We treasure all plants – some for their unique foliage and others for their spectacular flowers, but we don’t always need to compromise. If you want a plant that combines dramatic foliage with large, tropical flowers, the Canna Lily is just what you need.
Canna Lily is native to Mesoamerica. It is also known as Indian Shot, Arrowroot, or Australian Canna Lily. It can be a tad challenging to grow, but it is worth the effort. Provide it with adequate growing conditions, and it will reward you with gorgeous blooms.
The Canna Lily is the type of plant that will steal the spotlight in any garden, so read our article to find out what its growth requirements are.
About Canna Lily
- The name Canna comes from the Greek word “kanna” which means reed. The plant is referred to as Canna Lily because it produces tropical flowers that bear a strong resemblance to lilies.
- Canna Lily comes from the tropical and subtropical regions of North and South America. It can be grown in USDA zones 5 to 10. From zones 7 to 10, it can overwinter outdoors without problems. In zones 5b and 6a, the rhizomes can’t survive the winter frost. They must be dug out in fall and replanted in spring.
- Despite its name and its tropical blooms, the Canna Lily isn’t actually related to the Lily family. It belongs to the Cannaceae family which contains 10 species, out of which only the Canna produces flowers.
- Canna Lily is characterized as a monocot, a grass-like flowering plant. It is related to gingers, bananas, birds of paradise, and arrowroots.
- Some Canna varieties produce hard, round black seeds. The seeds are very dense and heavy. Legend has it that during the Indian Mutiny soldiers used these seeds when they ran out of bullets.
- Aside from being used as a weapon, Canna has had many other uses throughout history, and it continues to be used in many ways.
- The entire plant is edible. It can be eaten cooked, but young shoots can also be eaten raw. It has a high concentration of starch grain. It can be fermented and turned into alcohol and its leaves are often used to wrap food.
- Cannas are also used for weaving, making paper, and purple dye. The seeds can also be used to make jewellery, Buddhist rosaries, or even musical instruments.
- The Canna Lily is also a medicinal plant. In alternative medicine, it is often used to treat menstrual cramps as well as gonorrhoea and amenorrhoea. The root can be turned into a powder and used as a treatment for digestive problems, whereas the flowers can be effective against malaria. It western medicine, it is used to remove toxic substances in bio-remediation.
- Cannas are not susceptible to pests and common plant diseases. However, they are susceptible to a few plant viruses which can be lethal to them. Such is the case of the Canna yellow mottle virus or the bean yellow mosaic virus. Virus-infected plants can’t be cured. They must be destroyed to stop them from infecting other plants.
Canna Lily Features: An Overview
- The Canna is a tall, leafy plant that can be used in flower beds, tropical borders, and xeriscaping. It can also be grown in large containers.
- It has erect stems that grow large blooms, shaped like gladiolus. The flowers have intense shades of red, yellow, cream, pink, and orange. It is not uncommon for the flowers to be bi-colours.
- Canna Lily blooms from late June to late October. The symmetric flowers have three petals and three sepals. The petals are small and hidden under the big stamens. The stamens are the ones that are confused for petals because they are modified and very large.
- Most commercial varieties that you will find in shops have a minimum height of 50 cm and a maximum height of 2,5 meters.
- The Canna plant has large, leathery, palm-like leaves. The ovate leaves grow in an alternating pattern. Most varieties have green leaves, but others can have bronze or red-purple leaves. Green leaves with yellow stripes are also quite common. The leaves have a high ornamental value, especially during the times when the plant is not in flower.
- There are many varieties to choose from. In terms of foliage, the Canna Mystique is a spectacular variety with its red-purple leaves. Canna Striata is also eye-catching with its gold-variegated leaves. Canna Lincroft, Canna Eric Neubert, Canna Ambassador, Canna Champion, and Canna Semaphore are also popular due to their unique blooms.
- Some Canna species are aquatic plants. They have roots that allow them to survive when they are submerged in standing water. They are a great choice for container water gardens.
Growing Canna Lily
Canna Lilies can be a little picky about their growing environment, but if you provide the right conditions, they will surprise you. They need about 6-8 hours of sunlight during summer. They are fast growers and when their needs are met, they grow surprisingly big. It can be quite challenging to move them in bigger containers or transplant them outdoors.
These plants will only overwinter outdoors in sheltered gardens in mild climates. If you can’t offer them complete protection against frost, use a generous amount of mulch to keep them warm. They are sun-loving flowers, but they can also survive well in partial shade. They are hungry and thirsty plants so you don’t have to worry about overfeeding or over-watering them.
As far as pruning goes, the leathery leaves don’t need much care. Deadheading spent blooms is necessary from time to time. It will keep the flowers looking neat and it will also prolong the flowering period.
