The winters in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone 5 are too cold for any lantana plant to survive. Therefore, any species or cultivar of lantana grown in summer will be killed by frost or by the onset of anticipated temperatures well below zero by December. The best lantana for a Zone 5 garden depends solely on providing good summer growing conditions and meeting personal tastes in flower color.
The most widely grown lantana in the United States is the tropical shrub species Lantana camara. It persists as a shrub or die-back perennial only in USDA zones 8 and warmer. In Zone 5, it will always be killed by winter cold, and must be replanted again in spring after the threat of frost passes. Horticulturists bred and selected numerous cultivars of this lantana for use in gardens. These special cultivars tend to be more prolific in flower production and offer a wider array of flower colors compared to any other lantana species sold in garden centers.
There really is no best lantana for a garden in Zone 5. It all depends on growing conditions and your desired flower color. Among the newest series of cultivars of lantana include those grouping in the Bandana, Landmark, Lucky, Tropical Temptation, Patriot, Patriot Pillar and Son series. Numerous cultivars with different flower colors populate each named series. Cultivars New Gold, Miss Huff, White Gold, Anne Marie, Dallas Red, Confetti, Bonnie Bush, Mozelle and New Red are non-series selections known for profuse flowering and fast growth rates.
For the best performance of lantana during the frost-free summer growing season in Zone 5, plant them in an ideal site. Lantana plants prosper in heat and lots of sunshine. No less than six hours of sunshine daily and temperatures in the 70 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit range are ideal. Avoid wet, slow-draining soils and shady locations. Any fertile to gritty soil that is moist and well-drained suffices for healthy, robust lantana plants. Keep the soil evenly moist for best growth and blooming, but established plants with good root systems tolerate drought.
Lantana may be grown in annual flower beds, as filler plants between perennials or shrubs in a border, in containers or hanging flower baskets. Their sprawling, long stems lend themselves nicely to edges of walls and containers, or to fill a garden bed where a low groundcover is desired. Bees and butterflies are strongly lured by the nectar-rich flowers of lantana, and orange- or red-colored cultivars attract hummingbirds, too. In Zone 5, potted lantana plants may be brought indoors over winter to bloom in a warm, sunny southern window.
Jacob J. Wright
Jacob J. Wright became a full-time writer in 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. He has worked professionally at gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Wright holds a graduate diploma in environmental horticulture from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware.