Lantana acting strange!

West Livingston, TX

My Lantana bushes (new this year) are putting out flower buds that, instead of flowering, make clusters of small leaves. I haven't taken pictures yet, but can if this turns out to be unusual. I remember this plant growing wild in an unused pasture where we kids picked dewberries. That was near Galveston, Texas in the late 50s. I didn't realize it was a subtropical when I purchased three of them this year. (I now live in Zone 9). I never looked closely at them as a kid, so I don't know whether this is normal. Anyway, at least half and possibly more than half of the buds now on the plants look like tiny chia pets. Left alone, they come out in 1 or 1 1/2 inch long clusters of small bunched leaves. I'd rather have flowers!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Your problem is new to me also, these are one of the most easiest plants to grow normally.
Is there any chance you could send in a picture of the plant and a close up of the problem.
It could be that you need soil improvement, maybe more watering required, less sun / more sun, there could be easy remedies but a picture might help eradicate some things and help with the real problem.
Best regards. WeeNel.

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

What you describe sounds like regular flower buds, very eloquent description, BTW. I think/hope they're just not to the pretty phase yet. Have you had any of the recent rain? The only other thing I can think of is if it's drought-dry, a slow, deep drink might help. Knowing it's a new plant though, you're probably coddling it. Just don't give it too much water.

It may need help settling in, then should probably never need it again unless it's completely exposed and the ground around it is bare dusty dirt. It's a plant that thrives in abandoned yards here, but I know a 3-month drought is childs' play compared to what could happen in parts of TX.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Do please post a picture. That would be very useful in trying to figure out what is happening.

West Livingston, TX

I truly appreciate the feedback. Sorry it's taken so long for me to get back to this post. Here are the photos I took this morning. I realize my last post was a little misleading. The bushes did flower wonderfully before they began this odd behavior and, as one of the pictures shows, they still have some blooms. I hope you can see the tiny green leaves on the buds that are just opening (in some cases in the center and in others beginning at the bottom outside). The pic that's all green is of the tight clusters of small leaves that result. I'm afraid I got in a little too close in some cases. A photographer I'm not! Thanks again for taking the trouble to help me find an answer to this.

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Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

This may sound a little seems that there is a tiny leaf beneath each tiny flower...I ran across this picture of an extreme close up of a bloom. The odd part is maybe your plant is a species cross that produces produces plants with exaggerated bloom leaves/calyces. I couldn't anything much in the way of fungal or viral diseases...root and crown maybe genetic???

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I looked up my old plant encyclopaedia because I only ever grow the Annual (bedding) so curiosity got the better of me.
It states that your Lantana (Short lived Perennial) needs a lot more water in the summer months than one would imagine for a tropical plant, it recommends that these plants need plenty good light, watering deeply most days and plant into humus rich soil that is well draining. Winter rest period the plants require less watering but not let the plants dry out for long periods of time. Look out for Autumn frost if that is in your area.

I think your plants are Lantana camara, origin from West Indies and will last several years. they will require a liquid feed every few weeks in summer BUT I would start with a half strength amount and see how that helps, if all OK then up the dose a few weeks later to a full strength BUT never over dose.
It also states that IF you want to keep the plants growing for a number of years they need pruning of the main shoots around February, There is no mention of the flower distortion you have so I am inclined to agree with The Moon that the plant really just needs time to settle and add more water to the roots, make sure the water penetrates the soil as in the heat it can run off IF there has been a crust formed though I notice you already have a mulch.
Was there any humus, compost, bone meal or the likes added to the soil at planting time, that may be a problem causing the blooms to be as they are, but again, I would just watch, wait till next year and IF the same flowering problem arises again, then all my advice is just rubbish Ha, ha, ha.

They look healthy, growing well and will settle down soon I'm sure. maybe after you dead head the next crop of flowers will get better after watering and feeding.
Good luck. WeeNel.

West Livingston, TX

Thanks for the posts. The plants, as you say, are healthy and thriving...just weird. I didn't mention that (not realizing these were subtropicals) I planted them on a morning that saw a freeze the same night. It was late March and even frost is unusual here at that time. It was unexpected to say the least. Anyway, every leaf turned black eventually and they had to start over from scratch. It took a good month or six weeks for them to come completely back. The first blooms didn't seem to have this problem. It started a little later. Just to clear matters up, they are planted in full sun, and I do mean full. We had a great spring with lots of rain, but are now back to temperatures pushing 100 (with humidity that makes it feel like 110 to humans). At first I watered only twice a week when the rain stopped, but now it's almost daily and I fertilize lightly about every ten days. I've already pruned them back once because they were outgrowing the bed they're in. But that was after the oddity was noticeable. I'm thinking they'll be moved this fall to a more sheltered spot with enough space to run rampant. I really need to prune them back again already! I'm posting a couple of pictures just to give more perspective of the conditions. These were taken after pruning. They are now pretty much touching one another in the bed that has two. And I never expected the Purple Verbena (one plant) to take over to the extent it has, but that's another post entirely!

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Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Hi....sorry it took so long....I have been doing some research for you....and I do not have good news. It seems that your lantanas are infected with a bacteria that is spread by a bug called a leafhopper. The disease is called Aster Yellows, and unfortunately the treatment is to pull up the plant and burn it. There is no cure for it, and keeping an infected plant can endanger your whole garden ...leafhoppers feed on the infected plant and then spread it to other plants like coneflowers, sunflowers, tomatoes, carrots, daisies, lettuce, and zinnias just to name a few.

I do wish I had better news for you. the first link has info the second is a pic from a poster in Texas with an infected lantana plant. Sorry.....Moon

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