Ham and Eggs In the Garden – Growing Lantana
One of my favorite perennial flowering plants is the Lantana. I like it because it is a no fuss stick it in the ground and only water it when it hasn’t rained in a while plant. Lantana is a member of the verbena plant family, verbenaceae. Originally it was native only to tropical regions in all the Americas and Africa but long introduced into other regions so people enjoy this little plant/shrub in many parts of the world.
Of course the best parts are the dainty little flower clusters which to me look like little bouquets in miniature. You’ll often see them in a mix of orange, red, and yellow, or orange, pink, and yellow, and the loveliest of all the blues and white (sometimes lavender and white). If that isn’t exciting enough as the bouquet matures the colors change. Here in the South Lantana’s are often referred to as “Ham n’Eggs in the garden,” referring to the pink and yellow coloring being so close on their plate of inflorescence.
One thing about lantana is that while the fruit is popular with birds and the flowers a big deal in the bee, bird, and butterfly world, most animals (humans, sheep, goats, pigs, and horses) shy away from them for a very good reason, the leaves are poisonous to many animals. Lantanas are a scourge to any cattleman for the same reason.
Lantanas are a must in any serious butterfly garden. In some parts of the world lantana is invasive, like many plants who find a place to thrive, not just survive. While invasive in Hawaii, keep in mind that many plants are invasive in tropical climates.
Uses For Lantanas
- While the leaves are poisonous, the lantana berries are completely edible as long as you remember that they must be fully ripe. Brown sugared dipped and chilled is my favored recipe for Lantanas. Green ones will make you sick.
- Lantana stems are great for craft projects, very similar to being as durable as working with wicker or bamboo.
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