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Growing Canna Flowers

Canna: Tropical, Showy Blooms

by Frances Santos

Canna FlowersIf you love to grow tropical flowering plants and your region enjoys a cool climate then Canna is a perfect match for you. Canna has showy blooms and large, paddle-like foliage. Its flowers come in shades and nice blends of yellow, pink, orange, white, scarlet and red.

Many gardeners grow Canna for its foliage alone as these lush leaves that resemble banana leaves are available in bold shades of blue-green, green, purple, brown or gray with striped and/or streaked variegated patterns.

Canna is native to tropic regions of Asia and America. It belongs to Cannaceae family, and is often called “Indian Shot”. Cannas can be classified in two groups, the Species Canna and the Hybrids.

Theoretically, Species Canna are the naturally-occurring varieties while the Hybrids are those that have been modified genetically. Today, the selections of Canna hybrids are so vast that Cannas become quite difficult to categorize. However, the well known varieties are Canna “Lucifer”, Canna “The President” and Canna “Pretoria”.

Use Cannas as beautiful contrast for bedding displays and shrubbery borders! They also beautify tubs and can actually be showcased as a gorgeous focal point in your garden, especially when planted in clusters. You can place mass plantings with uniform colors against the wall or at the waterside. Take note though that Cannas will not make a good cut flower because they have poor vase life.

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Canna Propagation

Cannas provide a packet of seeds that you can even collect a lifetime supply with! Because of this, many gardeners prefer to propagate Canna from seeds. However, the other two methods of propagation such as a dormant rhizome and a growing plant can also be done.

Since selecting and planting Canna rhizomes is trickier than growing Cannas from seeds, let’s discuss the important steps on how to propagate Canna by rhizome/flower bulbs.

Keep in mind that Cannas will not survive frost and are susceptible to frost damage, so propagate Cannas after the danger of frost has passed. Now, when selecting rhizome, choose one with sturdy and healthy shoot with numerous thick roots. Scout out a sunny location with well-draining, sandy loam soil as water logging problems may cause damage to the rhizome.

Dig up the planting site to about 45 cm deep and leave it to dry in the sun for 7 days. Spread organic matter such as well rotten farm yard manure on the soil surface to make it rich and fertile. Level the planting site, then plant the rhizomes. Proper spacing such as 45 to 50 cm apart for dwarf varieties and 70 cm apart for tall varieties must be observed. Apply a handful of bonemeal for each plant and then water thoroughly right after planting.

How to Grow Canna

Always keep the rhizomes moist but avoid overwatering. This may cause root rotting, and when your Cannas have grown, water stress will also cause cracking and tearing of the leaves. It is better to water them at long intervals than frequent light watering.

Cannas love pampering! Feed them with fertilizer in early spring and mid-summer. After the first flush of blooming, apply mulch over the bed together with manure or leaf mould. Deadheading must be regularly done for continual blooming. Remove spent blooms, or better yet, cut down spent stalks to ground level. If the leaves are damaged by frost, remove them too. Do regular weeding and hoeing to promote healthier plants and optimum flowering.

So how do you maintain your Cannas? After frost, dig the plants while leaving the soil attached to the rhizomes. Allow the rhizomes to dry then store in plastic bag with a bit of moisture. Keep the dried rhizomes in cool location for the winter. However, if your cannas are potted, simply move the pots indoors and treat them as houseplants.

Canna Diseases

Generally, Cannas are not prone to fungal diseases. However, be wary of the viral disease called Canna Virus that distorts the foliage and causes discoloration. If your Canna plant is infected, throw it away and do not compost it. Take note that aphids can quickly spread the virus, infecting other healthy plants.