Information About Cannas

Information About Cannas

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Canna Lily Rot: What Causes Rotting Canna Rhizomes

By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Canna flowers grow as a beautiful, long-lasting summer to fall display in the flower bed. In northern areas, they need to be dug and stored over winter for rhizomes to remain alive. But what happens when canna rhizomes are rotting? Learn about canna lily rot here.

Why Won’t My Cannas Bloom – What To Do When Your Canna Will Not Flower

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Whether grown permanently in the ground or dug up and replanted each season, age and other factors can reduce the vigor of canna blooms. If you are experiencing no flowers on a canna plant, this article is for you. Click here for more information.

What Is Canna Rust: Learn How To Treat Rust On Canna Leaves

By Amy Grant

As showy as they are, canna plants are susceptible to a variety of issues, one of which is rust on canna leaves. What is canna rust? Click here for information on canna rust, including canna rust symptoms and tips for treating cannas with rust.

Canna Lily Fertilization – Tips For Feeding A Canna Lily Plant

By Mary Ellen Ellis

Fertilizing canna lilies will ensure these stunners in your garden or your indoor containers will thrive and produce the most beautiful flowers and foliage. These plants love nutrients, so don?t skip this step in growing canna lilies. Learn more in this article.

Canna Mosaic Virus: Dealing With Mosaic On Canna Plants

By Liz Baessler

Cannas are beautiful, showy flowering plants. Because they're such all-around winners in the garden, it can be especially devastating to discover your cannas are infected with disease. Learn more about recognizing mosaic virus in cannas and what to do in this article.

Can I Transplant Cannas: – Learn When To Transplant Canna Lilies

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

In cool climates, canna bulbs are planted each spring, then dug up in fall, divided and stored away over winter. Even in warmer climates, cannas will need to be dug up and divided every 4-5 years. Learn about dividing and transplanting cannas in this article.

Common Pests Of Canna Lilies – Tips On Managing Canna Lily Pests

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Canna lily pests are rare, but their broad sword-like leaves are awfully attractive to a variety of leaf munchers. Click this article for some ideas on insects that attack Canna lily plants and how to recognize and defeat them.

Canna Lily Deadheading: Tips For Deadheading Canna Lily Plants

By Liz Baessler

Where other flowers shrivel and wilt, canna lilies thrive in the heat. But how do you ensure that you get the most out of your canna lilies with flowers all summer long? Click this article to learn more about how to deadhead a canna lily.

Containers For Canna Lily Plants: How To Plant Cannas In Pots

By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Cannas aren't just for gardens.Growing cannas in containers is a good way to guarantee summer blooms. Find out more about potting a canna lily and its subsequent care in the article that follows.

Canna Bulb Storage – Tips For Storing Canna Bulbs

By Heather Rhoades

Wintering canna bulbs is an excellent way to make sure that these tropical looking plants survive in your garden year after year. Storing canna bulbs is simple, and this article will show you how.

Growing Cannas is easy, your choice where to plant them

I’m thrilled growing cannas as they flower for eight to nine months of the year in my climate.

These tropical plants add some structure to my garden with great foliage colors and also have a great tolerance in the dry times.

Classic cannas are at home in cottage gardens themes and dry gardens, even though they are fairly dry tolerant the aquatic cannas are suitable for backyard ponds either planted around the edge of a pond or submerged.

There are many positions for these exotic plants, when Planting Cannas remember they are sun and heat loving plants, they can be grown in hot tropical climates and cool n temperate areas as well. Cannas grown in snow laden areas will have to be lifted out of the ground before the winter snow arrives and replanted the following season once the winter snow has passed.

Cannas in Winter visit here to learn about how frost and winter affects cannas.

Big clumps of cannas are tough water wise plants, but its wise with single small sized divisions to be careful when watering cannas not to overwater any small plants or they may rot.

Rhizome Propogation and how much growing cannas can increase.

Cannas like to be in a sunny position, although its not essential If your neighbor’s have prying eyes, then plant some tall growing canna plants along your fence line's for privacy, you can also use them to provide shade and protection for more tender perennials plants. Cannas love a sunny position the more sun the better.

Cannas need sun learn why a sunny posistion is essential.

By mass planting cannas you will get a full show of flowers and foliage which will make key areas look more exotic and tropical.

Cannas are great for planting alongside swimming pools, I’ve seen some beautiful varieties grown in this position and the odd splash of chlorine water doesn’t seem to harm them.

On a recent holiday along the coast of the Great Ocean Road I was pleasently surprised to see many home gardens with cannas in their planting schemes.

The gardens had beach road frontage and the cannas were thriving and really stood out amongst other hardy garden flowers perennials including Agapanthus and Kniphofias.

Canna Lily 'Tropicanna'

Family: Cannaceae (kan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Canna (KAN-uh) (Info)
Species: x generalis (jen-er-RAY-liss) (Info)
Cultivar: Tropicanna
Additional cultivar information:(PP10569 Tropicanna™ series, aka Phaison, Orange Durban, Tropicanna®)
Hybridized by Potgieter
Registered or introduced: 1998
» View all varieties of Cannas


Tropicals and Tender Perennials




USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:


Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Foliage Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil do not let dry out between waterings

Where to Grow:


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Scottsdale, Arizona(2 reports)

Manhattan Beach, California

Vista, California(9 reports)

Granby, Connecticut(2 reports)

Pass Christian, Mississippi

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Jacksonville, North Carolina

Elk City, Oklahoma(2 reports)

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma(2 reports)

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Fort Worth, Texas(2 reports)

San Antonio, Texas(3 reports)

Kirkland, Washington(2 reports)

North Marysville, Washington

Stimson Crossing, Washington

Milwaukee, Wisconsin(2 reports)

Gardeners' Notes:

On Feb 21, 2017, Plantedz from Marlborough, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I first bought 2 of these for a sunny spot in my yard, they were so different from the other cannas with it's very tropical leaves and orange flowers. After seeing them my husband encouraged me to buy 2 more. So glad i did, they were the show stoppers in the garden. They were so worth the money and as a bonus they multiply as least three times more. I'm very happy with them.

On Feb 20, 2017, rossbynum from Houston, TX wrote:

In Houston, Canna's are generally great plants. They're low maintenance, they're showy, and they have a nice tropical look about them. That said, they spread a lot and grow fast. They either need to be potted or in a space that they can't "escape" out of due to their aggressive spreading nature. I certainly wouldn't plant (and I learned this the hard way) in a bed mixed with other plants as they'll take over. On top of that, as the rhizomes grow deep and in 1000 different directions, they're hard to eradicate if you make a planting "oops" and learned better. Great plants, but they need to be utilized in proper spots for full enjoyment and minimal inconvenience.

On May 3, 2015, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) wrote:

Multiple positive reviews cover all that is to be said about this beautiful canna. I will always grow it in my garden.

On Oct 23, 2013, realityfaery from Delano, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Cannas love our climate here and almost every other house you see a different variety of this beautiful plant. We just got 3 different varieties from my grandmother a few months ago and they seem to love the sandy flowerbed we put them in, this Tropicanna variety is wonderful to see in person. The foliage is just as fascinating as the blooms themselves.

On Jun 27, 2013, Cville_Gardener from Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

On Aug 12, 2012, FountainMan from McKinney, TX wrote:

I'm in North Texas where few plants can survive the droughts we see.

I got this and planted in a redesigned garden area and is really the focal point. I wanted more color variations and I liked the darker leaves and red leaves add the color sceme I was looking for.

Growing can be tricky. I don't water it more than once every 2 weeks but the clay soil we have holds water well so we don't have to worry about that but it seems to take the heat well also.

On Dec 6, 2011, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

Sailed through this Texas drought with only one drawback , it only reached 3 feet instead of the usual six . flowered like mad due to drought stress no doubt . It was a hummingbird magnet in my drought stricken yard .

On Sep 26, 2011, PennySmith2011 from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

This is my first attempt at growing Cannas in Okla. City, Ok.
I have the solid green leaf variety with 3 colors, orange, red and yellow. Love the idea that I can divide the plant bulb shoots and spread them out since some bulbs purchased did not sprout.

