By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden
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 (2 m.) 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.
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.
In late winter or early spring, you should prune lantanas back to about six inches to a foot (15 to 30.5 cm.) 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 (2.5 to 7.5 cm.).
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.
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Lantanas generally grow rapidly. Some cultivars, such as ‘Miss Huff’, are extremely vigorous. If plants outgrow their assigned space, they tolerate trimming back well during the growing season.
Lantana is valued for its long season of reliable bloom. Many cultivars display multiple colors within each two-inch wide disc-shaped flower head. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Foliage is coarse, lightly toothed and rough to the touch. Crushed leaves have a pungent scent, so you may want to locate where the plant it will not spread across walks if the odor offends you.
Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Jeanne-There are very few plants in my opinion that can be used as shrubs or groundcovers that are as hardy, beautiful flowering, and as drought resistant as the lantana. Many replace their lantana every 3 to 5 years as these plants can get woody and untidy looking over a period of years. Many of the lantanas need very little pruning each year to keep them looking nice. If your plants are growing well but getting to large for the garden they can be cut back. The best time to cut your lantana back is in early spring as new growth is starting to emerge. Pruning in the fall can cause the death of lantana as this makes the plant less resistant to winter cold weather. Rain entering stems can cause rotting and other diseases when cut back in the cooler wet season. The plants can be cut back to 12 inches of the ground along with cutting out any damaged or death growth. If you feel they are too large now I would only cut them back a third or less of there size now but not wait much longer in the year.
If you are interested in replacing them with another plant a few answers to questions would help to give you some ideas. What hardiness zone are you in. If your not sure give me your city and state and I can look it up. Is the area in full sun or does it get some shade during the day? Is the area kept watered or is the area fairly dry most of the time? Do you feel the soil is easily worked in or hard as clay soils can be? Does the soil seem to drain well or does water puddle for a time when watered or rained on?
I sounds as though your plants are doing well so you may be happy with pruning them back this coming year. It is always nice if keeping plants that seem to come back well each year and give you the color you enjoy can be saved with a little pruning. This pruning will also help to make the plants fuller without that woody looking appearance.
Answer #5 · Gardenality.com's Answer · Perennial Lantana are one of the best of the flowering perennial plants for all season color. But, even the lowest growing varieties such as Chapel Hill, Gold Mound, Trailing Lavender and New Gold can spread quite wide over time. I've got some three year old of these varieties in my landscape in mid Georgia and they're about 4 to 5 feet wide this summer. To keep them in bounds in narrow beds they'd usually have to be cut back some by mid-summer.
Otherwise, if you don't want to prune them occasionally, the plants John mentioned would be good alternatives. In outdoor living areas where we spend a lot of time, I always like to plant more types and varieties of plants. Gives us more to look at and enjoy when we're spending time in these areas. Too, if one type of plant doesn't do well, or you just don't like it, you can remove and replace only that one plant. I really like the Pixie Loropetalums and Drift Roses, especially the pink and red, which in my landscape seem to perform the best. Sedums, both the spreading ones and others like Autumn Joy, are great low maintenance plants. Goldsturm Daisy is a reliable summer flowering perennial as well. Think about ornamental grasses too. I really like Muhly Grass and some of the Pennisetums around pools. Salvia greggi and Hummingbird Plant (Dicliptera suberecta) are great for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Elephant ears are nice too around water. just make sure to get the dwarf or smaller growing varieties. Throw a couple boulders in the bed and these will really set all the plants off and add appeal.)
Plant trimming in South Florida can be a steady pastime. Here are tips on when and how to trim, how much to take off, and ways to keep this garden chore to a minimum.
All plants require a trim sometime.
. whether to keep them the height or shape you want, or to remove dead or dying fronds or leaves.
There's trimming and then there's hard pruning.
Plant trimming is shaping. This can be done any time of year in South Florida.
Hard pruning - cutting back up to one-third to even one-half of a plant - should only be done in warm months. March 15th through October 15th.
Always water well before giving a plant a hard pruning.
This isn't necessary for shaping, just heavy pruning. Wait at least an hour after watering to start cutting things back.
If you cut a plant back hard in cooler weather, the new growth that emerges may be hit hard by cold. (See the Cold Protection page for more wintertime tips.)
Snowbirds: give your landscape plants a hard pruning just before you leave for the summer.
Once a year is fine for pruning most plants.
Certain plants like azaleas are best left alone - trim or prune - until after they've finished their blooming season.
Cutting back after a bloom cycle on things that flower on and off all year will encourage new growth and more blooms, especially if you fertilize when you cut.
The Plant Pages will give you tips for each plant.
