Penta & Lantana

ladywingr(9b/10a)May 4, 2011

Well, I'm going to try yet again. I generally kill both of these plants. I've tried sun, part shade, dry, not dry, mulched, not mulched.

Do you have any tips that may keep this batch alive? Water, soil, sun requirements?

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You can KILL lantana? My wife talks about how pretty it is but as a semi Florida native I've always put it in the category as sandspurs and stinging nettles.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:18AM
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Pentas in my yard like bright indirect sun and regular watering. Lantana likes sun and is drought tolerant BUT since it is so hot and dry right now it might appreciate some afternoon shade and regular watering until it is established.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:41AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I don't know about the pentas, but if you ignore it, or even insult the lantana, maybe cut it down a couple times, let it think you don't want it there, it should last forever.

Seriously, though, I know there are different kinds but the common one that makes yellow/pink flowers grows wild up here, usually killed above ground in winter, but always comes back. It's growing along my CL fence and it's a bit of a chore to remove the dead branches in the spring but being a yankee until a few years ago, I just love having it there. All kinds of butterflies visit it all summer.

It thrives in my yard and my Mom's a few miles away in unamended soil, no water given except rain. Mine is just in the grass, parts of it get mowed sometimes. Hers is in a flower bed that was mulched once about 4 years ago but the mulch has all decomposed and she just has a leaf cover (oak and southern magnolia) for mulch at this point. Mine get about 4 ft. tall, very upright, thick branches about the size of a sharpie marker, they are in more sun. Hers get about 2 ft in more shade, thinner branches, and are kind of floppy. Should be fine down there where you are. Have you been over-watering maybe?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 10:26AM
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Yeah, I have a big bed of penta, lantana, and plumbago. I just stuck 'em in the ground, watered them in at first and then never did a darned thing and I have to go in and whack them all back periodically because they try to take over. The plumbago is a bit fussier than the other two, but mostly because they're always trying to crowd it out. I put them all in over a year ago and haven't watered them once since they got established.

How far back is it safe to chop pentas? Does anyone know? I've been a little cautious about how much I prune them, but I'd like to give them a good whack before the rains come.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 10:44AM
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Both plants seem to thrive on neglect. The only reason I can think of for them not thriving is possibly too much TLC as nothing seems to bother them!
I recently transplanted a huge Penta without cutting it back first. I never expected it to survive, but it did! I think the Penta can take a pretty severe haircut without damage - mine have at least! They die back completely in severe cold but pop up again as soon as the weather warms.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:55AM
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Irma_StPete(z9 FL)

ladywr, my experience has been like yours. However, I have a purple lantana that is in it's 2nd year of expanding and blooming. It gets much sun in a bed between annuals I am hand-watering each day to see how long I can keep them blooming or at least alive. So far so good, and perhaps the lantana gets food and water from it's pampered bedmates.

Pentas are on my "tired of trying" list. The ones in the store no longer seem pretty! So many other things, wild or planted, are bringing in the butterflys right now.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 12:31PM
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I have pretty good luck with Pentas, but I can't get Lantana to grow no matter what I do. I have tried and tried and it always dies. sun, shade, water, no water, ground, pots.. nothing helps. Maybe after reading this I'll try one more time. I've heard that the yellow is heartier?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 3:04PM
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I've tried the neglect, and I've tried the attention. Sounds like I need to find that happy medium. I have the "mounding" type of lantana that has lasted a couple years.

Planted some yellow and purple lantana today - we'll see what happens!

The red pentas will get more water than I have been doing in the past, maybe will have some luck there.

If nothing else, guess they will just be pricey annuals.

Thanks! :-)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 5:57PM
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chloe92us(10A Sarasota area)

I agree- I am trying to keep a small bed of pentas alive at the moment, and with the dry spell we're having, I have to water them every other day or they wilt- I just have no patience for it. Decorative plants shouldn't have to be watered so much, IMHO.

Lantana----the jury is still out on them for me. The trailing purple seem to do very well for me. The yellow are so-so. Some have bounced back from the freeze, others are still just bare twigs (and I cut them back to about 1/3 in March).

The plants that people say are high maintenance are the ones that for me are easy. The "low maintenance" plants for me are the ones that die. Go figure.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 6:10PM
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Yep - like me. I'm more than a bit out of zone for fiddlewood and jamaica caper. They're doing fabulously! The caper seems to love it's 3rd location - loaded with buds and is starting to bloom. The fiddlewood hit the right spot the first time. Bloomed all winter.

Ah, but it's the joy of gardening! :-)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:26PM
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julieyankfan(z9FL Pasco Cty.)

I bought the pretty yellow/pink ones and killed them. Also paid for the yellow - killed them, too. Got a free yellow one from the Green Thumb Festival and it came back even after the freeze!
Got 2 free pentas from there and the one in the pot died. The one in the ground lived, but the freeze got it. I had planted it in a space that nothing else grew in and it lasted 2 yrs.
I bought 2 yellow/red lantana for a butterfly garden and 3 pentas and so far so good. I intend to ignore them once they are established.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 11:38AM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

Hi ladywingr,

Pentas are one of the staples of my garden. I only plant the tall ones and the midsized starburst ones because they last much longer for me (2-4 years). The dwarf kind lasts less than a year in my hands and doesn't look as good. I think butterflies and hummingbirds prefer the tall ones also. For me they do best in part sun/ to 2/3 day sun. They don't like to get a lot of water. The ones I have that get little to no sprinkler do the best. What eventually gets them is nematodes. A leaf mulch not right up to the stem works great for them as it doesn't keep them too wet. I absolutely love these plants as do the wildlife.

Lantanas do just ok in my yard as I don't have as much sun as they like.

This is an old photo from 2009. These pentas are still in the same spot and are still doing well. Third year.

This photo is from 2008. These are starburst pentas. I just pulled these a month ago.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:23PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Oh, no. Don't tell me that nematodes get pentas, too. I just started with pentas this year and decided that I was going to do mass plantings of them. I planted gobs of them. What can one do to prevent nematodes? I know they are down in the soil. Anything I can do to stop them?


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:49PM
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Golly, I'm the original grey thumb, but I just don't understand how anyone can have problems with these two plants. I just stuck these in the ground a year ago in December, watered them daily till they took hold and literally haven't done anything since then, not even watering, except to cut them back when they get too exuberant, and they were poor quality plants, too, gift from a neighbor with a knack for picking out the runts from a flat:

Sorry about the lousy pic, using my ipod.

But my suggestion would be that if you're having problems you're taking too much care of them, most likely. And yeah, nematodes everywhere, but I've never seen them bother these at all.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 11:47AM
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I've had the same experience with pentas and I've come to the conclusion that they don't like where I put them. Too close to my foundation, maybe. Or there are nematodes, like Anna said. The bed I've been planting just seems deadly. I've improved the soil but it still slowly kills what I plant. It may just be WHERE you are planting them. Try them other places and see if they like it better. I moved my trailing lantanta to a raised bed along a fence and they are doing great. Again, away from the foundation.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
Julie in WPB

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 12:30PM
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>I've improved the soil but it still slowly kills what I plant.

Maybe that's it. The bed in my photo is full of sand and construction rubble left over from when this place was built 30 years ago. It was full of feral lantana before I hacked out space for the other plants.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 3:02PM
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Anna, you just have the most wonderful success with some plants. I really enjoy the pictures of your garden.

I keep trying different places - maybe one of these it will work out. That's part of gardening and farming - we never give up :-)

Thank you all.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 8:40PM
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