The Q&A Archives: Lantana Tree

Question: I have, in the past, purchased tree form lantana's. They were in one gallon pots, and were between 5-6 feet in height, in the pot. I would like to purchase another, in either confetti or spreading sunshine, but my nursery thinks I have imagined ever having seen these. I guess the two I have in my backyard are figments of my imagination if I listen to the guy at the nursery.

Do you have any of these? Or, can you direct me to a grower that does them?

Answer: In mild winter climates such as yours, plants that are short-lived elsewhere can become woody perennials. Because the plant stems become stiff and woody with age, they make perfect specimens for training into tree shapes. Lantana, fuchsia, marguerite daisy and geraniums are all good candidates for this training process. It's a labor-intensive process, however, and the resulting trees are usually considered novelties. They're not always readily available, as you have discovered. The good news is that you can grow your own. Here's how: remove all but one healthy stem from your plant, then carefully coax it upright and tie it to a tall support. Leave the foliage on the top of the plant but cut out all other stems and rub off any buds that sprout along the stem below the topknot of foliage. As the stem grows taller, continue to tie it to the support to keep it straight. After the second growing season the stem will develop a woody look and begin to hold itself up without support. By the third growing season it will stop sprouting buds along the stem, diverting its energy to producing foliage at the top of the plant. You can keep your plant under control by frequent pinching and pruning of the top foliage. Hope you'll give this technique a try!

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