Q: I bought a lantana plant last spring and it has grown into an unruly bush! Should I trim it back to the ground for the winter?
A: Lantana was virtually unknown in Georgia horticulture until fifteen years ago. Then Goodness Grows Nursery in Lexington GA introduced a semi-hardy variety known as “Miss Huff” and the plant exploded in popularity. There are several popular varieties, including ‘New Gold’, ‘Athens Rose’ and ‘Confetti’. Only ‘Miss Huff’ survives winter in Atlanta. If your lantana has multi-colored pink and yellow flowers, it is probably ‘Miss Huff’.
There are two schools of thought on winter lantana care: some folks believe in cutting the plant to twelve inches tall in December and piling pine straw around the crown. Others passionately believe that the plant must be left untouched until it sprouts new growth in spring.
I fall into the first group because brown lantana stems are so ugly in winter. I’m careful to mound straw around the plant but not over it, so as to keep the stems dry. Nature, though, might bring unexpected cold temperatures this winter, meaning that even ‘Miss Huff’ will be compost by spring!