By Jackie Carroll
Lantanas come into bloom in summer with large, neatly-shaped clusters of flowers in a wide range of colors. A cluster of lantana flowers start out all one color, but as the blossoms age they change to different colors, giving the cluster an interesting, multicolor appearance. This tender perennial is grown as an annual in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones cooler than 9. Propagating these plants is easy, and the following information will help with that.
How to Propagate Lantana
Lantanas grown in the garden are often hybrids, so propagating lantana plants from seeds may not result in offspring that are similar to the parent plant. To collect the seeds, harvest the small, black berries when they are fully ripe and remove the seeds from the berries. Clean the seeds and allow them to dry for a couple of days before storing them in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Cuttings always produce a plant exactly like the parent plant. If you are partial to the color or other characteristics of a particular plant, take cuttings in the spring rather than growing lantana from seed. To preserve plants until spring in cool climates, cut them back and then pot them up so that you can care for them indoors over winter.
Growing Lantana from Seeds
Start lantana seeds indoors six to eight weeks before you plan to transplant them outdoors. Soak the seeds for 24 hours in warm water to soften the seed coat.
Fill small, individual pots to within ½ inch of the top with soilless seed starting medium and moisten the medium with water. Lay one or two seeds in the center of each pot and cover the seeds with 1/8 inch of soil.
If more than one seedling emerges, clip out the weakest plant with a pair of scissors.
Growing lantana from seed is easiest when you keep the soil consistently moist and at a steady temperature between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit day and night. A good way to maintain the moisture is to place the pots in a plastic bag and seal it. While the pots are in the bag, keep them away from direct sunlight. Check the pots often and remove the bag as soon as the seedlings emerge. Don’t give up too soon—the seeds may take a month or more to germinate.
How to Grow Lantana from Cuttings
Propagating lantana plants from cuttings is easy. Take cuttings of new growth in spring. Cut 4-inch tips from the stems and remove the lower leaves from the cutting, leaving only one or two leaves at the top.
Prepare a small pot of seed starting mix or a half-and-half mixture of peat moss and perlite. Moisten the mix with water and make a hole 2 inches deep in the center of the pot with a pencil.
Coat the lower two inches of the cutting with rooting hormone and place it in the hole, firming the medium around the base of the cutting so that it stands up straight.
Place three or four craft sticks in the soil near the edge of the pot. Space them evenly around the pot. Put the potted cutting in a plastic bag and seal the top. The craft sticks will keep the bag from touching the cutting.
Check occasionally to make sure the soil is moist, but otherwise leave the cutting undisturbed until you see signs of new growth, which means that the cutting has rooted. Rooting takes three to four weeks.
Remove the cutting from the bag and place it in a sunny window until you are ready to transplant it outdoors.