gardeningBy Clodagh and Dick Handscombe, Practical holistic gardeners living in Spain for 25 years

For many, Lantanas are the roses of the Costas as they give colour for most of the year, and can be trained in similar formats and can be used in the garden in similar ways. The main differences being that Lantanas give a subtropical feel to a garden, while roses give the temperate feel of the cooler climates of England, Norway, Holland etc and the gardens of Granada and Madrid.

The main success factors for Lantanas and roses are that you buy them with as good a root ball as possible, that you enrich the ground with good compost and rotted manure before you plant, that you water deep to encourage deep tap roots to grow. Once the tap roots are established, both Lantanas and roses will need little watering and when you do, it should be deep, say once a week, and not shallowly on a daily drip system. Luckily, Lantanas then need less care, as they will not need the annual winter mulching with horse manure, one or two feeds during the summer and autumn and regular dead heading as flowers die to stimulate second and third flowerings. Lantanas just keep flowering and will just need the occasional trimming to shape. As for annual cutbacks, both plants should be pruned hard in January, bush formats down to two buds per branch. Although roses come in a multitude of colours and forms of flowers, Lantanas come in less.

When we came to Spain twenty five years ago there were two types that could be found:

Firstly, the bush format of Lantana Camara which came three forms; the strong growing orange red flowering ones (commonly called Spanish flag or Bandera); a less compact and more wild pink flowered variety and a more squat yellow flowered variety. Just occasionally one would find white flowered ones.

Secondly, the useful ground-cover Lantana Montevidensis, which was mostly with mauve flowers, but occasionally one would find white flowering ones.

Since then plant breeders in France, Germany and the USA have widened the choice, although you may need to visit several garden centres before you find the new offers.

  • Now an enormous number of Lantana Camera flower colours are possible. Search ‘Lantana Breeders’ on the internet and open up a few catalogues. You will be amazed. Unfortunately with the crisis, not all are stocked in Spain. Also standard bushes are now frequently stocked.
  • A yellow flowered Lantana Montevidensis is now widely available.
  • A dwarf form of Lantana Camera is now available in a variety of colours. This grows lower and wider than the original bush plants.
  • Also most plants are now sterile to prevent them from self seeding. Although Lantanas cause few problems in Spain, they were introduced into English colonies and are a major pest In Ceylon, parts of Australia and the southern states of the USA.

Together with hibiscus, begonias and bougainvilleas, Lantana can soon produce an enviable subtropical garden effect.

gardening-booksFor other plants, Part Four of our book ‘Your Garden in Spain –From Planning to Planting and Maintenance’ describes and illustrates some 400 useful plants together with their botanical, Spanish and English names.

Clodagh and Dick’s popular books are available from high street and internet bookshops plus their website where autographed copies are available together with a free copy of Dick’s latest book ‘Living well from our Mediterranean Garden’.