Author: Peter Ciepluch, Designer
By now, you probably know the benefits of shopping local and eating local, but what about planting local? We believe in using native plants whenever possible. In fact, it’s one of the things that sets us apart from other landscape design firms.
You may have never thought about it, but the plants in your neighborhood, the park across the street, and your favorite shopping center were all chosen for specific reasons. Using native plants not only reduces maintenance costs, but it also honors and celebrates local environments, as well as minimizes a project’s ecological impact.
Florida is home to a wide range of unique and interesting plant species, but recently, the buttonsage lantana or wild lantana (Lantana involucrata) has really caught our attention. After encountering it during an office trip to Bok Tower Gardens in Polk County, I immediately saw its potential and purchased several from Green Isle Gardens to plant in my yard and our studio. Since then, they’ve grown into dense shrubs around three to four feet tall and wide, thriving with full sun and no irrigation.
Wild lantana is indigenous to South Florida, but can live happily as far north as Longwood, potentially even farther, without freezing. It’s also incredibly salt and drought tolerant, meaning it can survive the harsh Florida summers and flourish in coastal areas. It can even resist hurricane-force winds, which Florida tends to see a lot of in the summer and fall months.
Along with being quite the tough cookie, wild lantana is a pollinator that attracts birds, mammals and insects all year round. Aromatic, sage-scented foliage repels pests, and colorful blooms and berries make the shrub as pretty as it is powerful.
We’re always looking for ways to benefit the environment through our designs, and the plants we choose are no exception. With the potential to thrive in the dunes and sandy soils of the South Florida coast, as well as right in our own backyard in Longwood, wild lantana has proven to be one shrub that should be making its way into our landscapes very soon.