When to prune lantana?

Pruning Lantanas – How To Prune Lantana Plants

How and when to prune lantana bushes is often a highly debated topic. One thing that is agreed upon is the fact that depending on the type of lantana, these plants can get quite large—up to six feet tall and sometimes just as wide. Therefore, trimming lantana plants is something that gardeners will eventually have to do. If not kept under control, not only will they become an eyesore, but they may potentially take over and crowd out other nearby plants.

When Lantana Pruning Should Be Done?

Some people believe you should be trimming lantana plants in winter, while others say spring. Basically, you should go with whatever timing works best for you; however, spring is always preferable.

Not only do you want to remove old growth, but you also want to ensure hardiness throughout winter, especially in colder regions. For this reason, fall is definitely out when it comes to pruning lantanas, as this can make them more susceptible to winter cold and moisture brought about by any precipitation. This moisture is thought to be a leading factor in the rotting of lantana crowns.

How to Prune Lantana Plants

In late winter or early spring, you should prune lantanas back to about six inches to a foot from the ground, especially if there’s a lot of old or dead growth. Overgrown plants can be pruned back to about a third of their height (and spread if necessary).

You can also lightly trim lantana plants periodically throughout the season to stimulate new growth and encourage flowering. This is usually done by trimming lantana tips back about one to three inches.

Following the pruning of lantana plants, you may also want to apply some light fertilizer. This will not only encourage quicker blooms, but will also help to nourish and rejuvenate the plants after both the long winter nap as well as any stress associated with pruning.

Lantana is a very popular landscape and is used in many different ways. It’s classified as a flowering perennial and comes in shrub form as well as ground cover/trailing. It flowers from Spring through Fall (who doesn’t love that?!) and is available in a wide range of colors and combos.

Here, you’ll learn all about pruning lantana, how to do it and what you need to know, in late winter/early spring.

I’ll be showing you how I prune my Lantana “Dallas Red” which grows to around 4’x 5′ and my Lantana “New Gold” which is a ground cover at 1-1/2′ x 4′. Both are prolific bloomers which attract a multitude of hummingbirds and butterflies.

Lantana’s long flowering season is most likely the reason it’s widely seen growing as a perennial in California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.

Lantana is hardy in USDA zones 8-11. It grows very fast once the weather warms up and can handle the summer heat here in Tucson just fine. Although it’s a perennial in many areas, you can most likely find it sold as an annual in winter cold climates.

I was visiting my friend in Connecticut one summer and she had it growing as an annual in a pot on her back deck. The hummingbirds were very happy!

Here’s that fresh new growth that you want to encourage – it means lots of flowers.

Why should you prune lantana?

Lantana grows very fast & blooms non-stop for 8 months or so. It needs to be cut back on the regular to keep it from getting too leggy & ratty &. It also appreciates a rest after that long period of blooming & before the new growth appears.

Lantana blooms on that new growth so you want to encourage as much of it as you can.

When should you prune lantana?

I’ve always pruned lantana in late winter or early spring. When I lived in Santa Barbara on the coast of California, it was in February. Tucson has colder winters so I do it in early to mid-March. You want to wait until the danger of frost has passed & the evening temps are consistently above 38-40F.

Some people prune lantana hard (back to 6-12″) in November. That’s how the landscapers in my community do it. I much prefer to give mine a light shaping in November & do the biggest prune in March.

013 Here’s how some commercial gardeners prune lantana – straight across & back to around 6″. Way to “sticky” & misshapen for my taste.

Steps for pruning lantana:

Start by making sure your pruners are clean & sharp. If you’re like me, you have a lot of Spring pruning to do!

I start by taking out whole branches.

Remove branches which are touching the ground. They eventually get smothered out by all that new growth.

Take out branches which are crossing over, weak or awkward, along with ones which are dead. This thins the plant out so you can get an idea of how it’s going to look.

With my “Dallas Red”, I cut out a few branches which had been hit by the cold.

Prune the remaining branches back by 1/2. I always take out a few more branches towards the end as my eye sees pleasing.

Be sure to step back a couple of times during the process & see how the plant is looking.

In a few weeks I’ll take another snip or 2 if need be.

