Lantana Ground Cover Plants: Tips On Using Lantana As A Ground Cover

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Lantana is a gorgeous, vividly colored butterfly magnet that blooms abundantly with little attention. Most lantana plants reach heights of 3 to 5 feet, so lantana as a ground cover doesn’t sound very practical – or does it? If you live in USDA plant hardiness zone 9 or above, trailing lantana plants make wonderful year-round ground covers. Read on to learn more about lantana ground cover plants.

Is Lantana a Good Ground Cover?

Trailing lantana plants, native to Southern Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia, work exceptionally well as a ground cover in warm climates. They grow fast, reaching heights of only 12 to 15 inches. Trailing lantana plants are extremely heat- and drought-tolerant. Even if the plants look a little worse for wear during hot, dry weather, a good watering will bring them back very quickly.

Botanically, trailing lantana are known as either Lantana sellowiana or Lantana montevidensis. Both are correct. However, although lantana loves heat and sunlight, it isn’t crazy about cold and will be nipped when the first frost rolls around in autumn. Keep in mind you can still plant trailing lantana plants if you live in a cooler climate, but only as annuals.

Lantana Ground Cover Varieties

Purple trailing lantana is the most common type of Lantana montevidensis. It is a slightly hardier plant, suitable for planting in USDA zones 8 through 11. Others include:

  • L. montevidensis ‘Alba,’ also known as white trailing lantana, produces clusters of sweetly scented, pure white flowers.
  • L. montevidensis ‘Lavender Swirl’ produces a profusion of large blooms that emerge white, gradually turning pale lavender, then deepening to a more intense shade of purple.
  • L. montevidensis ‘White Lightnin’ is a resilient plant that produces hundreds of pure white blooms.
  • L. montevidensis ‘Spreading White’ produces lovely white bloom in spring, summer and autumn.
  • New Gold (Lantana camara x L. montevidensis – is a hybrid plant with clusters of vivid, golden-yellow blooms. At 2 to 3 feet, this is a slightly taller, mounding plant that spreads to 6 to 8 feet in width.

Note: Trailing lantana can be a bully and may be considered an invasive plant in certain areas. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Office before planting if aggressiveness is a concern.

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