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Sunday, July 26, 2015

What to Do about Leggy Lantana

Q. Would you have any advice for me concerning my Lantanas?  They are sure leggy while the ones I see out on the highways are very thick.  Could it be lack of fertilizer or water?  I do give them a lot of water.  Also, my friend's have half the plant's leaves green and beautiful but about a third are yellow? This heat seems to make it difficult to keep things alive. 

A. There are several things that complicate my response to you. It may or may not be simply a question of water. The factors you should consider which can cause plants to be leggy or the amount of full sun they receive, the variety of lantana planted, water and fertilizer.

The two driving factors here are sunlight and the variety. If these plants are receiving different amounts of sunlight it will cause one to be leggy over another one. If they are different varieties, one may be leggy over another. If we put lantana in a semi-shaded area and give it a lot of nitrogen fertilizer and water, it will become leggy compared to the same plants grown in full sun and receiving the same fertilizer and the same water.

When we grow plants in semi shade they will require less water and fertilizer than plants growing in full sun. They may grow fast in semi shade if fertilized with nitrogen fertilizers and given plenty of water but the distances between their leaves will be much greater, the leaves will be larger and thinner. They will also tend to lose their older leaves. Leaves attached to older parts of stems will turn yellow and fall from them.
Herbs getting leggy because of too much shade and not enough water

Plants grown in full sun tend to be more compact with shorter distances between leaves, smaller and thicker leaves and dark green if they are receiving enough nitrogen fertilizer. When nitrogen fertilizer in the soil is running low, leaf color will change to a lighter green and the older leaves will begin to yellow and may drop from the stems.

What to do? You can manage these plants with some pruning and the type of fertilizer you are applying. Plants growing in full sun should receive the most fertilizer. Plants growing in semi shade should receive half the amount of those growing in full sun.

Shift your fertilizer from a high nitrogen to a low nitrogen high phosphorus fertilizer. Fertilizers that are labeled for roses or tomatoes should be lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus and you could use these. 

Remove the long leggy stems with a sharp pruning shears all the way to the base leaving about 1 inch of stem remaining for regrowth. If removing these long stems are not aesthetically pleasing, select two or three of the longest ones and cut them back first. In two or three weeks when new growth is occurring start removing a few more until you get the look you want.

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