GROWING CANNAS

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BRINGING THE TROPICS HOME …

Cannas are dependable and showy in hot, sunny spots.  They are easy to plant and easy to grow and have been popular for decades.  They make attractive, fast-growing screens and are excellent around water. They also make spectacular vertical accents in large planters. Hummingbirds love them – even the yellow ones will attract hummingbirds.

  • PLANTING: Plants rhizomes (roots) directly into the garden after danger of hard frost is past (May 1 or later in zone 5), or start in pots indoors and transplant outdoors when the soil is warm.  Once they begin flowering, cannas will bloom until frost. Best results are achieved in a loose, fertile, well-drained soil; add peat or compost to loosen heavy soils.  Cannas tolerate most growing conditions.  Starting them indoors will speed up blooming time; planting outdoors too early will delay flowering and possibly rot the rhizomes.

    • Plant roots 12”-18” apart and 3”-4” deep. Deeper planting will not significantly increase hardiness, but it will delay flowering!  Lay the long part of the root horizontally, with the eyes up if they are visible.  (Roots should have 3-5 eyes; the more eyes – the more flower stems!) Cannas will grow no matter how they are planted.

    • Water roots weekly as needed; soak the soil.  Fertilize with a soluble fertilizer when planting roots, again when sprouts break through the soil surface, and every 2 weeks thereafter.

  • MAINTENANCE: Most insects don't bother cannas.  Watch for Japanese beetles, especially on yellow and orange varieties.  A systemic insecticide works well, or tap the beetles into a bucket of soapy water early in the day when they are lethargic.  Trim off spent flowers and seed pods to improve appearance; cannas will continue to bloom until frost whether dead-headed or not.

  • WINTER CARE: In Indiana, cannas should be dug and brought indoors for guaranteed overwintering.  In a protected spot, they will occasionally overwinter in the ground.  The roots will multiply during the summer; in the fall you will find 3-5 roots for each one planted.  Dig the clumps after frost kills back the top foliage, before the ground freezes.

    • Trim the foliage off and store in clumps with soil intact, covered lightly with plastic.  Do not store in mesh bags; roots will dry out.  Keep cool but not allowed to freeze.  Or – wash, divide, dry and layer roots in boxes with peat moss or vermiculite.  Roots which get too dry will shrivel; roots which freeze will turn mushy.  Replant only those roots which are firm and heavy for their size. 

Typical Canna Rhizomes We Carry And/Or Can Special Order:

  • Chinese Coral  – 2’ to 3’; soft coral blooms and dark green foliage. 

  • Black Knight – 4’; large, bright red blooms and bronze foliage.  Clusters of flowers, with tapered petals.  Good for water gardens. 

  • The President  – 3’ to 4’; large, brilliant red blooms and dark green foliage.

  • Richard Wallace – 6’; canary yellow clusters of blooms; bright green foliage.  Perfect backdrop for shorter cannas. 

  • Striped Beauty  – 3’-4’; Butter yellow flowers have thin white stripes on the petals; Green leaves are also pinstriped with white stripes.

  • Pretoria/Bengal Tiger  – 4’-5’; Red-orange flowers are showy accents for the foliage, which is striped green/cream/yellow.

  • Musifolia – 6’-8; Heirloom variety with small, late clusters of red blooms; huge leaves resemble those of banana plants! Dark green with burgundy veining/marking. This variety is grown primarily for the leaves.