- COLOR: Pink, Red, Yellow, Gold, Orange, Apricot, White, & Maroon, all with different colored markings
- PLANT SEEDS: After danger of frost / Indoors weeks before last frost / Fall / Cold Stratify
- BLOOM TIME: Late Spring - Summer
- HARDINESS ZONE: 7 - 10
- LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Sun - Part Shade
- 20+ Mixed Canna Lily Flower Seeds Perennial Beautiful Bonsai Plant Home Garden Decor
- The flower of Cannes in height can reach 2 meters, has large oblong leaf blades, up to 50 cm in length and up to 25 in width. The color of the leaf blades can be all shades of green. The flowers are very large and have a lemon, pink color, purple shades. The most popular are these plants for growing in gardens and cottages. They are well suited for landscaping sites and areas in front of the house.
- Due to their large size they create a unique composition. But, in addition, Cannes is great for growing in the garden or at home. At home it is contained in large tubs or outdoor pots. For the cultivation of this beautiful flower in the indoor environment should be selected appropriate varieties, preferably undersized to fit in the room, on the balcony or loggia.
- Sowing seeds: Cannes seeds have a very hard shell, which must be softened before sowing. Scald the seeds with boiling water and hold them in a thermos in warm water for 3-4 hours. Or for 12 hours on a hot battery.
- Or freeze for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Seeds should be sown in February, the soil should be light, the temperature is 22-23 ºC, the room should be partial shade. Shoots appear in 3-4 weeks, and when they have 3-4 leaves, dive them into separate pots, in which they will be at a temperature of 16 ºC before planting in the ground. Some seedlings can bloom this year, and some will bloom only next year.
- Canna Lily (Canna Indica) is grown as a perennial in USDA Zones 8 - 11. This tall flower reaches up to 48 inches in height and grows best in full sun.
- This Canna Lily mix, also known as Indian Shot will have blooms of bright yellow, orange, and red from late spring to mid fall. Cut old spent flowers and seed pods to encourage repeated flowering late into the autumn season.
- Canna seed is one of the largest flower seeds you will find. It is best to soak the flower seeds for 24 - 48 hours before planting to soften the seed coat. For even faster germination, file or nick the Canna Lily seeds before planting.
- Sow these heirloom seeds at 1 - 2 seeds per plant in well-drained soil and keep moist until germination occurs in 8 - 12 days.
- All seeds sold by Outsidepride are non-gmo and are intended for the current & the following growing season. All flower seeds are produced from open pollinated plants.
Planting Canna Lily
Canna Lilies will grow better if they are planted in fertile, moisture-retentive soil. The best time for planting Cannas is in April or May when there is no longer the risk of frost. You should start with the rhizomes in medium-sized pots. If there are shoots on the rhizomes, make sure to keep them above ground. Keep the pots indoors or in a heated greenhouse. Water them rigorously and they should flower in their first year.
You can also buy potted plants and plant them outdoors during the summer. Make sure to improve the moisture-retaining properties of your soil. A slow-release fertilizer will also be great when transplanting potted plants outdoors.
Watering Canna Lily
The biggest mistake you can make with a Canna Lily is to let its soil dry. Canna lilies should be watered at least once per day. It depends on the saturation of the soil, but they need about 7 litres of water per week. During the hot summer days, you should water them every other day. It is best to always check the soil and keep it moist at all times.
While Canna lilies like their soil moist, soggy soil is not ideal. Over-watering soil without proper drainage will lead to the development of fungi and other diseases.
Propagating Canna Lily
You can propagate Canna Lilies from seed or through division. The seeds are produced by sexual reproduction. For most species, the same plant can act as both seed parent and pollen.
Growing Canna from seed is a tad more challenging, and there is always the risk that the new plants will not be true to the mother plant. If you want to take on this challenge, sow the seeds indoors around the middle of February. You should soak the seeds in water for a day to soften them and improve their chances of germination.
Next, sprinkle the seeds on a germination medium and cover them lightly with soil. Water them well, let the medium drain, and cover them with plastic wrap. You should see the seedlings in about two weeks. Remove the plastic wrap when the seedlings pop from the soil and place them in a sunny window until they get stronger. Harden them for about a week before transplanting them outdoors.
Propagating Canna Lilies through division is easier and it ensures that you will get the same plant. The division must be done in spring. Simply take the plant out of the soil and use a sharp tool to remove sections of rhizomes with at least two growing points. Make sure the risk of frost has completely passed before dividing the plants.
As you can see, Canna Lilies are a great way to add a tropical vibe to your garden. Not only are they great for xeriscaping, but they can be easily integrated into any garden design. They will look great on the middle or in the last row of a tropical border, but also containers.
Outdoors, Canna Lilies can get along well with many other plants. The best companions are ornamental grasses. You can also plant them in mixed containers. Combine them with dahlias or nasturtiums to obtain a versatile flower arrangement.
Canna Lilies are sometimes considered challenging because they are thirsty plants. They also need plenty of sunshine and they must be protected in winter. If you live in an environment that is naturally suitable for them, all you must do is water them regularly. In turn, you will be rewarded with tropical eye-catching flowers.
Are you growing Canna Lilies? Share your experience in the comment section!