The Q&A Archives: Radiation Lantana Seed collecting

Question: I bought some radiation lantana's and absolutely love them. But here in Illinois the weather is going to turn quick and I don't believe they will make it through the winter. I would bring them in my house but I have cats and a dog that would try to get at them and I know that they are poisonous and have no place with enough light. Is there any other way to keep them safe through the winter? And if not how would I collect the seeds off of them so I can plant them again next year?

Answer: Lantana doesn't make a very successful houseplant but you may be able to overwinter the plant in an unheated garage or basement. There's no guarantee, but you can certainly try - and you have nothing to lose because the plant will surely die if left out in the garden this winter.

Although it flourishes in climates where winter frost is unusual, it does come back after frost has killed the tops if the roots are kept above freezing. So, give this a try: if your lantana is planted in the ground, pot it up now. If it's already in a pot, leave it outdoors until the nighttime temperatures reach 40F. This will help signal the plant to go into dormancy. As the leaves begin to fall from the stems, take the plant into an unheated garage or basement. Keep the soil on the dry side (you don't want to encourage the plant to grow, only to survive) and provide only minimal light. With any luck it will rest for the winter months and in spring it should wake up again. As the weather warms outdoors, cut your lantana back, begin watering regularly, and provide bright light. Hopefully, you'll see new growth.

In the meantime, you can collect seeds as they ripen on the plant. Look for clusters of black berries and allow them to remain on the plant until they just begin to look wrinkled. Harvest the berries, spread them out so they can dry, then store them until next spring.

Best wishes with your lantana!

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