Today let’s talk about a flowering plant that is native to the tropical Americas. The Purple Training Lantana and New Gold Lantana, or Lantana montevidensis and Lantana x ‘New Gold’ respectively, are outstanding examples of the Lantana family. The Purple Training flourishes in USDA Zones 8-10, while the New Gold does best in USDA Zones 10-11. Both of these plants like to be in full to part sun. However, full sun will result in the best blooms!

While these have some visual similarities, they also vary quite a bit. The Purple Trailing is larger in size growing to 1’-2’ tall and 3’-5’ wide. In addition, there are a few varieties that can come in under 3’ in width. The New Gold, on the other hand, grows to 1’-1.5’ tall and 1.5’-2’ tall on average.

When it comes to looks, the Purple Training brings fragrant, coarse-toothed, slightly-hairy, dark green foliage filled with year-round purple blooms. The New Gold has a showy presentation with its yellow blooms from spring through summer in most climates. In frost free regions, it can bloom all year round as well. Both of these variants attract butterflies and are deer tolerant.

And when it comes to maintenance, both are considered very easy to plant and flourish. Once established, the New Gold is heat loving and only requires occasional watering. The Purple Training is considered strong at handling coastal exposure, wind, extreme heat/drought, all soil types and Ph. Overall, it’s clear that both of these are an easy choice for adding color to your outdoors. And if you aren’t a fan of purple or yellow, have no fear. There are about 150 different species of Lantana. Needless to say, these will have you covered no matter what your favorite color may be.

© HDG Landscape Design, 2020

Pride of Barbados

Caesalpinia pulcherrima, more often known as Pride of Barbados (sometimes referred to as Bird of Paradise, although this common name belongs to another plant), is a favorite medium to large, tropical shrub for Texas landscapes.  You can expect this fast-growing plant to reach 4 to 8 feet tall and around 6 feet wide. It can grow in tree form in the tropics, reaching up to 20 feet tall. Caesalpinia pulcherrima can be treated as a perennial in zones 8 to 11 or throughout central and south Texas and needs sun to partial shade in order to bloom correctly. Pride of Barbados has fiery flowers starting in a rich red color at the base and turning bright yellow at the ruffled tips with long, showy red stamens. The flowers bloom from mid-summer to fall and can provide a welcome sight in the hottest days of Texas summers when many other plants look worn out. The foliage is most often deciduous and is a blue green color, contrasting nicely with the yellows and reds of the blooms.

Originally from Mexico and the Caribbean, this plant can provide that colorful, tropical look that many people long for. It does need hot weather to bloom, but if it freezes to the ground in a colder area it will regrow in the spring quite quickly. The flowers are followed by bean-looking pods of seeds that can be several inches long and contain acids that are poisonous, so be careful when using this plant in areas with kids and pets. Another aspect to be aware of is the spiny stems of the Pride of Barbados, and they should not be planted near patios and walkways. It can tolerate drought to an extent, but will bloom much better if watered deep but infrequently during the growing period. Pride of Barbados does self-sow its seeds so be sure to deadhead this plant if you wish to prevent volunteer seedlings from appearing the next season.

Other Cultivars:

Caesalpinia pulcherrima ‘Phoenix’ is a Pride of Barbados variation with solid bright yellow flowers and only hardy in zones 9b to 10a (Corpus Christi and along the gulf).

© HDG Landscape Design, 2020