Although traditionally tropical perennials, canna have played a large role in historical plantings throughout the United States. Often found in school yards, home gardens, and at vast homes of the rich and wealthy, they were generally planted in large groups and surrounded by smaller flowers. Today, canna can be found growing just about anywhere in the world, even at the North Pole!
When to Plant?
Despite their diverse locations, planting and care is very similar. In warmer climates, plant them outside in the early spring, after the last frost in your area. In cooler climates, if you cannot receive your plants at proper planting times, you can easily start them indoors (or in a greenhouse) and plant outside once the ground and temperatures are warm enough.
Where to Plant?
When deciding where to plant, it is important to choose a bright, sunny location with a minimum of 4-6 hours of sunlight. Also, make sure the soil in the area you selected is well draining, canna love water, but some varieties are not fond of wet feet, while others absolutely love the additional moisture. Check out our water cannas for a list of varieties that do well in extra-wet conditions.
CONTAINER: If planting in a container or large planter, simply fill 3/4 full with alternating layers of growing medium and compost. Set the rhizome horizontally (with sprouts pointing upwards) on top of soil and fill in the remaining 1/4. Water lightly with half-strength, liquid fertilizer and keep moist, but not soggy. Once new growth appears, it can be watered more heavily. Water again when soil starts to appear dry.
OUTSIDE: If planting outside, loosen the selected area and amend with a good compost. Plant rhizomes horizontally (with sprouts pointing upwards) and approximately 3 inches deep, simply set them to the soil level and firm the soil around them to hold in place. For optimal growth and surface coverage, plant rhizomes between 2-4 feet apart, depending on variety. Water with half-strength, liquid fertilizer, keeping beds moist, but not soggy. When the new growth appears the cannas can be watered more heavily and thus tolerate the heavier soil without hindering growth.
Canna are heavy feeders and perform very well when fertilized often. However, it is important to note that heavy fertilizing prior to the emergence of flower heads may result in a large amount of foliage and less flowers. Fertilize with half-strength every other week until flower heads begin to form, once bud-stems are visible, fertilizing regimes can be increased and/or strengthened.
Keeping a thick layer of mulch around your plants will help them conserve water in the hot summer months, will assist in keeping weeds down, and is a great start for overwintering in warm climates.
We will be following up with a 'over-wintering guide' for both warm and cooler climates, nearer to fall.