As for the bulbs that did not sprout, is it possible they will come up next year if I leave them alone or should I remove them?

On Sep 26, 2011, onemoreshot from Kissimmee, FL wrote:

This is a great plant, I live in Central Florida just south of Kissimmee. I started with a few plants and now have hundreds, I could have thousands if I had the room and the time.

I have yellow, red, a mixed color from the yellow and red flowers and I just purchased one orange colored one this year. Here is an example, that one orange canna I purchased this Spring has been split twice and I now have almost a dozen. I am in zone 9 so I will be splitting them again mid October.

I cut the seed heads off and once a plant has provided me with three flowers I cut that plant down to the ground. I chop up the plant and drop the cuttings on the ground. That is it, no bugs, no disease and blooms all season if only all plants could be like this.

On Sep 26, 2011, luvblooms from Saint Louis, MO wrote:

The original one I grew in a pot bloomed beautifully, but the replacement (also grown in a pot) has not had blooms at all (two seasons). It has recently added new leaves that are striped as they should be.
I love the plant but I don't know what I'm doing wrong.
Could it have a fungus or something? I live in mid eastern Missouri.

On Sep 26, 2011, zelisheva from jerusalem,
Israel wrote:

I'm in Jerusalem Israel-zone 10. My canna ia 2 years old, gets about 4 hours sun and water but it hasn't grown much and no flowers! can anyone tell me what i'm doing wrong? Thanks

On May 20, 2010, braun06 from Irving, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Most awesome canna to me and some years survives winter in the ground of zone 5A if there is snow. This aside I had to dispose mine due to canna viruses that are going global. My plants got distorted and odd colors in the leaves. The virus is spread by insects and all of my neighbors have the same problem. New plants from the store will still likely carry the disease so I am not planting cannas in general anymore.

On Aug 31, 2009, gdthorst from Granby, CT (Zone 6a) wrote:

In 2008, a single three-foot Canna was given to me in a two-gallon pot without flowers. I removed it from the pot in October, dried out, and hung in onion bag in cellar for the winter at 54 degrees. In April of 2009, I split apart the five rhizomes and planted them in rich soiled one-gallon starter pots. New England had a wet, cold spring in 2009. I lost three rhizomes due to rot. My Cannas did not start to grow until outside temperature reached the 60's in May. When I saw the shoots growing, I transferred the Cannas to five-gallon pots in rich fertilized soil. They grew to 54 inches tall. The first red flower buds didn't show them selves until the 28th of August, however they have beautiful green/red healthy leaves. Next year I will be sure to start them in a warm place to insure a jump o. read more n the growing season.

On Jul 2, 2009, WillowWasp from Jones Creek, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

One of the prettier canna's, leaves are impressive and blooms are sooooo pretty and bright. A real keeper in my book.

On Oct 27, 2008, wolfboi1970 from Reading, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I love this site and ALOT of great tips from fellow gardeners are posted. HOWEVER I read a comment about NOT placeing cannas in ponds. they can drowned. Cannas ARE water plants. I had 2 stalks measure out at 13.5 feet and the ones in the ground in front of house went up to the 2nd story windows

Also, cannas are invasive weeds in Florida wetlands. they LOVE water. So if you have a pond, please don't shy away from using them in the back of ponds or the dwarf ones in the foreground. thats how I was introduced to cannas. by pond owners.

I started planting in dirt 2 yrs later and the ones up to my 2 story windows. my trick. I watered EVERY MORNING. I put hose into center of clump and let water run while I weeded my beds. and fed them with fertilizer. read more spikes. so my point I guess is this. there are ALOT of new gardeners on here and I hope you all will try and test new methods and limit what you do with "tips" mine included. the best gardens are the ones you develop based on whats best for you and your region.

On Aug 23, 2008, babygrl from La Porte, IN wrote:

i was given four root pieces which turned into about thirty roots,, i have just dug it all up and im planting it elsewhere in my yard and i live in indiana zone 5 and im leaving it in the ground all winter to see what happens. if it lives, thats great, if not i have a bucket load of roots.

On Jun 25, 2008, Tir_Na_Nog from Houston,
United States (Zone 9b) wrote:

I saw this plant at a Home Depot and was so impressed with it's height and vivid bold colors! I hope to add some but the plants were $15 just for one.

On Mar 19, 2008, TropiTiki from Murrells Inlet, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

This variety has been adored for decades all over the world. It was not developed by Tesselaar, but merely patented by them and given a new trademarked name. The only difference is the higher price for Tesselaar's.

On Mar 17, 2008, MsDepp from Murfreesboro, TN wrote:

I have a canna which blooms red and yellow. A friend's husband got it to me about 6 years ago. I have split it and planted in different areas in my yard. Also shared with family and friends. It is beautiful and blooms all summer until frost .

On Oct 26, 2007, Just_Grow_It from Manassas, VA wrote:

It's beautiful and easy to grow. One of the best Cannas. It is perennial in my area (zone 6b/7a) WITHOUT digging the bulbs up, but only if planted up next to the house where the ground stays a little warmer then usual. It never sets seeds, but is easily divided.

On Mar 24, 2007, fly_girl from The Woodlands, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Cannas are susceptible to the Canna Leafroller or the Brazilian Skipper butterfly. The larva can do extensive damage by rolling up the leaves and feeding on them.
Other than this drawback, I love the Tropicanna.

On Jul 23, 2006, sangeline from Opa Locka, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I love my cannas but something has eaten all the leaves.

On Apr 28, 2006, allisaw from Springfield, OR (Zone 7b) wrote:

I purchased my Tropicanna from a store in Portland last summer. I was uncertain about planting them outside, so they are still potted. I kept the pot outside on my covered front patio so they got partial sun - but I had to water every day. They grew like crazy all summer long and were just gorgeous! So far it has been my favorite tropical plant. It was also a lot of fun to bring them inside for a tropical touch when I had guests. I'm not a big fan of the color orange. However, the flowers are simply BEAUTIFUL - a bright show of orange against the large leaves of the plant that are filled with various multi-color stripes of red, purple and green. It is just amazing - I can't say enough! The blooms are long lasting but when they died, I did cut them off the plant. During winter, I . read more brought them inside when the temprature in our area dropped to below 40 degrees. Initially they had a hard time adjusting even though I had placed them by some large windows in our house. However, the plant did amazingly well considering the lack of sunshine all winter. Recently, I did have to cut back the original plants which were dying - but already there are lots of new shoots emerging. Since I purchased them, I have seen lots of cannas in my area that are being grown outside. So this summer, I think I am going to try to transplant one of them and see how it goes. I am so excited to enjoy them all over again this summer!

On Apr 17, 2006, flipper83 from Victoria,
Canada wrote:

Beautiful easy to grow plant! I picked it up at a local discount garden center (yes, the real Tropicanna) & dropped it in my garden. It was in an irrigated zone, so it received a decent amount of water. It grew to about 5 feet in year one and bloomed like crazy. In the late fall, I chopped it right down, threw some of the leaves on top of it for mulch, some soil,, and let it sit. I looked today, and it's coming back up. Amazing, but I think it may take over the garden. I will have to divide and give to some friends.
Update, August 06, this thing grows in BC very well, and I never took it in.

On Apr 1, 2006, Suze_ from (Zone 7b) wrote:

One of my top five favorite cannas. Medium height, foliage has scrumptious, almost surrealistic multi-coloration.

On Nov 17, 2005, admodeva from Dutton, AL (Zone 7a) wrote:

This one is beautiful to me, it's held up well over this past summer's drought, even when neglected somewhat. Dust and dirt really show on the foliage though.

On Oct 18, 2005, Moonglow from Corte Madera, CA wrote:

Many thanks to SoCal (Donna), I now have this beautiful plant. This cultivar is BREATHTAKING. Truly the backbone of my small tropical corner.

I received Donna's gift late June 2005, and by the end of summer, I was able to give away two more divisions. One for my mom in San Diego, and another for my godmother (San Jacinto). Imagine, from a 2g pot!

It has also bloomed for me during that short period of time.

