Lantana montevidensis vs. camara

>Subject: Lantana
>Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 02:48:52 -0400 (EDT)
>            <snip>
> Is there a reason that Lantana seed is not available?  I love Lantana, and
> particularly the newish lavender strain.  But the areas I wish to plant are
> somewhat large, and the plants are usually pretty expensive.  I've looked for
> seed, and never seen it.  Is it just hard to grow from seed?  Or would it be
> best to start with a few plants and propagate through cuttings?
> TIA for any help.
> Patricia Ryan

Patricia -

The Lavender Lantana is Lantana montevidensis, also called Trailing
Lantana.  It has been all too common in the trade in past years, so
perhaps it is becoming less and less grown.  It differs from the
shrubbier L. camara in being more hardy, quite lax and trailing in
habit, and in its lavender color (L. camara hybrids come in some
multi-colored forms including white, yellow, orange, red, and a
candy pink, generally various colors within the same cluster).

L. montevidensis can cover very large areas in little time, so if
indeed you do have a large area, you can likely start with few
plants and still get good coverage over a short time.  It also roots
where it trails, so you'll end up with various plants surrounding
the mother.  Cuttings are pretty reliable as well, during warmish
months.  My own plant is cut back very hard annually to keep it
within bounds, and 'renew' the stems (lots of flowers and healthy
leaves), but I'm starting to feel it is not worth the effort (you
can come and dig it out for me if you'd like!).

I have never seen seed available for this species, nor have I ever
seen any produced on my plants (they do produce handsome, little,
pale green bract clusters after all the flower fall), nor seedlings
in the garden.  L. camara produces copious amounts of black berries
which are dispersed by birds and certainly the reason why this is
such a pest in Australia.

I actually grow three forms of this plant - the 'type' species with
reddish-purple or lavender-purple flowers, the pure white form from
Monrovia (often called 'White Lightning'! - who comes up with these
names!), and a selected pale lavender pink of my own.  This third
plant is not yet in the trade - I discovered it a few years back in
a garden, sporting off the 'type' species.  It seems to be
stablizing (occasionally reverts back to the reddish purple).  I
like the softer color and have been trying to interest local growers
into propagating it, but with little success as yet.  If someone out
there might be interested in helping this plant get a chance in the
trade, let me know!  It shows a little more restraint in habit, as
does the white form, but seems vigorous and healthy.  I've resisted
'selling' it to someone like Monrovia as I object to people
patenting plants they have had no hand in creating!

 Sean A. O'Hara           
 710 Jean Street          
 Oakland, California  94610-1459    h o r t u l u s   a p t u s
 (510) 987-0577                     'a garden suited to its purpose'

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