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Lantana plants of the invasive species are well known in many areas and can negatively dominate wild places by overtaking native plants. Though not all are invasive, many people still wonder how detrimental Lantana plants can become and if they’re something to worry about?
Lantana camara is an invasive species of the genus Lantana. Not all Lantana plants are invasive, but the species of Lantana known as Lantana camara is highly invasive. This plant can get entirely out of control, especially in larger areas, but it can be simple to remove in smaller gardens.
This article will tell you how invasive Lantana plants can be and how they affect other plants and even animals. By the end, you will understand how to combat invasiveness, control the plant, and manage spread and remove it altogether (source).
How Can You Tell if Lantana Is Invasive?
One prominent problem people run into is buying invasive Lantana, the most common type being Lantana camara. Unfortunately, large stores with a gardening section primarily sell Lantana camara, and many will plant these in their garden without knowing the level of invasiveness they cause.
Therefore, the critical thing to understand is how to tell what an invasive Lantana plant looks like.
To tell if a Lantana is invasive, look for flowers that alternate in colors going from one color to another in the same flower. Also, check the stems, which will be very noticeable and woody in invasive species of Lantana plants. Finally, invasive species of Lantana have flat leaves.
Also, plants with purple flowers are another invasive species known as Lantana montevidensis and should be avoided just as much as the more common Lantana camara.
Non-invasive Lantana plants have flowers with one solid uniform color throughout the flower. In addition, you’ll see more curled leaves on non-invasive species.
Here’s an excellent YouTube video detailing how to identify native vs invasive Lantana:
Does Lantana Spread?
Lantana camara is extraordinarily invasive and will spread to take over disturbed areas of land very quickly. However, both forms of Lantana (invasive and non-invasive) are spread naturally by animals eating the berries and seed.
Seeds are not the only route that Lantana camara will use to spread. Lantana loves to spread through soil that isn’t already well-rooted with other plants. Parts of the Lantana camara plant, such as the stems, will come into contact with the ground and sprout an entirely new plant there.
Even small pieces of Lantana camara plants that have broken off the original plant may regrow when they fall into new areas.
Still, Lantana camara spread much more quickly by the massive seed production they are associated with.
In contrast, non-invasive forms of Lantana plants are not known to spread any more than most plants you find in your garden (source).
Dangers of Invasive Lantana
Lantana camara is not only invasive and can take over gardens, wild areas, and economic production; it is also a dangerous plant to animals and even children.
Invasive Lantana produces berries just as any other Lantana plant, which are attractive and appear edible to the untrained eye. However, Lantana camara berries, especially when not fully ripe, are very poisonous.
Cattle have been widely affected by eating these berries, which will make them sick and eventually kill them. Even cattle that don’t eat enough to be fatal are usually unfit for farming after eating the berries due to health concerns.
Small children have also been known to find and eat the berries of the Lantana camara plant and experience severe symptoms and sometimes even death.
How Deep Are Lantana Roots?
Lantana camara plants, as well as other invasive forms of Lantana, are known for having a deep root system that overtakes viable soil and doesn’t allow for the growth of other nearby plants. The roots of the Lantana plant grow deep and wide and require very little water because of this.
These plants survive very well in adverse conditions over other plants, which adds to their invasive qualities. In frost-free regions Lantana and particularly Lantana camara survive almost anything (source).
How Do You Stop Lantana From Spreading?
Lantana plants take a firm root very quickly, which means if you find or accidentally plant an invasive form of Lantana plants, the best thing to do is remove it soon before the problem worsens.
To stop Lantana from spreading, plant in open areas of soil without roots established by other plants. If you didn’t plant it, the best way to stop the spread is to catch it before the flowers are fully open and carefully remove the bud before it releases its seeds.
At this time, the Lantana plants should not have too deep or extensive roots yet and can be pulled up and removed. However, make sure to remove the flower head with the seeds first to prevent losing any seeds to the soil and accidentally replanting it.
If you find Lantana camara in a more open area or near plants that aren’t thriving, it is vital to remove it as soon as possible because this is the type of area it will spread fastest.
In some cases, you may have to use a stump killer type of chemical. If you have a large area where Lantana camara has spread and taken over, removing all the roots and stems by hand can be too much of a challenge. It’s best to remove all the flowers with their seeds right away and then apply a stump killer to what’s left (source).
Luckily, not all Lantana plants are invasive because they can be a beautiful plant species. Even invasive forms have stunning colors, which is why it’s continuously sold as a plant to gardeners despite its intrusive qualities.
Now you know how to check your Lantana to see whether it’s invasive or not, and you know why it’s essential to stay away from Lantana camara specifically.
However, suppose you do have Lantana camara in your garden or landscaping. In that case, you can identify it and work to remove it before it causes any further issues to have a healthy, thriving garden.