On Oct 14, 2005, gingern from Irvine, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Really adds a tropical look, but requires LOTS of water and, in here in Zone 9, can be quite invasive. The clump gets much larger very quickly - fine if you're willing to regularly (twice per year) dig up and divide. However, this is a large, heavy plant so digging up and dividing is not the easiest chore in the garden! Leaves look ratty if plant doesn't get enough regular water. Great for a trouble spot that remains constantly wet yet receives full sun.

On Jul 13, 2005, chunx from San Diego, CA wrote:

I bought a one gallon container of the 'Tropicanna' last Spring (2004) from Lowe's for about $10. Within a week, it had another stalk coming up before I even planted it in the ground. I divided it and put the smaller cutting in a large pot and planted the larger stalk in the ground. A year later, I have over 25 of these, all over 4 feet tall, some around 6 feet, and all are blooming. They are probably the best looking tropical I own.

Here in Southern California, they grow in our clay soil very well with a lot of water and even more fertilizer. They have filled in a totally bare spot on the side of my house. The tropical effect of the different colors in the leaves is an eye-catcher. I've had several neighbors ask for cuttings, and they're pretty surprised when I jus. read more t stick a spade in the ground, cut one in half and hand it to them. The orange flowers are beautiful, but they don't self-clean like Spitfire. If you have snails and slugs, bait, because they love them. I haven't had any trouble with insects on these cannas.

BEWARE of some sellers promoting 'Tropicana' cannas. (Notice the different spelling and it is a totally different variety.) I have seen them at Home Depot and they are not 'Tropicanna'. There is also a variety of 'Tropicanna' that is now called a 'Gold'. It is more like a 'Bengal Tiger' and not nearly as colorful as the original. Both of these varieties were developed by Anthony Tesselaar (visit their website). When buying, if it doesn't say Tesselaar, it's an illegal division from the original. There are a lot of bogus ones on eBay.

These also look great in large pots in an entryway. The older leaves will fade a bit in full sun, but the emerging leaves are a dark burgundy and then the stripes are predominate. You may limit the amount of sun during the day for a darker color. I think you will be more than pleased with this variety.

On May 27, 2005, tropicalfreak from Hollywood, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I have always heard people sink their cannas in ponds. I wouldn't recommend this. These guys do love water, but they could drown.

On Mar 8, 2005, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

A note on flowering time . my 'Tropicanna' started flowering on March 1 this year. In this climate it will be in almost continuous flower from now until November or December. Most cannas here seem to shut down flowering for the "winter' months. They are real heat lovers.

On Mar 7, 2005, mikib from Austin, TX wrote:

Just bought my first 3-gal. Tropicanna and read it was okay to sink it my koi pond (see "wnstarr, Oct. 26,2003") . Has been there over a week and we have had more rain days than not, temps 50's-70's. Leaves are starting to curl up, plant is submerged about 1 1/2" below water level. Just wondered if anyone else had experience with this one in a pond.

On Sep 21, 2004, jkom51 from Oakland, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This canna does well also in partial shade. In frost-free zones it will exceed 7' in a single season. Extremely vigorous, almost to the point of invasiveness. Divide regularly to keep in check.

On Sep 20, 2004, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

A stunning plant, with a gorgeous rainbow leaf and hot orange flowers. We put the pot away for the winter and bring it back out again in spring when the leaves explode with colour. This does well no matter where we put it, sun or shade.

On Sep 3, 2004, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have not yet grown this particular cultivar, but I grow many other cannas. To overwinter cannas in colder zones, wait until a frost has blackened the leaves. Dig the plants up (the rhizomes can be large, so dig generously so you don't chop them in pieces), cut the tops back to 12 inches, wash off all the soil, and lay out to dry in a dark, airy place for a couple of weeks, turning occasionally.

When fairly dry (don't dry them too much, they should not shrivel), cut off the tops to 2 inches and store. I store mine in loosely closed plastic (Walmart) bags for the winter, without any packing material and have had better results than with sand, peat moss, sawdust, etc. I store them in the dark in the coolest bedroom under a dresser at about 60 to 70 degrees.

> It is a good idea to check them occasionally during the storage period. if too wet (moldy) dry them out a bit. if too dry (shriveling up) give them a light sprinkling of water. And don't pile up a whole bunch of them. put the bags in a single layer with the tops slightly opened for air circulation. Put a cardboard box under them in case they leak or rot and your sack has a hole in it.

The rhizomes can be divided into smaller clumps next spring, but make sure each division has at least one eye (bud). I start mine indoors in a warm place in late March to get a jump on the season. Water the potted rhizomes once and then only slightly until new growth emerges, then give full sun and plenty of water, but do not leave outside until danger of frost is past.

Sometimes I leave the more common cannas all winter in the ground here in zone 6. If the area has good drainage, they don't rot. They need a good mulch to keep from freezing solid. The more expensive ones I always dig because a really cold winter could certainly be fatal. This may not be the official method for saving cannas, but it has worked for me. Hope this helps!

May 2005: I finally got one of these. The leaves are so dramatic!

On Aug 20, 2004, KSunfl0wer from Coatesville, PA wrote:

I bought a bag of these at a discount store this spring, popped them into the flower bed, and waited with not very high expectations. But I have over a dozen gorgeous cannas growing now, blooming with great enthusiasm -- we've had a fairly wet summer, and apparently they've decided they like Pennsylvania. How do I make sure they survive the winter?

On Aug 1, 2004, katiehoke from Granby, CT wrote:

I am a new gardener and have been awed by this beautiful plant. I live in CT so I keep it in a pot. What is the best way to save it for next year?

On Jul 8, 2004, sshop34 from Jasper, GA wrote:

I am in zone 7B in the North Georgia mountains and planted Tropicana Canna in 5-gallon pots on my deck. They have done great. Carolyn

On May 31, 2004, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

A popular canna cultivar with stunning red striped foliage. The large flowers are bright orange. I find it easy to propagate by root division. This cultivar is less vigorous than some other cannas but I believe it is well worth the effort.

On Oct 26, 2003, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Edgewood, Washington
This Canna has grown for years in my garden. It has survived many winters where there were freezing temps and lots of rain. It will rot from the constant water over the winter if not planted in a well drained location. The foliage is every bit as exciting as the bloom if not more so. Propagation is best by division. I have them planted in the ground and also have them in pots sunk into the koi pond. Wonderful addition to tropical look in a temperate zone. Try one and you too will be a convert to this beautiful plant.

On Oct 26, 2003, clantonnaomi from Iredell, TX wrote:

Even if this canna never did bloom, the foliage would certainly make having the plant worthwhile. Such gorgeous colored leaves! I started with one bulb several years ago and it has multipled into many, many more. I have dug many for friends - so easy to grow in central Texas.

On Oct 25, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
In my opinion, this is the showiest of all the cannas. It is especially noteworthy when planted in a location where the morning and afternoon sunlight can backlight it. Providing exquisite color, it practically jumps out from among the other plants and says, "Look at me!" It is super easy to grow and would provide a beginner gardener instant gratification.

On Aug 4, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I love cannas and they usually love growing in my climate, Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, as we get about 60 inches of rain a year. However, nearing the end of this rainy, cool summer we have already had 60 inches of rain, and if the promised La Nina doesn't come this fall, we may wind up with close to 80 or 90 inches. My cannas still love all the rain, and I have masses of foliage, but not many flowers.

My "Tropicana" was a gift last year from a neighbor, and I planted the baby plant in a raised flower bed last November. We had an unusually cold winter, but the "Tropicana" sprouted beautifully this spring, only to be hit hard by a very late frost. It had a harder time rebounding from the frost than any of my other cannas, possibly due to it's being so young. Only now . read more in early August has it finally gotten to some height, but it has never flowered, probably due to so little sun this summer. We are in the high 60's at night and the middle 80's during the day--unheard of here in August.

My tropicana has finally bloomed--a beautful light-orange flower--I am just thrilled with it and think that it is my favorite canna, both for the red foilage and the beautiful flower. I moved it to a much sunnier spot late last fall, along with several of my other canna varieties, and they make a very pretty flower bed, with the different colors of leaves and flowers. I also have yellow day lilies and red crocosmias in this bed, along with several Louisiana iris.

