Planting and Care of Canna

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Cannas are very dependable. They are easy to plant and easy to grow. They offer showy, tropical color from early summer until frost.

PLANTING: Cannas are planted in the spring after danger from hard frost. Before planting, soil can be amended with compost, manure and a high nitrogen fertilizer. Plant in a loose, fertile and well-draining soil that has warmed to at least 60 degrees. They love full sun and require a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight per day.

Plant the rhizomes 12 to 18 inches apart. Lay the long part of the rhizome horizontal to the earth’s surface with the eye up. This is not critical, as cannas will grow no matter which direction they are planted. Cover with no more than 2 inches of soil.

WATERING AND FERTILIZATION: Water your cannas once a week by slowly soaking the area around the roots. Apply a high nitrogen, foliar fertilizer twice a month, as they are heavy feeders. Canna will continue to bloom if not dead-headed, but cutting off spent flowers and seed pods will encourage the growth of more flowers. It also gives them a neater appearance.

Most insects do not bother canna.  If Japanese Beetles become a problem, hand pick them off and put them in a large glass of soapy water.  Do this consistently and the beetles will stop being a problem.

 

OVERWINTERING: Cannas will multiply, producing 3 to 5 new rhizomes for each one planted. Dig clumps of bulbs in the late fall or after the first frost. Canna will not survive in the ground in the cold north.

A common mistake is allowing the rhizomes to dry out too much while in storage. Here are 2 methods for storing

your cannas:

1. Remove old stalks and leave bulbs in clumps with the soil intact. Pile the clumps and cover with plastic and store in a basement, cellar, cool corner of a garage, crawl space, etc. Don’t store them in mesh bags as this will allow them to become too dry.

2. Rhizomes can be washed, divided, dried and layered with peat moss in cardboard boxes with lids or in plastic bags, with a few air holes to prevent drying out. Store in a basement or other cool place as in tip#1. Never allow the rhizomes to freeze during storage. The ideal storage temperature is 50 degrees.