Plants of the World Online lists 12 accepted species in the Canna genus. There is quite a bit online about the Canna but I am not going to write a lengthy page here. If you want to read more you can check out the links at the bottom of the page.
My neighbor in Mississippi had a lot of red Cannas and he called them a trash plant. I am not sure why he looked at them like that unless it is because of the way they looked after a long, hot summer… Then in the fall of 2011, a good friend and fellow plant collector, Walley Morse from Greenville, brought me several of his yellow Cannas (along with a few other plants). I forgot to bring them with me when I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013.
As it turned out, dad had a few of his own Cannas. They were on the south side of the house where they received full sun. Dad told me I could do whatever I wanted here but I knew he didn’t really know what was in store. As soon as temperatures started warming up I started re-digging and making new flower beds. I completely overhauled the area along the south side of the house and amending the soil with “the good stuff” (composted cow manure where hay was fed in previous years). The major problem with the south side of the house was the two Crap Myrtle bushes. Yeah, I know I misspelled Crape Myrtle.
When fall came in 2013, he told me to cut off the Cannas and lay the stems over them. I told dad that really wasn’t a good idea and they should be mulched with leaves instead. Most people I knew who had Cannas here before had to dig the tubers and store them inside for the winter. I was surprised when I found out they actually survive the winter outside with a good mulch. With dad just using the old stems, many of the tubers rotted during the winter. So, after the Cannas being here for MANY, MANY years, the colony didn’t spread that well.
Mulching with leaves instead of the old stems helped and the clump of Cannas was bigger than in 2013. One of the biggest problems I had with the Cannas were the grasshoppers. By the end of the summer, the leaves had been chewed to pieces.
I think in the fall of 2014 or maybe the spring of 2015, I moved the Cannas to a bed I dug along the south side of the garage. They did very well, but I admit, I didn’t space them far enough apart. You can tell how they multiplied from the first photo I took of them in 2013.
LIGHT: Full sun to part shade
Height: 3-12’, depending on cultivar
WATER: Average water needs, drought tolerant once established
SOIL: Average, well-drained soil
Many websites state that Canna are hardy in USDA zones 9 and up, others say 7 or 8. I am here to verify that they survive, with mulch in zone 6a.
From the photo taken in 2013 to the one above taken in 2017, you can see how much they had multiplied. By the end of the summer, they grew to over 12′ tall. They are getting very thick so my idea was to dig a bed the entire length of the garage and give them plenty of space.
Even though I always know it will happen sooner or later, there is nothing more horrifying than a heavy frost to kill all the plants.
Spring is a very busy time of the year, and even though it was only the end of May, it was getting pretty hot during the day. The Canna bed is in full sun all day until around 6 PM but I was very determined to get this bed dug. I worked until it was almost dark every night. At first, I was going to do half of the bed at a time but I soon realized that plan wasn’t working. So, I just dug all the Cannas up…
I put them all on the north side of the garage where they were pretty much in the shade all day. MAN, that looked like a lot of plants!
Finally, on June 4, all the Cannas were spaced out along the garage. What a job! There were a lot of tubers left over that had not grown any plants. I still have no idea what I am going to do with them.
Dad had a stroke during this process on June 2. He passed away on June 5 at 87 and never got to see his red Cannas all along the side of the garage.
The Cannas were beginning to flower when the above photo was taken on June 20. Now I need to take some current photos.
Cannas have not been one of my favorite plants but they do grow on you. I do like the variegated leaves on some of the cultivars, but they are very expensive. There are many cultivars available at Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, etc. that are relatively inexpensive. There are HUNDREDS of Canna cultivars available in a wide range of heights, leaf and flower color. Plant Delights has several very interesting cultivars to make you drool. There are also websites from growers that specialize in just Cannas, such as Horn Canna Farm who have been in business since 1929
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. If you notice I made an error, please let me know.