We have had a few light frosts here in Northern Virginia, the temperatures have dipped down into the thirties and the leaves are falling off the trees. At our local Alexandria library, the lantana plants in the containers are still blooming. Lantana is a tender perennial that reminds me of my childhood in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There it grew wild, all year long, in the tropical climate. Here in zone 7, it is grown as an annual and the commonly used species Lantana camara is used as a full sun, drought resistant, butterfly magnet. This is the species the library has and although these particular flowers are dark red, the Lantana camara flower colors range from yellow to orange to red. A few years ago, Adrian Higgins wrote about another Lantana species he saw at Green Spring Gardens in his weekly Washington Post column. I had not heard of it before so naturally I drove to Green Spring Gardens to check it out. Lantana trifolia aka popcorn lantana has purple flowers that produce a string of small purple fruits, resembling a small ear of corn. The purple fruit is much more noticeable than Lantana camara, which tends to be small green balls. It too is a tender perennial but not commonly grown in this area. Seeing the library’s lantana plant still blooming on November 15 (Garden Bloggers Bloom Day) reminds me to put both Lantana camara and Lantana trifolia on my 2015 Garden Wish List.
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