Time it took me to prune my trailing lantana & my shrub lantana: 15 minutes each.

During the season

The heaviest pruning is done in the late Winter/early Spring. I’ll do 1 or 2 much lighter ones to shape during the summer. Sometime in early November I prune lightly just to shape it going into the cooler months.

3 warnings regarding Lantana flowers:

Lantana has a somewhat pungent foliage.

Some find the smell offensive but I don’t. Let’s just say it doesn’t bother me but I wouldn’t want a perfume made out of it! The odor releases only when the leaves are handled so you don’t have worry about a stinky plant in your garden.

The leaves have a light sandpaper feel to them.

To some people, they’re a skin irritant. They cause a minor dermatitis reaction, not a severe rash like poison oak or poison ivy. It has never aggravated me but I usually wear gloves when pruning any outdoor plants.

Many cultivars & varieties produce dark blue/black berries.

Despite the fact they’re attractive, don’t eat them. Warning: the berries are very toxic. Some say when ripe, some when unripe & some say both. I just leave them be.

Despite the fact that the berries are toxic, you see them planted all over in public areas. There are a few hedges of them near the Santa Barbara train station, along the beach sidewalks & up State Street. The same is true in Southern California. I’ve never heard of anyone dying of lantana poisoning so don’t let it stop you from planting it.

My “Dallas Red” (shrub form) before.

After its March 14th pruning. Much more opened up with plenty of room for that beautiful new growth to branch out.

Good to know

Lantana blooms on new growth so you want to cut away a good portion of the previous season’s growth to make way for the new.

How much you take off is up to you. I stick within the range of taking it back by 1/3 to 1/2. The scalping method isn’t for me.

Lantana is semi or fully deciduous where the winters are cooler, like here in Tucson. Don’t be alarmed if your plant loses its leaves. The new growth will be abundant & much prettier.

Speaking of the previous season’s growth, some will fall off by Spring & some will still be on the plant. It’ll eventually fall off as the new growth emerges.

If you choose to take off the old foliage, be careful not to rip off the new growth in the process.

This isn’t artistic, precise pruning. If you’re pruning it for the 1st time, don’t be afraid you’ll wreck it. Lantana is forgiving & grows back fast once the weather warms & the days get longer.

You really want to thin this plant out because the new growth comes on vigorously.

“New Gold” (trailing/ground cover form) before.

After its pruning. As you can see, the stems on this one are thinner & there are more of them

To give you an idea, this is how much I took off of “New Gold”.


Lantana is very forgiving when it comes to pruning which is a testament to how tough and resilient it really is. If you like non-stop blooming for months, give this plant a go. The hummingbirds and butterflies will be most grateful!

Happy gardening,

Winter lantana care simultaneously exemplifies the mystical pleasure and the aching frustration of gardening. Most lantana varieties are a bit too tender to survive a winter north of Atlanta. ‘New Gold’, in particular, seems to have a death wish every December.

On the other hand, Rick Berry, the proprietor of Goodness Grows Nursery in Lexington, introduced ‘Miss Huff’ lantana to the trade because it can usually survive cold winters in Athens.

That said, even ‘Miss Huff’ has a hard time coming back in spring if she has been fertilized heartily and made to grow vigorously the previous fall. She seems to do better the worse she is treated in summer.

Truthfully, there are two trains of thought on lantana pruning. Some say that if you prune them before springtime then water will drip down into the hollow stems and rot the crown. A second faction says that many fine perennials have hollow stems and are perfectly hardy when cut back in winter.

I align myself with the second group, mostly because lantana is such an ugly plant when left unpruned all winter. I think that it can be cut back to a height of twelve inches in December or January each year. Lightly cover the stems that are left with three inches of pine straw. It is my feeling that winter temperatures have much more to do with lantana’s survival than at what time it is pruned back.

Here’s a research project done by school children to prove my point:

Comparison of Lantana Pruning Timing


Lantana Winter Hardiness

Tags For This Article: lantana, pruning

Dr. James Diaz, professor and director of environmental and occupational health sciences at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public Health, authored “The Ham and Eggs Plant, Lantana Camara”. The article was published online ahead of print in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.

