Exotic Canna Are Surprisingly Easy to Grow

cannas growing on a sunny hillside
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Exotic Canna Are Surprisingly Easy to Grow

Beautiful, Beneficial and Tropical: Canna Has It All

Add a tropical touch to your outdoor space with lush green foliage that bursts with color and life with the breathtaking beauty of canna lily plants. Let’s unveil the wonders of gardening with canna. From their flashy blooms to their invaluable role in supporting pollinators, canna lilies are an essential addition to any garden, landscape, or container setup.

Understanding Canna

Canna, also referred to as Canna Lily, belongs to the genus of flowering plants native to tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. These majestic plants are renowned for their magnificent, showy oragne, yellow, and red blooms and luxuriant foliage, making them a popular choice among gardeners seeking to add a touch of exotic appeal their outdoor spaces. Because cannas are native to tropical areas, gardeners in cooler zones (usually Zone 7 and colder, but check the plant details) can lift and store the bulbs to plant again next season.

The Basics of Growing Canna Lilies

Ideal Growing Conditions: Canna lilies flourish in full sun to partial shade and prefer well-drained, fertile soil. They're suited for a wide range of climates, but in cooler zones, lifting and storing your canna rhizomes (similar to bulbs) over winter will ensure they thrive year after year. Space your cannas 12 to 18 inches apart to allow for proper growth and airflow.

Watering and Fertilization: Regular watering is key to keeping cannas looking their best, especially during periods of drought. A balanced fertilizer applied every 4-6 weeks during the growing season will support vigorous growth and prolific blooming.

Learn more about how to grow canna lilies in our Canna Care Guide

Companion Plants for Canna Lilies

Cannas are incredibly versatile in the garden. Companion plants like ornamental grass, like miscanthus or pennisetum, add dramatic height for a striking backdrop, or interplant them with compact annuals like marigolds or verbena for a stunning contrast in color and texture. Their bold foliage is an excellent foliage addition to delicate ferns or as vibrant companions to other tropical plants like hibiscus and coleus, to create visually stunning garden compositions.

Benefits to Pollinators

One of the most remarkable advantages of growing cannas is their role in supporting pollinators. The nectar-rich flowers of cannas act as a beacon, attracting beneficial insects like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. By incorporating cannas into your garden, you will enhance your garden’s beauty while contributing to the vitality and sustainability of local pollinator populations.

Canna Lily: A Feast for the Senses

Gardening with canna is a sensory composition that tantalizes the senses and soothes the soul. The vibrant colors of canna blooms span a warm color spectrum from fiery reds and oranges to sunny yellows and soft pinks that add a virtual explosion of color and vitality to your outdoor space. Not to mention the sweet, tropical fragrance cannas emit, creating an enchanting ambiance that promotes relaxation and tranquility.

Relaxation and Tranquility

Beyond their visual and olfactory benefits, cannas give a sense of serenity and harmony in the garden. There's something inherently therapeutic about tending to these graceful plants, whether you're gently pruning their foliage or admiring their blooms swaying in the breeze. Gardening with cannas offers a respite from the stresses of daily life, fostering a connection with nature and nurturing a sense of well-being.

Famous Gardens Growing Canna Lilies

Botanic gardens worldwide, such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York, have showcased canna lilies in their collections. These gardens often feature canna displays that highlight their diversity and beauty, serving as inspiration for home gardeners.

Variety of Canna Lilies to Grow

Because of their wide range of cultivars, gardeners can find just the right canna lily to grow to suit their preferences and space constraints. Whether you’re drawn to compact varieties suitable for containers or towering specimens for borders and focal points, there's a canna variety for you. From the fiery reds of 'Canna Australia' to the striking variegated foliage of 'Tropicanna Gold,' there's a variety to captivate any gardener. These selections not only bring a burst of color but also vary in size, from compact forms ideal for containers to grand specimens that command attention in borders and beds.

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Canna Tropicanna® Gold Bulb
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Canna Tropicanna® Black Bulb

Propagation and Maintenance

Propagating cannas is relatively straightforward and can be achieved through bulb division or seed sowing. Dividing established clumps in early spring allows you to multiply your canna collection and rejuvenate older plants. Or you can collect seeds from mature seed pods and sow them indoors before your area’s last expected frost date. As for maintenance, cannas benefit from regular deadheading to promote continuous blooming and occasional grooming to remove spent foliage and encourage fresh growth.

Gardening with canna bulbs has benefits for gardeners and the environment. From their resplendent blooms and verdant foliage to their vital role in supporting pollinators, cannas are an indispensable asset to any outdoor space.