Canna "Tropicanna" is very easy to grow. Good soil,sun and generous amounts of water will suffice. Very good looking foliage and orange flowers. Put canna in your front yard and your neighbors will want to have a tuber or two for theirs.

On Apr 3, 2003, DDsPOTLUCK from convent, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

My past experience with Cannas shows me root division is the way to go to get more of these. I could be wrong about this one, so check it out with other people first. I would love to have this variety in my garden.

On Jan 13, 2003, Jerome from Beer-Sheva,
Israel wrote:

This is a canna with brilliantly coloured foliage, purple with pink veins fading to orange. The flowers are orange, and they are a bonus to the beautifull foliage. It grows very well in a soil which is high in organic matter. The plant prefers to grow at about pH6.5.

Canna, Canna, Canna - Growing Canna Lilies in Your Garden

Canna lilies are bold, tropical-looking, herbaceous perennial plants that are summer bloomersfor the south. Cannas have been in and out of fashion many times during their long history, and are currently rebounding in popularity from a post WWII low. In the South, we plant canna bulbs and forget-em, but north of Zone 7b, canna lily bulbs are easy to lift and store during the winter. We urge our readers to visit our garden during the summer and fall open house and garden dates to see our Canna plant collection. You can also check out our web site to view our cannas for sale.

How to grow Canna Lily

Canna x generalis 'Blueberry Sparkler'

Garden Design Considerations for Canna Lilies

Canna plants should be located where they will have a visual impact at the height of summer. Most cannas are tall and need to be placed at the back of a bed, but there are some dwarf varieties that will look good at the front of the border. Here at our garden nursery, we combine cannas with spring bulbs, baptisia, daylilies, coneflowers, cuphea, and ornamental grasses. Canna plants are 55mph plants and can be located along highways where they can be appreciated by drivers. In 1986, in preparation for the US Olympic Festival in Raleigh, we introduced the NC Department of Transportation Roadside Beautification Division to canna lily bulbs, by sharing several dump truck loads of Canna bulbs (rhizomes) cultivar 'The President' from plantings that we had growing at the NC State Fair grounds. To say they liked cannas would be the understatement of the decade as visitors can now find Canna lilies planted along highways from one end of North Carolina to the other.

How much sun should Cannas get?

In their native habitat, the Canna lily plant grows in shaded locations. However, in temperate gardens Cannas need full sun. The more sun, the better. In the extreme southern US, the intense sunlight may bleach the flowers, but partial shade may help in these locations as well as in the desert Southwest, where the lower humidity and soil moisture may also cause foliar burning. Canna lilies will survive in a shady site, but they will not grow as profusely and the leaves (especially red or purple) may lose their color, defeating the purpose of growing them.

What type of soil should I grow Canna Lilies in?

Canna lily plants prefer rich, water-retentive, well-drained soils that are high in organic matter but will do fine in a wide range of soils. They prefer a pH around 6.5.

How much should I water Canna Lilies?

Some cultivars have been bred to grow partially submerged in shallow water as well as in saturated soils. In drier planting areas, at least 1-2" of water per week is needed to keep Canna lilies looking their best.

How much fertilizer should Cannas get?

Like bananas, Canna lilies are heavy feeders. Gardeners need to provide plenty of compost or organic fertilizer to keep their plants looking their best. Without adequate fertility or moisture, Cannas look quite ugly. If your Canna lily plant looks ratty during the summer, that's a sure sign that an extra shovel of manure is required. As long as you are using organics, it is impossible to over-fertilize a canna.

How to grow a Canna Lily plant in a container

If you're growing your canna lily in containers, keep in mind that Canna lilies are large plants and therefore need a large container. Any good potting soil will work fine. The plants will lose vigor as they become pot-bound. When that happens, lift the root-ball, divide the canna bulbs (rhizomes) and replant. Container-grown Canna lilies will need watering once or even twice a day if grown outside, and it may help to stand the pot in a saucer of water. Provide a slow-release granular or water soluble fertilizer at full rate according to the instructions on the label.

Canna flaccida

How to prune Canna

Pruning is not usually necessary with Canna. But if your Canna lily plant is looking ragged, you can cut the plants to the ground even in midsummer, add fertilizer, water, and they will quickly recover. As mentioned earlier, the old flower stalks will die and fade away on their own, but if you are a neat freak, feel free to cut them back. Be sure to remove the old spent inflorescences on Canna that produce viable seed to prevent unwanted seedlings that will vary from the original clone. In the fall, I like to let Canna die back on their own since the old foliage helps protect canna bulbs (rhizomes) from winter cold.

What temperatures do Canna prefer?

They like really hot temperatures in the summer and perform well into the upper 90s.

How to plant Canna Lilies

Canna are root hardy perennials in places where the soil does not freeze, and can survive air temperatures down to 0°F. Canna bulbs (rhizomes) should be planted 2-4" deep after the last frost date and should not be planted after August, north of Zone 8. Potted Canna lilies should be planted in the garden at the same level they were in the pot. A well-developed rhizome will have 3 or more eyes on it. Cannas form wide clumps so individual plants should be spaced 2-3' apart . more for some of the more stoloniferous canna lily selections.

How to overwinter Canna

We recommend that in climates where winter temperatures drop below 5 degrees F they be covered in fall with a 1' deep pile of shredded leaves. North of Zone 7b, you may be able to squeeze out another half-zone of hardiness by looking for a microclimate in your garden. Site your Canna plant along a south facing wall or other heat-retaining structure. In colder climates, lift the tubers and store them indoors above freezing for the winter. When lifting Canna bulbs (rhizomes), take care not to damage them, especially those cultivars that have long narrow rhizomes (like Canna 'Stuttgart'). Shake off the excess soil and store the rhizomes in peat moss to avoid dessication. Do not add any water or you will promote rotting. Dust the rhizomes with sulfur to keep away fungi and bacteria. Keep the rhizomes cool (below 50°F) but do not let them freeze. A garage, crawl-space, or basement is ideal. Make sure that the peat does not dry out too much during the winter. If the peat starts pulling away from the pot edge, add a little water. Prior to planting in the spring, wet the peat moss so that the rhizomes are turgid when planted.

How to Propagate Canna Lily

Cannas may be propagated by division or by seed. When dividing the rhizome, lift it and remove any excess soil.

With division, cut the rhizome into sections, each containing at least 3 eyes (prominent red buds). Single-eye divisions may survive but will take longer to produce a vigorous new plant. The best time to divide is when the rhizome is actively growing so that the new buds are easily seen.

Due to centuries of breeding, most of the commercial Canna plants are sterile and don't produce seed. Only those which are fairly close to the native species will produce viable seed. If you have several Cannas, you can expect a wide range of variability in the seedlings since Canna lilies are both self-fertile as well as out-crossing to other nearby Canna.

If your plants set seed, they will be held in warty quarter-sized capsules. When opened, the canna seed look like small, dark, ball-bearings. The seed coat is exceedingly thick and requires scarification for germination to occur. Part of the seed coat contains polyphenols which act as chemical germination inhibitors. They must break down or be washed away before germination will occur. Nick the seed coat with sandpaper, or a small saw blade until the light-colored tissues are exposed. Take care not to cut too deep and damage the embryo. There is a roughly circular spot on the seed called the "imbibition lid" near the hilum slit (the scar where the seed was attached to the fruit), which is slightly raised above the surface of the seed. The imbibition lid is the spot that naturally decomposes, falls off, and allows water to enter the seed. If you can find it, the imbibition lid is the best place scarify canna seed.

An alternative to scarifying the seed is the hot water method. Place the seeds in a cup and pour very hot (nearly boiling) water over them. The temperature shock causes micro-fissures in the seed coat which allows imbibition. Let the water cool naturally and soak the seeds in it for 24 hours. Warm water above 122°F (50°C) for 24 hours helps to loosen the imbibition lid.

Soak the scarified seeds in water for 24 hours and sow in a heated, well lit location. The soil temperature should be kept at 70°F (21°C) for best results. It is best to put each seed in its own pot because the new roots are very fragile and prone to tangling. Grow the seedlings at 60°F (16°C) until they have two or three leaves. Keep young seedlings indoors until the danger of frost has passed. Harden-off the seedlings by moving them outside to a protected location and gradually increase the light level and exposure to cooler temperatures until they are growing in full sun at outside temperatures.

