Sterile Lantana Cultivars: a Good Idea for NC?

— Written By Thomas Glasgow and last updated by
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On a recent visit to Garden City, South Carolina I noticed several plants of Lantana camara populating the flat sandy area in between the dunes and the building we were staying at. I was reminded that in Florida this non-native lantana is
considered invasive, and is listed as a Category I invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. Moving northwards, Lantana camara is a Category 3 plant on the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council’s Invasive Plant List, meaning an “Exotic plant that is a minor problem in Georgia natural areas, or is not yet known to be a problem in Georgia but is known to be a problem in adjacent states”. Lantana camara does not show up on any invasive plant list that I am aware of in the Carolinas. However, if we factor in expected climate change with substantial changes taking place just over the next few decades, then it’s reasonable to assume that Lantana camara could become an issue for us eventually. This is why
the sterile lantana cultivars being developed at the University of Florida may deserve a closer look even for those of us living well north of Florida.

Low growing plants in sandy soil with yellow and orange blooms.

Two orange/yellow blanket flowers (Gaillardia sp.)  can be seen near the center of the image. The yellow and pink flowers of Lantana camara are prominent in the background. Note also the large spray of dead stems to the right; this shows the spread of adjacent lantana plants by the end of last year. As of early June the clumps are actively regrowing.
Berries growing on a green plant.
Flowers, fruits, leaves and sap are toxic to people, pets and livestock.
Close-up look at a lantana stem.
Close-up of lantana stem. The short, stiff hairs (trichomes) can be quite irritating to the skin, so wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when cutting back excess lantana growth.