lantana camara will often out-compete other more desirable species, leading to a reduction in biodiversity. It can also cause problems if it invades agricultural areas as a result of its toxicity to livestock as well as its ability to form dense thickets which if left unchecked can greatly reduce the productivity of farm land.
The name Lantana derives from the Latin name of the wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana, the flowers of which closely resemble Lantana.
Top growth winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11 (roots hardy to Zone 9). In St. Louis, grow as annual bedding plants or in containers that may be overwintered indoors in bright, cool (40s) locations. Container plants can be trained as standards. Easily grown as bedding plants in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates poor soils. Since plants for bedding are relatively inexpensive, most gardeners purchase new plants each spring rather than trying to overwinter ones from the current year. Cultivars generally do not come true from seed, however, so cuttings may be taken in summer from favorite plants for overwintering.
Native to the Central and South America, this species of lantana (also commonly called shrub verbena) is an upright frost-tender shrub that grows 3-6’ tall. It has escaped gardens throughout the world and is considered to be a noxious weed in many frost-free/tropical areas where it can rapidly spread to form dense thickets. It has naturalized in parts of the southern U.S. including southern Florida, the Gulf Coast and southern California. When grown in St. Louis, plants placed out in spring after last frost date may grow to as much as 3-4’ tall by the end of the summer. Tiny 5-lobed flowers in dense hemispherical clusters (to 2” diameter) bloom summer to fall. Flower colors include white, yellow, orange, red and purple, often mixed in the same cluster. Ovate, toothed, dark green leaves (to 4” long) are rough-wrinkled above. Leaves are aromatic when bruised. Many cultivars and hybrids are available, including dwarf and trailing plants, to the point where this species is seldom found in commerce. Flowers are attractive to butterflies.
No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for whiteflies and spider mites, particularly on overwintering plants.
Annual bedding plant. Containers. Houseplant.