Exotic Foliage In The Garden

Cannas, Canna x generalis are sometimes called Canna lilies, although it is not a lily at all; it is a subtropical herbaceous plant with large banana-like leaves.

In the temperate parts of the world it is widely grown as an annual from it’s fleshy rhizomes which must be overwintered indoors. The large tropical looking foliage and exotic flowers make it a desirable addition to the garden. There are many varieties available as shown in the photo below from the Hampton Court Flower Show and some even do well as aquatic specimens.


How Do I Grow It? The rhizomes are usually started indoors in pots about a month before the frost free date when they can go outdoors. In a moist soil with lots of humus they will increase quite rapidly and grow to at least 150 cm (5 ft) tall. In the autumn the rhizomes must be dug up and stored in a warm dry location.


How Do I Overwinter Them? The large soft leaves of Cannas will indicate the arrival of the first frost by turning a nice crispy brown colour. At this point dig up the entire clump and remove all of the foliage. Remove as much soil as possible and let the clump of rhizomes dry until most of the remaining soil is easy to shake off. Separate the rhizomes by breaking or cutting the pieces at the natural junctions. Store them in barely damp peat moss at about 10C (50f) in a dry location. That’s all there is to it.

Where Do I Grow Them? Almost anywhere. Cannas will thrive in a well watered, large, container. Outdoors as highlights in an annual planting. Some varieties do well grown submerged in ponds. They have few if any problems or diseases.

canna rhizomes Their biggest problem is their tendency to be prolific. By your third year growing them you will be looking for friends to give your surplus rhizomes to.

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