Tissue culture has also been used to propagate Canna plants but it has been uneconomical compared to division due to the low perceived value of Canna. Because the level of virus in most modern Canna lilies is so high, tissue culture has been the savior of many varieties that would have been otherwise lost.

Canna x generalis 'Lemon Punch'

Pests and Diseases of Canna Lily

Because Canna plants are so tough, you would expect them to be free of pests and diseases in the garden, but this is not the case. Slugs, snails, and Japanese beetles would fall into the range of minor pests on Canna. They damage the plants by chewing holes in the leaves or feasting on the flowers. Problems with slugs and snails can be virtually eliminated with good organic soil preparation and by avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers, which kill off many of the natural snail and slug predators. Similarly, Japanese beetles are seldom a problem when the plants are growing stress-free in well-prepared soils. If Japanese beetles do appear, they typically prefer only the canna flowers and can be easily picked up and subjected to the torture method of your choice.

Without question, the worst pest of Canna lily is a caterpillar known as the lesser canna leaf-roller, which is primarily found in the southern US. The canna leaf-roller moth lays eggs in the bud of the developing stalk. These hatching caterpillars use a sticky webbing to keep the leaf from unfurling, which protects them from predators and insecticide sprays. They feed and pupate inside the rolled-up leaf and can cause significant damage to the developing stalks.

Some Canna plants are more susceptible to damage by canna leaf-rollers than others. Typically, the closer to the species the Canna are, the less damage that we see. Canna glauca, for example, is virtually untouched. The key to controlling canna leaf-rollers is vigilance. Leaf-rollers can be a problem as early as spring, so keep a close eye for the first sign of webs holding the newly emerging leaves together. Opening the leaves and removing the offending caterpillars will work on a small scale, but in larger plantings, you can simply clip off the top half of the rolled leaf. Insecticides such as Dipel (Bacillus thuringensis) can be sprayed into the bottom half of the leaf so that it reaches the caterpillars. If the leaf-roller population is high, you may need to spray throughout the growing season, but as you reduce the moth population, the need to spray lessens. Again, the key is to monitor your plants and not allow the larvae to mature, which starts the cycle over again.

Canna x generalis 'Ambassador'

Aphids, spider mites, or whiteflies will rarely attack Canna lilies in the garden, but can sometimes be a problem indoors or in a greenhouse. Again, stress reduction goes a long way to prevent such attacks, but when appropriate, these pests can be killed with insecticides (see your county extension office for recommendations). It is better to try to prevent insect infestation by removing dead foliage and providing a humid environment. Mice may eat the stored rhizomes and can be treated with baits or traps.

In hot, humid climates Canna plants can develop a fungal problem called canna rust. It forms rusty-orange colored pustules spread by splashed water on the back of the leaves which eventually turn black and die. Canna rust is difficult to control but there are fungicidal sprays that can prevent it from starting. Here at Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Gardens, we remove the rust covered leaves and destroy them . they should never be added to your mulch pile!

Along with leaf-rollers canna viruses are the most serious cultivation problem. Canna viruses are easily passed from plant to plant by sucking insects such as aphids and then spread by unsanitary division techniques. Virus can cause spotted or streaked leaves, stunted growth, and distorted blooms. Low levels will not kill the plant but they may reduce its vigor. In most cases, low levels of virus are undetectable and unnoticeable, except during cool weather. High virus loads, on the other hand, can render Cannas so unattractive, they must be discarded. Because Canna lily plants are often carelessly divided, viruses can easily spread and multiply. Canna are also one of the few plants in which viruses can also be transmitted by seed. While many of the seed strains are fairly clean of virus, this is not a guarantee of a virus-free plant. There are several viruses that can infect Canna including Bean yellow mosaic virus, hippeastrum mosaic virus, tomato aspermy virus, cucumber mosaic virus, canna yellow streak virus, and most seriously, canna yellow mottle virus. Most canna cultivars tolerate a certain amount of viral load and will grow and thrive despite being infected.

As late as 2005, there were virtually no virus-free Canna grown in cultivation, but the savior came in the form of tissue culture. We had been trying to persuade labs to tackle the issue of cleaning up the canna virus in the laboratory and finally, Agristarts of Florida stepped forward. During the tissue culturing process the canna's sterile tissue is subjected to high heat which causes the developing plant to stretch. The stretched part of the new tissue is then re-cultured before the virus has a chance to re-infect it. Each new culture is then checked to make sure the virus isn't still present . a process called virus-indexing. This is a time consuming and expensive process ($1000-$5000 per plant) since it often takes several tries to make sure the tissue is finally clean. Agristarts is continuing their work and it is our hope that other labs will join them in their goal to bring less virused stock to the market.

Despite selling clean stock, there is no guarantee that the plants will stay clean once they are exposed to the environment, but at least we've got a much better quality plant than we had available in the past. There is no cure for virus infections in Canna other than the procedure mentioned above or to destroy the infected plant.

Canna x generalis 'Nuance'

History and Background of Canna Lily

Canna species are native to semi-tropical and tropical parts of North and South America. Their native range extends from South Carolina (Canna flaccida) south to Argentina and includes the Caribbean islands. In their native habitat, Canna live in damp shady locations along the margins of rivers and lakes.

Canna are valuable as a food source in certain cultures because their rhizomes contain a high quality starch. The primary species used for food production is Canna indica. The starch (commonly called achira) is used in Vietnam to make high quality "cellophane" noodles. In the modern era of agriculture, canna is only rarely used as a primary food source, as it has been replaced by more nutritious and higher yielding crops such as potatoes and corn. Canna have been cultivated as a food crop for over 4000 years in Central and South America.

Canna x generalis 'Thai One On'

Although used for thousands of years as a food crop, Canna were not well-known to European botanists until the 1500s. They are first mentioned in the book The Vienna Codex (1536-1566). Canna may have arrived in Europe from the Americas as early as Columbus's 1492 travels. By 1576, Canna were cultivated in gardens in several European countries although, they only became widely popular as ornamental plants in the Victorian era (mid to late 1800s).

Canna had a particularly large following in France, Hungary, England, Italy, Germany, America and India during the late 1800s. Hundreds of cultivars with shorter habits and novel flower forms and colors were created between 1860 and 1910. Unfortunately, most of these cultivars were lost because European gardeners stopped growing Canna during the upheaval from World War I through World War II. In addition, garden fashions changed. In the first half of the 20th century prominent garden designers, such as Gertrude Jekyll, replaced formal looking Victorian gardens with informal, relaxed perennial borders. This led gardeners to largely abandon the plants used by the previous generation, including the canna. However, starting in the 1950s, Cannas have been making a slow comeback in gardens, and today they are approaching their Victorian era popularity. Modern breeders have been releasing some wonderful cultivars and currently there are more than 2000 cultivars to choose from . surely you can find at least one that you like.

Canna Morphology

Canna are herbaceous perennials with a rhizomatous rootstock that allows them to spread slowly outward from where they are planted. Each individual stem consists of a central stalk with 10 to 12 leaves arranged alternately or spirally along it. Each plant may be 2' to 3' wide. In nature, the plants tend to be quite tall (7' to 16') but many shorter selections have been created for gardens. Once the plant has 6 to 9 leaves, it forms an inflorescence at the tip. After the inflorescence has finished flowering, that stalk begins to die and is replaced by a new stalk emerging toward the tip of the rhizome.

Canna x generalis 'Pink Sunrise'

Canna x generalis 'Reine Charlotte'

When canna leaves first emerge, they are rolled up and unfurl over the course of a day or two (unfurling occurs only at night). The leaves areagenerally waxy (glaucous) and may have a dull or shiny finish depending on the type of wax. The Water canna cultivar group generally has very narrow leaves compared to most others. The leaves have rounded sides that taper to a point at the tip (acute or short acuminate). The leaf blade tapers gradually into a sheath that merges with the stem and thus there is no leaf petiole.