About a third of our drugs are derived from plants. Plants are also vitamin-rich food sources. Among the poisonous plants, most cause skin reactions, like poison ivy if touched, or nonfatal nausea and vomiting if ingested. A few plants contain potentially lethal neurotoxins like water hemlock or cardiotoxins like foxglove. Some plants can be highly toxic to animals (including pets) but not to man if ingested, like sago palm and lantana, the topic of this article.

Lantana varieties are popular garden plants that are also known as ham and eggs plants because of the vibrant pink-red and yellow-orange colors of its flowers which attract bees, butterflies, and children. Lantanas are perennials which bloom continuously throughout the warm months of spring through fall. Dr. Diaz, a board-certified medical toxicologist and an expert on poisonous plants and mushrooms, points out the toxins in lantana, long felt to be highly toxic if ingested, are more toxic to animals, especially cattle and horses, than to humans.

Should a child consume a lantana bloom, nausea and vomiting may result and be inconsequential as long as fluids are replaced to avoid dehydration. In conclusion, keep your children away from poison ivy, and your pets away from lantanas and sago palms, and enjoy the colorful blooms of lantanas until winter.

SOURCE: http://www.aspph.org/lsu-examines-the-ham-and-eggs-plant-lantana-camara/

Lantana camara ‘Ham and Eggs’

  • Attributes: Genus: Lantana Species: camera Family: Verbenaceae Life Cycle: Annual Perennial Woody Recommended Propagation Strategy: Stem Cutting Country Or Region Of Origin: tropical areas of South America Wildlife Value: Flowers attract bees, butterflies (particularly Swallowtails, Cabbage White, Gulf Fritillary, Fiery Skipper ) and hummingbirds. Berries are eaten by birds. Play Value: Attractive Flowers Attracts Pollinators Colorful Wildlife Food Source Dimensions: Height: 2 ft. 0 in. – 3 ft. 0 in. Width: 3 ft. 0 in. – 4 ft. 0 in.

  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial Poisonous Shrub Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Deciduous Habit/Form: Clumping Dense Mounding Growth Rate: Rapid Maintenance: Low Texture: Medium
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Texture: Clay High Organic Matter Loam (Silt) Soil pH: Neutral (6.0-8.0) Soil Drainage: Good Drainage Moist Occasionally Dry Available Space To Plant: 3 feet-6 feet NC Region: Coastal Piedmont Usda Plant Hardiness Zone: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Black Blue Orange Red/Burgundy Display/Harvest Time: Fall Fruit Type: Drupe Fruit Length: < 1 inch Fruit Width: < 1 inch Fruit Description: orange or red fleshy berry-like drupe turns metallic blue or purple-black
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Cream/Tan Gold/Yellow Pink Flower Inflorescence: Umbel Flower Value To Gardener: Long Bloom Season Showy Flower Bloom Time: Spring Summer Flower Shape: Star Tubular Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: Showy pink and yellow tubular flowers arranged in a rounded umbel inflorescence
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Deciduous Leaf Color: Green Leaf Feel: Rough Deciduous Leaf Fall Color: Insignificant Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Shape: Ovate Leaf Margin: Serrate Hairs Present: No Leaf Length: 1-3 inches Leaf Width: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: pinnate venation, sandpaper texture
  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Cross Section: Square
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Coastal Container Patio Slope/Bank Walkways Landscape Theme: Butterfly Garden Cottage Garden Drought Tolerant Garden Pollinator Garden Design Feature: Accent Border Foundation Planting Small groups Specimen Attracts: Bees Butterflies Hummingbirds Moths Songbirds Resistance To Challenges: Deer Drought Dry Soil Heat Humidity Poor Soil Salt Problems: Contact Dermatitis Poisonous to Humans Problem for Cats Problem for Children Problem for Dogs Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans: Poison Severity: Medium Poison Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, labored respiration; the leaves may cause dermatitis. Poison Toxic Principle: Triterpenes (lantadene A & B) Causes Contact Dermatitis: Yes Poison Part: Flowers Fruits Leaves Sap/Juice

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Tuesday – February 12, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Winter pruning of lantana from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in north Austin. Due to our mild winter, my lantana has not died off this season as it usually does after a freeze – and so I have not cut it back yet this year which I typically do about right now. As a matter of fact, it is blooming nicely due to the January rains – and the butterflies are loving it. Is it ok not to cut it back this year? Will it get too scraggly?


