Canna Care

I love Canna Lilies!  Their big vibrant colorful foliage and flowers are a must for any tropical garden, and they look stunning in a mixed perennial border for their lushness and punctuated bold texture.  This past summer, I had five varieties all blooming at the same time; it was exciting...:)

Canna Tropicana - Dramatic Deep Red/Black Foliage! Photo by Holly Stickley

Canna Tropicana - Dramatic Deep Red/Black Foliage!
Photo by Holly Stickley

It is now Fall here in the Pacific Northwest (zones 7-8),  and care must be taken to overwinter cannas.  There are a couple of ways to do this; either lift the rhizomes and store, or protect from frost and rot while still in the ground.

I have been successful with both methods, although when I've left them in the ground with a protective covering of mulch, I tend to lose one or two each time to rot;  my soil tends to be heavy, even though I compost twice a year.  I think the cannas also take a bit longer to sprout when left in the ground.

But, this year, I'm going to use both methods.  Some varieties I'm going to cover with an organic mulch and take my chances on losing some rhizomes; other varieties I'm going to lift and store.  When the weather warms, I'm going to mix a couple of canna varieties together and relocate to different areas of my garden.  I love a new garden surprise every season!

If you want to leave your canna rhizomes in the ground, cover with a thick layer of organic mulch like garden compost or straw, and especially if planted near the foundation of the house, the rhizomes should overwinter successfully.  But, if you want to lift them, here's how to do it:

After frost has killed back the foliage, dig up the entire root mass and leave as much soil around the roots as possible.  The soil should be moist, but not wet.  If too wet, let air out, but not totally dry out.  Put the whole clump inside a large plastic bag.  Cover any bare roots or rhizomes with damp peat moss, tucking in here and there.  Close the bag up loosely and store in a cool, dark, frost-free place, temperature ideally between 45-55 degrees with humidity around 75-90 percent.

In the spring, when the clumps start to sprout and when the weather is frost free, this is your sign to plant.  Use a sharp knife to cut apart individual rhizomes, each containing a good bit of rootstock and one eye (growing point).  Loosen your garden soil to a depth of approximately 12-15 inches and amend with a layer of compost approximately 2-4 inches deep.  Dig a 2-3 inch hole and place a single rhizome horizontally in the hole with the eye facing up.  Cover the holes and rhizomes with soil.  Press the soil down firmly and water.  Add a layer of mulch over the flowerbed to help retain moisture.

Throughout the growing season, keep your cannas well watered, and they love at least 5 hours of sunlight.  For optimum blooming, feed with a fertilizer rich in nitrogen about once a month, and don't forget to protect from slugs with an organic slug bait.  I like to use Sluggo Plus.  I'm also diligent in picking off the dead flower petals; I hate the dead brown look...:)  After each flower head has finished blooming, cut the stalk to the next leaf structure and your canna will rebloom!  Fresh and beautiful cannas all season long... Enjoy, and as always love hearing from you! 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop me a line in the comment box below.  Click the rectangle icon and give it a little time, the computer has to think...:)

Till the next time...

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear

Canna Tropicana, Garden Poolside Terrace at Tu Tu Tun Lodge on the Rogue River, Gold Beach Oregon Photo: StickleyCreative

Canna Tropicana, Garden Poolside Terrace at Tu Tu Tun Lodge on the Rogue River, Gold Beach Oregon
Photo: StickleyCreative