. on shaping or pruning, the growth rate, and the ultimate height or at what height you can keep it.
Plant growth rates are classified simply as slow, fast or moderate. And no two plants. even of the same variety. grow at the same pace.
Some plants grow fast for a while and then settle into a more moderate pace.
Traveler's Palm, for instance, grows fast until it starts developing a trunk. then its growth rate becomes more moderate.
But most keep the same pace all their lives. So how much plant trimming you have to do can depend on whether you use fast growing plants or those that have a slow or moderate rate of growth.
Sometimes you want a faster grower for privacy or shade. And if you want instant gratification - especially with a slow grower - buy a bigger, more mature specimen.
There are no definite numbers.
A plant's growth rate doesn't indicate it will grow a certain number of inches (or feet) in a year. A lot depends on placement, fertilizing and other care - and, of course, Mother Nature.
Unless a palm is considered "clustering," sending up many shoots, never cut a palm tree's trunk.
The head of a palm is its heart and soul, and if you chop its head off it's a goner.
Many multi-trunk palm specimens are considered "solitary," but with 2 or 3 palms planted together. Solitary palms cannot be cut back.
Clustering palms like arecas can be thinned out - some trunks cut to the ground while others are left to grow and fill in.
Some palms - like the foxtail palm pictured below - are self-cleaning, meaning they'll shed dead fronds on their own.
Others will need to have browned fronds cut off. And some will be too tall eventually to do yourself. these palms can be left to sport a "petticoat" of dead fronds around the base of their green tops. The old fronds will fall off on their own eventually, but some petticoat is usually always present.
Leaf trimming vs. stem trimming: Some shrubs like viburnum can take a manicured shaping with hedge trimmers.
Others, such as junipers, need to be hand trimmed by cutting branches rather than across foliage.
Certain shrubs like arboricola look best when stems rather than leaves are cut.
And a few like Texas sage benefit from an alternating pruning (cutting some branches taller, others shorter).
(No worries: The Plant Pages give instructions for each plant.)
How often and how you go about trimming bushes can depend on the look you want - formal or informal. A more informal landscape doesn't require regular sculpting but rather only cutting to shape now and then - and usually a hard pruning in spring.
For larger trees, this is best left to a professional. For smaller, reachable trees such as desert cassia doing it yourself after a bloom cycle (if it even needs it) works fine.
Tips for low-maintenance plant trimming
Use plants that rarely need shaping. Philodendron, for instance, only needs a dead or dying leaf and stem removed occasionally.
Slow growers like Japanese boxwood or podocarpus need attention less often.
Horizontal growth patterns means plants such as junipers grow outward, rather than up.
Look for self-cleaning palms such as foxtail and adonidia (Christmas) palm.
Space plants so they have room to fill out, rather than competing and reaching for light.
Bush daisy - pictured above - is one plant that will live a longer, healthier life by cutting it back a bit every few months.
Mexican heather also needs an occasional trim to keep it healthy and full.
Lantana, especially the older cultivars, get leggy after a while. Even though they may be full of blooms, cut them back to encourage bushiness and new growth.
The article reads to prune in late winter or early spring. I live in northern California so want to be precise in knowing when to trim back my in-ground lantanas. What months are considered late winter, early spring? We’ve already had a frost and some things I’ve read said to prune them. Other sites say leave it uncovered and prune in late winter but give no months as to what late winter is… so I’m confused as to what to do. We don’t get snow but we do get frost and cold, and hopefully, this winter we’ll be getting rain.
Also, I have two lantana that are in oak barrels. The ones in the ground have been affected by the frost and ready to sleep, but the ones in the barrels aren’t affected. Does that mean I shouldn’t prune them in late winter or shouldn’t prune them unless their leaves die and they go to sleep too? They are out in the elements not far from the in-ground ones. They aren’t covered by overhang or anything.
Santa Rosa, CA
In early spring you can cut back the entire Lantana plant to about 6 to 12 inches in height if the plant needs an entire trim up.
You can also just trim 1/3 of the oldest and tallest stems each early spring.
In mid-spring and summer you can pinch back the growing tips of the plant to encourage a fuller plant and more flowering points.
Pinching back several times in the summer can be done to continue to encourage a fuller plant, but will delay some flowers.
In the fall dead head the spent flowers and trim back and dead branches.
Lantana are hardy down to only about 32 degrees F. If you temperatures are going below freezing, you will need to protect your plants.
March 20 is the first day of spring. You could prune your plants the month before, but weather trends can play a part in gardening. You can adjust your schedule if the weather is warmer or colder.
Pruning should be done before the plants start to leaf out.