From a previous Smarty Plants answer:

The lantana native to Texas is Lantana urticoides (Texas lantana). Some of the non-natives and hybrids that are more tropical in nature might not be so forgiving of cold weather, but we think pruning suggestions should be about the same for both.

From The Georgia Gardener, here is an article on pruning lantana. Although Austin is marginal, you should probably not be too worried about your plants freezing back and dying; in fact, they should be semi-evergreen with long periods of bloom. However, we always liked to prune them down to about 6 inches from the ground when they got scraggly in mid-winter. If they are not scraggly, and the butterflies are enjoying them, we would say let them be. Even during the summer, you may find it advisable to prune them back lightly if they try to take over your garden and get too big.

From the Image Gallery

Texas lantana
Lantana urticoides
Texas lantana
Lantana urticoides

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East Texas Gardening


After spring blooms have faded and true summer begins, lantana (Lantana camara) is just getting started. And when the intense heat of August and September shrivels verbena and zinnias, lantana is getting its second wind.

A true heat lover, lantana is very drought tolerant when provided with organic, well-drained soil and weekly watering – even in the most extreme temperatures. It can be grown from nursery transplants that become available in early spring and it is an excellent source of color throughout the summer months.

Lantana is happiest in full sun but it will tolerate filtered afternoon sun. According to Neil Sperry’s Complete Guide to Texas Gardening (Second Edition), lantana and its hybrids typically grow from 10 to 36 inches high and wide, but specimens larger than five feet have been seen. Trailing varieties include “Gold Mound” and “New Gold,” which are both yellow, and “Silver Mound,” which is white. A bush form of lantana comes in a large variety of colors, including “Confetti,” a mix of yellow, pink and purple, and “Radiation,” which combines red and orange for a bright summer show. Sperry recommends regular pruning to maintain a compact habit; however, pruning too frequently will limit bloom.

Most lantana varieties are considered annuals but many will survive mild winters. Cut dead canes to the ground in mid-winter; if the plant has survived, small sprouts will emerge from the base of the plant in early spring.

Whether in a border or as a mass planting, lantana will provide long-lasting color and variety. Choose between trailing or bush forms, pick the color you like, then plant, sit back, and enjoy the colorful show.

Amy Moser, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


My wife and I moved back to Tyler in January 2006 after a 36 year hiatus. We lived in Wilson County, Texas, about 25 miles Southeast of San Antonio, from 1993 until our return to Tyler. In the small community of La Vemia where our 3-acre “spread” was, the predominant soil is deep sand somewhat similar to parts of Smith County. We were blessed with wild flowers, e.g. Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes, and Crimson Clover in addition to other wild flowers and much wild life including turkeys, deer, owls, hawks, the ubiquitous squirrel and such.

In addition, we had many “volunteer” lantana plants just about anywhere we looked on our property. I tried transplanting some “volunteers” and found them to be very easy to grow. When I dug them up, to my surprise and chagrin, the sand would fall off the root system completely. Fearful that they might not survive, I nevertheless dug a hole with my post hole digger wherever I wanted some color and dropped them into the hole and backfilled with loose sand and compacted it slightly and kept the plant moist for a week or ten days and crossed my fingers. Surprisingly the root system began to “take root” and “voila” the plants started showing signs of life.

Lantana is a very hardy plant which requires very little maintenance and is quite drought tolerant. It has a beautiful flower and blooms throughout most of the spring and summer. There is a plethora of different varieties to complement your flowering garden or shrub bed. It is a perennial which should survive Smith County winters with a covering of 3 to 4 inches of mulch. However– it, like Crepe Myrtle and most flowering plants, requires a very sunny location. You should cut them back to ground level before covering them with mulch after they begin to go dormant.

I heartily recommend you try them if you have a spot in your yard for a very hardy, beautiful, almost maintenance-free perennial.

David E. Pierson, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

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