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Canna Planting Guide

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Not for the Timid
Canna Lily

If surrounding yourself with bright colors makes you feel happy, if mixing electric pink tops with teal bottoms is your style, these plants are right up your alley. Canna lilies are big and bold, with leaves that fall into the "large" to "huge" range and flowers that follow suit. Site these horticultural Titans wherever moderate size shrubs would do, but would simple be too tame. . . as warm climate foundation plantings, along property lines lieu of fences and at the edges of ponds, reflected in the bright waters. Experiment with a few cannas and let your imagination go wild. Don't be timid.






Outdoor Beds
  1. Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2"-3" to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Cannas thrive in soils too moist for many plants but will not survive in soggy settings.
  2. Site your cannas where they'll receive full sun for the best foliage color and greatest number of blooms.
  3. Dig holes and plant the rhizomes 4"-6" deep and 2 feet apart for tall varieties or 1 foot apart for the medium to dwarf types. Place the rhizomes with the eyes, or growing points, facing up.
  4. After planting, water your cannas generously to settle the soil around the rhizomes. Roots and sprouts will form in a few weeks, depending on soil and air temperatures. If temperatures are still cool in your area, wait until they warm before planting. Or start your tubers indoors in a pot for earlier blooms. Cannas need heat to get them going.
  5. Water your cannas enough to keep the soil slightly damp but not enough for it to be soggy.
  6. When in bloom, feel free to cut canna lily flowers for bouquets. Some gardeners grow the varieties with deeply colored or striped leaves for the foliage only and snip off all the flowers. If you prefer this approach, go for it. The plants will be fine if pruned this way.
  7. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place, don't cut it off. The leaves gather sunlight and provide nourishment for next year's show. Water as needed. Leaves may be removed when they yellow. (In cold areas, to save your canna rhizomes for next year, dig them after the first frost. Let the rhizomes air dry for several days. Then store in a cool location in paper bags or boxes filled with peat moss. While this approach doesn't always work because holding temperatures and moisture levels for rhizomes and storage medium must be fairly exact to please these tropical plants, if you're an adventurous gardener it's worth a try.)
  8. Your cannas will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle in spring.
Planters, Pots, Tubs and Urns
  1. Fill your containers with good quality, well-drained soil. Almost any commercially available potting medium will work fine. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes; canna rhizomes not sit in waterlogged soil or they risk rotting. Keep in mind the mature size of the varieties you have chosen and plan your container sizes accordingly.
  2. Feel free to mix cannas with other plants in the same container. Just keep in mind that all must have the same light and water needs.
  3. Dig holes and plant the rhizomes 4"-6" deep and 1.5 feet apart for tall varieties or 1 foot apart for the medium to dwarf types. Place the rhizomes with the eyes, or growing points, facing up.
  4. After planting, water your cannas generously to settle the soil around the rhizomes. Roots and sprouts will form in a few weeks, depending on soil and air temperatures. If temperatures are still cool in your area, wait until they warm before planting. Or start your tubers indoors to get a jump on the season. Cannas need heat to get them going.
  5. Water your cannas enough to keep the soil slightly damp but not enough for it to be soggy.
  6. When in bloom, feel free to cut canna lily flowers for bouquets. Some gardeners grow the varieties with deeply colored or striped leaves for the foliage only and snip off all the flowers. If you prefer this approach, go for it. The plants will be fine if pruned this way.
  7. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place, don't cut it off. The leaves gather sunlight and provide nourishment for next year's show. Water as needed. Leaves may be removed when they yellow. (In cold areas, to save your canna rhizomes for next year, bring the pots indoors before the first frost. Let the soil dry out and keep the containers in a cool, but non-freezing area over the winter. While this approach doesn't always work because holding temperatures and moisture levels for rhizomes and storage medium must be fairly exact to please these tropical plants, if you're an adventurous gardener with an unused corner in your attached garage, it's worth a try.
  8. Your cannas will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle in spring.




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