The canna flower is very exotic. Technically, the 'flowers' are inflorescences, meaning that they are clusters of flowers on a single structure. A single terminal inflorescence forms at the tip of the stalk. The inflorescence may be straight and narrow (a spike) or quite well branched (a panicle or thyrse). The well-branched trait is strongly selected for by breeders as it is showier. Some canna florets open in the morning and look best during the daytime, while others are night bloomers whose beauty is waning by the next morning. Canna flowers are pollinated by a variety of organisms. Day-flowering Canna are pollinated by bees or hummingbirds and night-flowering Canna are pollinated by moths or bats.

Canna florets tend to be short-lived, lasting only a day or two. New florets open constantly and provide a continual bloom during the season. In temperate gardens, canna flowering usually begins in midsummer and will last until frost. The start date and duration of flowering varies by cultivar. Flowering is more prolific if gardeners remove the old flowers, taking care not to damage the unopened buds still remaining in the flower spike. In a greenhouse, Canna will generally not flower in the winter due to low light levels, and flowering may be curtailed during extremely hot temperatures.

Canna flowers range in color from pale-yellow, to orange, to blood-red, and all shades in between (salmon, apricot, and pink). Many people think that canna flowers only come in rich, saturated exciting colors like bright-red or yellow. However, there are many pastel shades of pink, primrose yellow, and pale orange. A few cultivars are marketed as being white, but that is not strictly true. The "white" Canna usually emerge a very pale yellow and mature to a cream color. There are no true white Canna in cultivation. Some of the Victorian era Canna were said to have been pure white, but they have been lost to history and we have no way of verifying these claims. There are no blue or purple canna flowers.

Canna flowers may be striped, streaked, spotted or splotched with contrasting colors. The most common form is a yellow or orange flower with darker red to brown splotches on it. There are a few picotee Canna that are red with a yellow edge. Occasionally the throat of the flower (where the staminodes overlap) will have a contrasting color. The labellum may have contrasting spots or stripes on it too.

Canna x generalis 'Cleopatra'

Canna Taxonomy

The genus name canna comes from the Greek "kanna" and the Celtic "cana" which refers to "a reed-like plant" and is also the root of the musical term "canon". The name canna was applied to this genus as early as 1576 and was formally given to the genus by Linnaeus in his seminal work Species Plantarum. (Trivia: canna is the first genus described in Species Plantarum). Canna are the only genus in the family Cannaceae. Cannaceae is in the order Zingibales and is thus distantly related to Banana (Musa), Bird-of-Paradise (Strelitzia), Heliconia, Maranta, and Ginger (Zingiber). Like these, canna is a monocot.

The taxonomy of the genus canna has been tumultuous and confused due to its worldwide cultivation for food and its extensive hybridization for ornamental use. In the past, experts have argued that there may be 50 to 100 species in the genus and used floral morphology to identify different species. However, modern taxonomists have declared many of these species to be either duplicates or to be cultivated hybrids that do not deserve a specific epithet. The prominent Japanese botanist Nobuyuki Tanaka wrote a monograph of the of the family Cannaceae in 2001 and indicated that there were 19 species in the genus. In 2008, H. Maas-van de Kamer and P.J.M. Maas released another canna monograph declaring that there are only 10 wild species in the genus. Maas lumped many of Tanaka's Asian canna species together under Canna indica using the argument that Canna are native to the Americas and any Asian taxa are merely descendants of Canna indica that spread worldwide as a food crop. Tanaka on the other hand has done cytological and genetic analysis of all the taxa and makes a case for 19 genetically distinct Canna based on morphology, DNAanalysis, and pollen structure. Plant taxonomists often have disagreements of this sort. Different breeders and growers may choose to follow one taxonomist or the other as their preferred source. Kew gardens in England has sided with Tanaka for the time being, and has assigned all of the historical species to one of Tanaka's 19 species.

Canna x generalis 'Florence Vaughan'

  • Canna bangii
  • Canna flaccida - used as a source of yellow flowers and scent in modern cultivars.
  • Canna glauca - used extensively in modern cultivars for its form and tolerance of wet feet.
  • Canna indica - parent of agricultural cannas. Used extensively in modern cultivars for its form, branched inflorescences and early flowering.
  • Canna iridiflora - used extensively in modern cultivars for large flowers, long bloom period, self-cleaning flowers, and cold tolerance.
  • Canna jaegeriana
  • Canna liliiflora - used extensively in modern cultivars for large flowers, off-white flower color, and flower scent. It has poor cold tolerance and is difficult to grow.
  • Canna paniculata
  • Canna pedunculata
  • Canna tuerckheimii

The nine additional species according to Tanaka are:

  • Canna amabilis
  • Canna coccinea
  • Canna compacta
  • Canna discolor - Maas considers this to be Canna indica. This is the main agricultural species.
  • Canna jacobiniflora
  • Canna patens - Maas considers this to be Canna indica.
  • Canna plurituberosa
  • Canna speciosa - Maas considers this to be Canna indica.
  • Canna stenantha

Canna hybridization has crossed many of the wild species in a very complex manner. Many epithets have been used in canna breeding programs leading to names such as Canna x hortensis, Canna x hybrida, and Canna x orchiodes. These have all been abandoned and for the sake of simplicity, all ornamental hybrids of canna are now properly called Canna x generalis. Usually, breeders do not mention the epithet "x generalis" when they write the name.

Canna x generalis 'Durban'

Canna Genetics and Breeding

Canna first appeared in US gardens in the 1840s but they were not widespread until the 1890s. Much of the early breeding work with Canna occurred in France. The first prominent breeder was M. Théodore Année, a French diplomat who collected Canna glauca and Canna indica in Chile and based his garden hybrids on crosses of these two species. He improved the habit and leaf color but his cultivars sported wild-type flowers. Année released at least 20 hybrid lines by the 1870s with names such as Canna Annei-rosea, Canna Annei-rubra, and Canna Annei-marginata. Later catalogs referred to Canna Anneii and some early taxonomists have used the now invalid term Canna x annaei. Unfortunately, many of his hybrid lines have died out, but there are some modern hybrids with similar traits. The Année Canna were bred primarily for foliage attributes and are usually listed in the Foliage Group of ornamental Canna. Année was also responsible for another popular breeding line of foliage Canna named for a German named Ehemann. These were primarily a cross between Canna iridiflora and Canna 'Warscewicsii' (aka Canna warscewicsii, Canna indica var. warscewicsii) and are also known as Ehemann Canna, Canna 'Ehemannii', or the invalid name Canna x ehmannii.

Canna x ehemannii 'Ehemanni'

In the 1890s the German botanist, Carl Ludwig Sprenger, while working in Italy, crossed existing cultivars with the American native species Canna flaccida to bring bright yellow flowers into the gene pool. He introduced multicolored flowers that had yellow staminodes with red or brown splotches. These flowers often tended to resemble Cattleya orchid flowers because they had wide overlapping staminodes. Sprenger's cultivars were referred to as Italian Canna or Orchid-flowered Canna. They have also been known as Canna x orchiodes (or Canna x orchioides) which is no longer considered a valid name. These Canna have been assigned to the Italian Group of Canna.

America also had its own crop of early canna breeders which include Antoine Wintzer and Dr. Van Fleet who together created over 100 cultivars from the 1890s to the 1910s. Their goal was to create pure color forms of rare colors, including yellow and white. Many of these crosses are still around today including the popular burgundy-leaved 'Wyoming'. At the same time, the West Coast plant guru Luther Burbank had his own canna breeding program.

The most prominent botanist of the 20th century doing research on canna genetics and breeding was Triloki Nath Khoshoo of the National Botanic Gardens of Lucknow in India. He performed in-depth studies of canna history, breeding and genetics during the 1960s and 1970s. The culmination of this research was the well known book, The Origin and Evolution of Cultivated Canna.

Over the last 150 years, breeders have reduced the height of the plant, increased the flower size and staminode width, increased the length of the flowering period, improved the flower placement (higher above the leaves and more erect), improved flower durability, improved the cold hardiness, and produced self-cleaning plants (the spent flowers fall off automatically and do not need to be pruned).

