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Growing Cannas

Growing Cannas

South Pacific Scarlet Hybrid Canna



Cannas are tender perennial plants with a tropical appearance. They are hardy in zones 7 to 10 and often grown as annuals or dug for winter storage in cold climates. Cannas have attractive flowers and many varieties also have colorful leaves. They are good for background plantings and screening, specimen plants, and in containers.

How To Grow

Cannas have historically been grown from their bulb-like, thick rhizomes. However, new breeding has developed varieties that can be grown from seed, like the South Pacific series.

Plant outside in spring 4 to 6 inches deep after all chance of frost has passed. Flowers attract hummingbirds.

For seed propagated varieties, sow seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in spring. Plant the seed half and inch to an inch deep and germinate at 75 to 85 degrees. Expect germination in 7 to 14 days.


Plant cannas in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Where it is hardy, divide and replant every 3 to 5 years. Remove stems after flowers fade.

To overwinter cannas in cold winter areas, cut plants back to the ground in fall before the first frost and dig up the rhizomes. Store them in dry peat or vermiculite in a cool place that won't freeze. Another option for potted cannas is to bring containers inside and keep them in a frost free spot.

Fertilizer Recommendations

Plants are moderate feeders and benefit from regular fertilization. Use full rates of

ALGOplus Flowering Plant 4-6-7 liquid fertilizer, Neptune Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 2-3-1, or Osmocote slow-release 14-14-14.

Common Problems

Cannas are usually easy-to-grow and not troubled by problems. Plants can suffer from rhizome rot in poorly-drained or overly wet soils. Japanese beetle, caterpillars, slugs, and snails occasionally attack plants.

Alternative Products

Alocasia and colocasia are other tender perennials with a tropical look.

Product Recommendations

Use Sluggo Plus slug bait (50190) if slugs or snails are a problem. Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew can be used to control insect pests.

Canna Facts

Although sometimes referred to as "canna lily" it is not a true lily. It is in the family Cannaceae, which contains only canna species. Cannas are related to bananna and ginger. Canna species are native to Central and South America, and most garden varieties are hybrids developed by crossing several species.


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