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Canna Planting Guide

Cannas are spectacular tropical and subtropical flowering plants flaunting vibrant blooms and banana-like leaves. Their bright, showy flowers often appear in shades of red, orange, yellow, or any combination of those colors. Excellent in borders, raised beds, and patio pots, Cannas are pretty easy to grow given plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil. Learn more about growing and caring for these large plants with our planting guide below!

Success Snapshot

PLANTING
DEPTH

4-6"

WATER
QUANTITY

Moderate

SUNLIGHT
QUANTITY

Full to Partial Sun

PLANTING
PROXIMITY

18-24" Apart

BLOOM
SEASON

Summer

HARDINESS
ZONES

Zones 8-11

Where to Plant

Cannas are statuesque plants with enormous leaves and flowers that follow suit. Site these horticultural Titans where they'll have room to grow, such as along property lines, foundations, or at the edges of ponds. They're also excellent in borders, raised beds, and large patio pots. Give them a spot where the soil drains well, and they'll receive full to partial sun.


When to Plant

Plant your Canna Lily rhizomes outdoors from late spring to early summer after the danger of frost has passed. They can also be started indoors in pots as early as a month before the average last frost date for those with shorter growing seasons.


How to Plant

  • Choose a location where the soil drains well, and your Cannas will receive full sun for the best performance. If water puddles remain 5–6 hours after a hard rain in your outdoor planting spot, scout out another site or amend the soil with organic material to improve the drainage.
  • Fill containers, if using, with good quality, well-drained soil. Almost any commercially available potting medium will work fine.
  • Dig holes and plant your rhizomes 4–6" deep and 2' apart for tall varieties or 1' apart for the medium to dwarf types. Place the rhizomes with the eyes, or growing points, facing up.
  • Water after planting to gently soak the soil and settle it around the rhizomes.

How to Grow

  • Water your Cannas enough to keep the soil slightly damp but never soggy.
  • Leave the foliage in place at the end of the blooming season rather than trim it off. The leaves will gather sunlight to create food through photosynthesis, strengthening the bulbs for the future. You can remove the foliage when the leaves turn yellow and die back.
  • Dig up Canna rhizomes after the first frost if you live in a region colder than zone 8 and want to save them for next year. Let the rhizomes air dry for several days before placing them in a cool location surrounded by peat moss. While this method isn't always successful, it's worth a try for adventurous gardeners!
  • Feel free to cut Canna Lily flowers for bouquets when in bloom. If you prefer the foliage over the flowers, go ahead and snip all the flowers off—this is a fine way to prune the plants.
  • Give your Cannas time to rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle in spring.

Canna Tips & Tricks

  • Expect hummingbirds and other busy pollinators to visit your Canna Lilies in droves while in bloom!
  • Bear in mind that the more sunlight they get, the better the foliage, colors, and bloom production will be!
  • Amend soil with organic material to raise the level 2–3" and improve drainage. Compost, ground bark, or composted manure all work a charm and are widely available. Cannas thrive in soils too moist for many plants but will not survive in soggy settings.
  • Ensure there are adequate drainage holes in your containers as Canna rhizomes must never sit in waterlogged soil.
  • Wait until temperatures are warm before planting, or start your Cannas indoors in a pot. Roots and sprouts will form in a few weeks, depending on soil and air temperatures.
  • Keep in mind the mature size of the varieties you have chosen, and plan your container sizes accordingly.
  • 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.