Canna x generalis 'Orange Punch'

Prominent modern canna breeders include retired nursery owner and hybridizer Kent Kelly of Jonesboro, Arkansas Reverend Curt Wallace of Delaware Dr. Robert Armstrong of Longwood Gardens who had a large canna breeding program in the 1960s Marcelle Sheppard of Texas Jan Potgeither of South Africa Bernard Yorke of Australia and Dave Karchesky and Alice Harris of Pennsylvania. Plant Delights Nursery is happy to offer some of their best cultivars for sale.

Canna Species and Natural hybrids

Canna glauca (Glaucous Leaf Canna) Here is a canna for folks who don't like Canna . and for those that do! Canna glauca is composed of glaucus grey green narrow leaves, that are topped all summer with lovely buttery yellow flowers . not as abrasive as some of the large flowered hybrids, but quite lovely. This vigorous spreader for the border may need to be contained in good soils . a nice problem! (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Canna glauca 'Panache' (Panache Canna)

Canna glauca 'Panache'

'Panache'Originally brought into the US by California sea captain Commander Bauman, it was passed around California until spotted by plantsman Herb Kelly, who named and introduced it to commerce. The narrow, pointed, grey-green leaves adorn the upright stalk to 6'. Atop the clump through summer and into fall are charming, narrow, salmon-pink flowers (darker in the center). This vigorous grower even spreads fast enough for you to share plenty. Canna glauca can grow in standing water or in regular garden soil. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Canna indica 'Red Stripe' (poss. syn: Canna indica 'Purpurea') We have been growing Canna indica 'Red Stripe' in our test garden for a number of years, as visitors begged us to begin propagation. The 8' tall, thick stalks are home to large (nearly 2' long) leaves of purple with a dramatically contrasting green pattern between the veins. Topping, but not distracting from, the great bold foliage are stalks of small, brilliant red flowers . a can't-miss addition to the border! (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna indica 'Red Stripe'

Canna iridiflora (Peruvian Canna)
This species of canna has been used extensively as a parent in the creation of modern canna hybrids. This is an extremely tall plant (up to 16') with small, pendulous pink flowers that arrive late in the season. It is a native plant in high elevations of Peru, Columbia, and Costa Rica. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna patens (Patens Canna)
Considered to be a synonym of Canna indica by Maas but a separate species by Tanacka. It is small sized with green ovoid foliage, a spreading habit, and triangular stems. The spikes of flowers are upright, yellow with a wide red margin. Its staminodes are long and narrow, edges regular, petals yellow, partial self-cleaning. It is fertile both ways, self-pollinating and also true to type. Tillering (running offsets) is prolific. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Tama Tulipa' (Tama Tulipa Canna)

Canna 'Tama-Tulipa'

Canna tuerckheimii (Tuerckheim's Canna)
This is an extremely tall species of canna that is almost never seen in cultivation. The leaves are quite large for a canna and the flowers are orange-red. Come take a gander at ours. You'll have to look up though because it is 12' tall! (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

List of Canna Cultivars

Canna x generalis 'Kansas City'

Below is a short list of some of the interesting cultivars at Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden. We strive to grow only the most interesting and evocative specimens as well as some of the new plants on the market.

Canna 'Apricot Dream' (Apricot Dream Canna)

Canna x generalis 'Apricot Dream'

Canna 'Australia' (Australia Canna) (syn: Canna 'Feuerzauber')
We have grown a lot of purple-foliaged Canna but never anything like this. The deep burgundy-black foliage has a satin-like sheen, and the intense color holds superbly during the summer heat. Canna Australia foliage rises to 4-5', topped with a magnificent display of large, shocking red flowers . a true stunner. Thanks to canna guru Johnnie Johnson for sharing this coveted gem he obtained from New Zealand. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Bengal Tiger' (Bengal Tiger Canna) (syn: Canna 'Aureostriata' or Canna 'Pretoria')

Canna x generalis 'Bengal Tiger'

Imported from India in 1963 by the Glasshouse Works guys, this is considered to be the most beautiful of Canna. The dramatic stalks of green-and yellow-striped leaves with a brilliant maroon edge grow to 6' and are topped in summer with bright orange flowers . scrumptious! Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ will also grow in water as an aquatic. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Cleopatra' (Cleopatra Canna) I couldn't believe my eyes when they fell upon this canna at the Kunming Botanic Garden in China. Large purple blotches wove their way through the green leaves and into the flower stalks. If the flowers came from the purple side, they were red . from the green side of the leaf, they were yellow . sometimes from both . you get the picture. This unstable and highly variable chimera is actually an old but hard-to-find cultivar called Canna 'Cleopatra'. We think it is time for a reintroduction of this fascinating attention-getter. Remove all solid green shoots to maintain the pattern. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Constitution' (Constitution Canna)

Canna x generalis 'Constitution'

We think this is one of the most "designer-friendly" Canna we have ever grown. Instead of the typical gaudy colors we love, this sweetie from the famed Longwood Gardens breeding program is quite the opposite. The narrow foliage is a mysterious grey-purple color, making a perfect foil for the rich, creamy, light-pink flowers that top the clump. While this 5' tall plant is a good grower, it is not as fast to multiply as are most other cannas. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Durban' (Durban Canna) This is from the 1980's wave of variegated leaf cannas. The reddish purple leaf is dramatically striped with yellow veins. In addition to the dramatic foliage, the plant is topped from late spring through late summer with stalks of large brilliant scarlet-red flowers for a combination that would make even the most flamboyant designer blush. Canna 'Durban' makes a great garden plant but does not multiply as fast as the other variegated leaf types. Some people say it is the same as Canna Phasion but it is distinct in flower. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Ehemanni' (Ehemanni Canna) This hybrid or selection of Canna iridiflora, first introduced in 1863, is quite different from other cannas in the trade. The large, cherry-red flowers on the 8-foot giant are held on arching pendulous spikes. We have found this to be a great, back-of-the-border choice due to its size, color, and floriferousness. Canna 'Ehemanni' has long been a crowd favorite at open house. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna x generalis 'Ermine'

Canna 'Ermine' (Ermine Canna)
This Curt Wallace hybrid is still regarded as the closest to white (as judged by a team of color-blind nurserymen) that is available in the canna family. This 3' tall clumper is topped all summer with very large, creamy white flowers, flushed with pale yellow toward the center. Canna 'Ermine' will allow designers to create some exciting and distinctive new color combinations in the summer garden. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Florence Vaughan' (Florence Vaughn Canna)They say that everything old is new again and nothing could be more true with canna lilies. Named after Florence Cropp Vaughn, Canna 'Florence Vaughan' was introduced from the famed Vaughan's Seed Company (now Syngenta) of Chicago in 1893, and just like the Cubs, it still has many loyal fans. Unlike the Cubs, Canna 'Florence Vaughan' is consistently good. This vigorous canna makes a stunning 6' tall clump, topped all summer with large bright yellow flowers highlighted with dramatic orange-red speckling. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Canna 'Freedom' (Freedom Canna) Released by canna geneticist Dr. Robert Armstrong from his canna breeding program at Longwood Gardens in the 1960's. This canna belongs to the Conservatory Group which means that it is vigorous, early flowering, self-cleaning and easy to propagate. It has hot-orange flowers with a yellow throat. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Intrigue' (Intrigue Canna)

Canna x generalis 'Intrigue'

Designers love it, garden visitors love it, we love it . so why are we sharing? This amazing canna, a 1978 seedling selection from California's Herb Kelly, is one of the most un-canna looking cannas we have grown. The very narrow, pointed, purple-grey foliage makes one of the most stunning accent plants in the garden. In addition, the narrow leaves and strong vertical habit make the architectural presentation of this canna most special. The 7' tall clumps are topped in very late summer with small orange-red flowers, but this baby is truly chosen for its wonderful form . sort of like the babes of Baywatch. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Kansas City' (Kansas City Canna) This unusual canna adds to the ever increasing line of variegated foliage cannas. From our plant-nut friend, Jim Waddick, comes this sport discovered in Kansas City, MO. The foliage has irregular 1" wide sectoral patterns, alternating green and chartreuse. In late summer, the clumps are topped with large bright butter yellow flowers. While I can't call this canna attractive, it is a curiosity and certainly a true collector's item. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Canna 'Mactro' PP 13,809 (Tropicanna Gold Canna™)

