How to Grow Canna
Canna are a rhizomatous tender perennial with attractive green,
bronze, bronzy orange, rich scarlet, purple or striped foliage that come as dwarf, medium and tall plants with a wide range flower
colours from pale cream, lemon, apricot-pink, white, gold to vivid yellow, orange, red, scarlet and deep crimson. The flowers may be
fringed, striped or self-coloured.
The tall forms make good subjects for the larger tropical garden or
by the pool and are often grown for their leaf colour. "Tropicanna"
for example has deep crimson leaves striped in deep green to black that often appear luminescent when caught by the light. "Bengal
Tiger" with it's green and yellow striped leaves is another canna commonly used to give a jungle look to a garden.
Canna x generalise is the name given to the many canna x hybrid
cultivars available that are often grown in tropical beds or along a driveway where they are grouped into one colour. In the general
garden canna can be skilfully blended into a border or used as a foliage backdrop plant. Look for cultivars with golden striped
foliage to add colour contrast for borders or bedding schemes. Cannas
do well in tubs or large containers where they look good with low growing foliage plants.
Although cannas are hardy they do best in areas with consistently
warm summers. They grow well in semi-shade but produce the best displays when grown in full sun.
Plants can be obtained from a nursery, grown from seed or from root
division if you know someone with plants to spare. Plant in a rich humus soil about 45-60 cm (18-24 inches) apart in a bed that has be
well dug over and heavily manured and fertilised.
To grow from seed I have found it best to chip the seeds then soak in
tepid water for 24 hours before placing the seeds singularly into pots. Keep in a warm place until germinated then transplant out into
Plants can quickly become overcrowded with the soil may no longer
able to support them. This can cause the flowers and stems to both grow progressively smaller. To maintain vigorously growing plants
with strong stems and large flowers remove stems at ground level and divide clumps in spring every second year. Discard old rhizome root
stock and replant only those with strong young shoots.
After the first year's flowering cut back all the stems to ground
level and give the soil a good topdressing of well decayed stable (or animal) manure in which there is plenty of straw (if you can obtain
it) otherwise use well-prepared compost. As soon as the growth resumes again give a dressing of balanced
In subtropical or warmly temperate areas cannas will flower for most
of the year. Remember to water well in dry weather and keep on eye out for slugs and snails who enjoy dining on the leaves and flowers.
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