Invasion of the Landscape Snatchers: Lantana (Lantana camara)
Lantana is an unbelievably common landscape plant, although, not all are invasive species. There are native and sterile non-native lantanas available at landscape nurseries. The non-native invasive Lantana (Lantana camara/strigocamara) is usually most recognized by its clusters of bright orange, red, and yellow flower clusters. Many of the invasive lantanas end up within the environment or disrupting agriculture production. Sterile varieties can easily be found, but if you ever notice a Lantana camara produces tiny, black seeds, it should be removed immediately. The sterile varieties will not produce the seeds. To be safe, look for our native Lantanas, L. involucrata and L. depressa. The native Lantanas create beautiful plants for your landscape that attract many different pollinators.
Prevent seed production from any Lantana camara within the landscape. Many non-sterile camaras develop seeds shortly after flowering. Collection and removal of seeds help reduce the spread of the landscape invasive. Of course, if it is a native variety, collect and disperse seeds.
Lantanas quickly invade recently disturbed landscapes and appear rather quickly in agriculture settings. Regularly scouting areas to help prevent invasion of Lantana will be necessary, especially if it’s an area that has recently been disturbed. Removing seeds will help, but scouting and removal of plants will reduce the likelihood of large areas being overwhelmed by this nasty invasive plant.
Hand removal of invasive Lantanas is easy to do. Digging up and removing parts of the plant will help reduce its spread – especially if it is done before the plant creates seeds. In large areas, burning can help reduce the spread of Lantana.
Some biological control methods showed promising effects on control. Specific insect species, including a caterpillar, seed-destroying fly, and lace bug has shown promising controls. Although, none are commercially available and still being studied.
Simply spraying lantana with herbicides is not an effective treatment. Mowing or cutting lantanas and quickly applying herbicides, like Fluroxypyr or imazapyr, is the most effective chemical control method. This is the only preferred control method when preventative, cultural, or mechanical controls are ineffective.
Lantana camaras spreads aggressively across the landscape. Therefore, if you or someone you know is having issues managing this invasive or any other invasive plants within your landscapes, reach out to your county extension office for more information. The invasion of the landscape snatchers has begun, but we can stop it!
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