How to Make Lantana Bushy

The Lantana is a fragrant, flowering plant that typically grows in tight and upright shrubs. There are some cases that can keep it from looking this way, though. Hence, in this article, we are going to share with you the different methods one how to make lantana bushy and beautiful.

We understand why some gardeners prefer only edible plants. We get it. Whether it’s fruit-bearing or not, there is a profound sense of satisfaction when you actually taste the fruits of your efforts. However, we also ask you to never underestimate the benefits that flowering plants provide. For instance, the joy, beauty, and pollinators that our lantana plants give to our garden are priceless.

Aside from that, we are also going to answer the most common questions that fellow plant lovers ask us on lantana care. Excited? Then let’s get started!

The Lantana Plant: Overview

When plant lovers talk about lantanas, most of them are usually talking about Lantana camara, or common lantana. It is a flowering shrub that can grow as high as 10 feet tall. It is fast-growing, beginner-friendly, and comes in a wide variety of stunning color combinations in pinks, yellows, reds, and purples. They can even come in bright hues or in lighter, softer shades. 

To make the lantana even a more valued addition to any garden, it doesn’t just have sweet-smelling flowers but its rough and oval leaves tend to be quite aromatic as well. Indeed, we have probably made clear by now that we love the lantanas in our plant collection.

Don’t get us wrong, though. Even if the lantana is considered fast-growing, it will still require some effort to keep it thick, flowering, and bushy. In fact, it is precisely because of this pace of growth that makes a lantana bush look leggy and sparse at times.

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Understanding Lantana Legginess

The most common issue that can make a lantana plant look less like a compact shrub and more like a wild, viny outgrowth with a few flowering stems, is legginess. It is a problem that’s not limited to just lantanas. Other plants can experience it too. 

There was even a moment back when we were just starting out our gardening journey when a lot of our succulents grew leggy and stretched out. We didn’t even have any idea back then that it was possible for our echeveria could grow that way.

Our experience has taught us first-hand that legginess usually happens when plants are starved for light. The scientific term is etiolation and in a nutshell, it is a plant’s natural survival instinct to grow towards the nearest light source.

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Other Lantana Issues

Some gardeners claim that giving a lantana plant too much nitrogen-rich fertilizer can lead to legginess and overgrowth. 

First, it makes sense. After all, nitrogen does encourage more leaf growth. However, in our experience, it still depends upon the plant’s current lighting conditions.

In our experiments, our well-lighted lantanas didn’t get leggy even with nitrogen fertilizing. On the other hand, our shaded plants that got the same feeding did grow leggier (if only a bit slightly) than shaded plants that didn’t get their nitrogen dose. 

Aside from legginess, other issues that lantana growers also commonly complain about are having 1) longer non-flowering periods and; 2) having rotting lantana crowns.

Lantanas usually bloom for eight months a year, depending on where you live. Meanwhile, rotting lantana crowns are caused by all the extra moisture during the wintertime.

The good news is, whether you want to prevent legginess and keep your lantana bushy, achieve longer blooming periods, or even prevent rotting, they will all have the same solution: you just need to prune your lantana diligently. 

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How to Make Lantana Bushy

There are two types of lantana pruning: regular and seasonal. 

Regular pruning involves lightly trimming your lantana tips throughout the year. Cut them back about one to three inches and you’ll be fine. This will help prevent overgrowth and keep your plant looking beautiful by trimming faded blooms. In addition, this will also help your plant focus more effort on growing more flowers and thicker foliage. 

Meanwhile, we recommend performing a seasonal pruning session in the late winter or early spring. This is the lantana’s active season, making it a perfect time to remove any old or deceased growth and prepare for another year of blooming.

If you want to increase the number of your blooms and make your plant look even bushier, then we recommend giving it some light fertilizer for that much-needed boost in nutrients, especially after an intense pruning session. 

You can prune up to a third of your lantana’s current height, or at most, until it’s roughly about a foot high. We’ve found that trimming it further can make the regrowth process significantly slower. 

That said, you wouldn’t want to trim it just before winter since it will make it weaker during this crucial period and even make it more susceptible to rotting.

So you see, it’s not really that difficult to keep your lantanas blooming, bushy, and happy. It only needs diligence in pruning.

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How To Make Lantana Bushy: FAQs

Now that we have shared with you the tips on how to deal with a leggy lantana and make it more compact and bushy, allow us to answer other related questions for further information:

How do you keep lantana bushy?

The key trick lies in proper pruning. Check out the tips we have shared above for more info.

How do you make lantana spread?

The best way to make your lantana spread is to just give it the best growing conditions possible. The lantana is a very invasive species so it naturally spreads on its own when allowed to do so.

How do you make lantana bloom more?

Light pruning throughout its growing season along with diligent deadheading is an efficient way to encourage lantana blooming.

Keeping a Bushy Lantana

Caring for lantana shouldn’t be a struggle. The secret in keeping your lantana plant bushy lies in pruning. By lightly pruning your plant regularly and giving it one major “hair cut” in the early spring, you will be able to ensure that your lantana will keep on blooming while still keeping its compact form. Happy gardening!