Canna x generalis 'Mactro' PP 13,809

Canna 'Minerva' (aka: Canna 'Nirvana' or Canna 'Striped Beauty')
This old hybrid is still one of the most popular of the variegated cannas today. Canna 'Minerva' makes a 5' tall stalk with brilliant white-and-green striped leaves. This vigorously multiplying canna is topped off with unique red flower buds that open to large, butter-yellow flowers . produced all summer! When Canna 'Minerva' is fed well and kept moist, it is indeed a fantastic garden plant. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Canna 'Musaefolia' (Banana Canna Lily)

Canna 'Musaefolia'

If you are into the tropical look, don't miss growing the gigantic banana canna. Canna 'Musaefolia' has a clouded origin (possibly related to Canna 'Edulis'), but what we do know is that it is one heck of a structural element in the garden. The 12-14' tall stalks are home to extremely large, banana-like leaves . each green with a purple-red border. While Canna 'Musaefolia' rarely flowers, the flowers produced are small, red, and pale in size compared to the foliage. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Orange Punch' (Orange Punch Canna)

"Amazing!" "I've never seen anything like it!" These are just a few of the comments from visitors about this Kent Kelly hybrid. Canna 'Orange Punch' is a compact, fast-multiplying canna, topped from spring until frost with intense bright orange flowers with a yellow throat. From its Canna iridiflora background, the flowers are held in long pendent racemes instead of the typical upright spikes. If you like bright gaudy colors, this unique new canna will quickly become one of your favorites! (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Pacific Beauty' (Pacific Beauty Canna - syn: Canna 'Semaphore')

Canna x generalis 'Pacific Beauty'

Canna 'Phasion' PP 10,569 (Tropicanna Canna Lily)

This incredible recent introduction from Jan Potgeither of South Africa is a sport of the ever-popular Canna 'Wyoming'. Even without flowers, you would surely grow Canna Tropicanna for the foliage . purple with dramatic stripes of yellow and red, evenly spaced throughout the leaf. Atop the 7' tall stems are wonderfully gaudy, shocking orange flowers throughout the summer . indeed, this is the Howard Stern of the plant world . guaranteed to get your friends talking! (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Pink Sunburst' (Pink Sunburst Canna)

Canna x generalis 'Pink Sunburst'

Canna 'Reine Charlotte' (Reine Charlotte Canna) (aka: Canna 'Königin Charlotte')

This deliciously tacky canna hybrid from the late 1800s is still one of our favorites. The small, brilliant red flowers, outlined with a wide band of bright yellow are held atop 4' tall stalks throughout the summer months . a real showstopper. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Stuttgart' (Stuttgart Canna)

Canna x generalis 'Stuttgart'

Canna 'Thai One On' (Thai One On Canna) This amazing Canna glauca hybrid (possibly with Canna iridiflora) was brought into the US by Texan Margie Brown, who purchased it sans name from a roadside nursery south of Bangkok. The 6' tall stalks of glaucous leaves are topped, starting in summer, with peachy-orange buds that open to lovely, somewhat pendent fleshy-pink flowers (RHS 48D) . the best pink-flowered canna we've ever grown and extremely leaf-roller resistant. Like Canna glauca 'Panache', it multiplies quite rapidly when grown in moist, rich soil. Thanks to both Mary Elliott and Steve Lowe for independently sending it our way. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Canna 'Thai Rainbow' (Thai Rainbow Canna)

Canna x generalis 'Thai Rainbow'

Canna 'Tropicanna Black' PPAF (Tropicanna Black Canna - syn: Canna 'Lon01') This new canna was introduced without a valid cultivar name . sorry guys. 'Lon01' isn't valid, so we have renamed it Canna 'Tropicanna Black'. Understanding that cultivar names should be real words must be harder than I thought. Canna Tropicanna Black is the latest addition to the splendid black foliage canna selections. The shiny dark purple leaves, which are wider but not as dark as Canna 'Australia', make a nice 4' tall clump, topped with stalks of bright vermillion-red flowers from early summer until fall. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Canna 'Valentine' (Valentine Canna)

Canna x generalis 'Valentine'


Canna lily plants are worthy garden perennials for any southern garden, and with a little extra care, a great addition to gardens in northern areas too. This flowering perennial brings an exotic beauty to sunny garden sites with its showy flowers and tropical (sometimes very colorful) leaves. Go on-line today and buy one of these incredible, exotic cannas for sale. Plant it in your garden, sit back, and enjoy the show. Don't let anyone tell you that Canna are passè or hard to grow. Ignore them and just remember, "You Canna if you Wanna"!

What is the best canna for me?

  • If you want an incredible variegated Canna, try Canna 'Phasion', Canna 'Stuttgart', Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’, Canna 'Pink Sunburst', or Canna 'Thai Rainbow'.
  • For dramatic purple foliage choose Canna 'Australia', Canna 'Intrigue', Canna 'Constitution' or Canna Tropicanna Black.

Canna x generalis 'Australia'

Canna x generalis 'Minerva'

Whichever Canna lily you choose, you will get a winner.


Avent, Tony (1992), Leaves that Light up the Garden -- Variegated Plants, Originally published in the Fall 1992 issue of Fine Gardening Magazine.

Avent, Tony (1997), Gardening With Hardy Tropicals, Originally published in the News & Observer, May 24,1997.

Cooke, I (2001), The Gardeners Guide to Growing Canna, Timber Press, Portland OR

Khoshoo, T.N. & Mukherjee, I. (1970), Genetic-Evolutionary Studies on Cultivated Cannas, Theoretical and Applied Genetics, Vol. 40, Pp. 204-217.

Tanaka, N. (2001), Taxonomic revision of the family Cannaceae in the New World and Asia, Makinoa ser. 2, 1:34.43.

Tanaka, N. et. al. (2009), Karyological analysis of the genus Canna (Cannaceae), Plant Systematics and Evolution, Vol. 280(1-2), Pp. 45-51

Flowers on a green-leaved variety of canna called Panache.

Cannas lilies are great summer flowers that can be grown in containers or in the garden. Their bold foliage and exotic flowers make a big splash with little effort. Here's how to grow these tender beauties:

Originally from the West Indies and South America, cannas are one of the showiest summer bulbs you can grow. These lush tropical plants produce large — sometimes colorful — leaves, and tall flower stalks with vibrant blossoms. Depending on the variety, cannas can grow a few feet tall to more than 10 feet tall. Dwarf varieties look great in large containers combined with petunias, sweet potato vines, and other low-growing annuals. Larger varieties make a strong, elegant statement planted at the back of flower beds or grouped together in showy islands of color. Because they tolerate moist soils, cannas can also be planted along ponds or in a wet spot in the yard.

Cannas are generally grouped by leaf color. One of the most popular green-leafed varieties is City of Portland, which has soft, salmon-colored blooms. For containers, consider the dwarf cannas, which grow to about 3 feet tall. Ambassador is similar in size, but it has reddish leaves and red flowers.

Planting and Care: Because they are topical plants, cannas thrive in full sun, with plenty of summer heat and consistently moist soil. Wait until the soil has warmed and all threat of frost has passed before planting cannas outdoors. Rhizomes should be planted horizontally, 4 to 6 inches deep, and spaced 1 to 2 feet apart. For earlier flowers, cannas can be planted in pots and started indoors or in a greenhouse about one month before mild weather arrives.

Cannas grow and flower best when fertilized monthly. Keep plants well watered and weeded. Because cannas are tropical plants, they will overwinter outdoors only in frost-free areas (USDA zones 9 and 10). In most areas you'll need to dig up the tubers in fall and store them indoors. After frost kills back the foliage, dig the tubers, and store them in a cool, dark, frost-free place.

For More Information

  • Creating More Cannas: How to divide cannas that have been stored over the winter.
  • Cannas in the Garden: How to fit cannas into almost any planting scheme.
  • Easy Overwintering: How to overwinter various tropical plants, including cannas.

Watch the video: Use Cannas for Extra Drama in the Garden