Perennial Bulbs Overview: Canna Lilies

Perennial Bulbs Overview-Canna Lillies l www.sophisticatedgardening.comDiscover how to grow Canna Lilies with instructions on starting seed, transplanting, site selection, care and maintenance, water and fertilization requirements, and  pests and diseases.

Canna Lilies Garden Guide

In this guide you will find:
Canna Lilies Stats at a Glance
Planting Instructions
Canna Lilies Care and Maintenance
Canna Lilies Diseases
Canna Lilies Pests


Canna Lilies Stats at a Glance

Botanical Name: Canna sp.

Common Names: Canna, Indian shot

Height: 3-8 feet

Soil Conditions:  Well-drained, moist, fertile soil

Sun: Full sun

Soil pH Conditions: 6.1-7.5

Planting Instructions

When Do I Plant Canna Lilies?

Canna Lilies are cold sensitive and should not be planted until after the last frost and the soil has reached at least 68°F.  They will germinate much more quickly in warmer soil.  You can hasten the warming of the soil with black plastic mulch.

Soil Temperature: 68°F


Where Do I Plant Canna Lilies?

Canna Lilies plants perform best in loamy, moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter situated in full sun. Incorporating several inches of organic matter into the soil when preparing the bed will improve growth and development.

Soil Type: Well-drained, fertile, moist
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil pH: 6.1-7.5


How Do I Plant Canna Lilies?

Direct planting.  To plant rhizomes directly in the garden, dig a hole 6” deep.  Plant one rhizome per hole in a horizontal position with the eye facing skyward.  Cover with a few inches of soil.

If you overwintered your bulbs from the prior year, you can start them indoors 6-8 weeks prior to planting out of doors.  Once you retrieve your roots from storage, discard any rotted or damaged sections.

You will need to cut the rhizomes into sections that contain one healthy root and one healthy eye.  Let these new pieces dry out for a day before planting.  Give each root its own container.


Division. You can divide your canna lilies using the same method as above.


Can I Start Canna Lilies Indoors?

If you want earlier blooms, start your canna lilies indoors.  Canna lilies require fertile soil, moisture, good drainage, and plenty of room to grow, so choose your planting container accordingly.

Choose a pot that is at least 6” around and has plenty of drainage holes.  Line the bottom of the pot with pebbles and place on a saucer.  Fill the pot with a fertile commercial soil.  Plant the rhizome at a depth of about 3”, laying it horizontally with its eye facing up. Water thoroughly allowing any excess water to drain into the saucer.  Move to a warm, sunny location.  Keep the soil moist by watering from the bottom through the saucer.

Fertilize at least once with a 10-10-10 fertilizer.


When to Start Seeds: 6-8 weeks prior to planting
Time to Germination: 10-20 days
Light/Darkness Requirements: Dark
Optimal Temp. for Germination: 75-80°F


How Far Apart Do I Plant Canna Lilies?

To ensure good air circulation, space Canna lilies 18-24” apart.

Canna Lilies Plant Care and Maintenance

How Often Should I Water Canna Lilies?

The key to watering Canna Lilies is to maintain a consistent moisture level.  The soil should be moist to a depth of 6”.  Leaves begin to curl if they are too dry.

Water the soil around the plant. Overhead watering will encourage disease.  Drip irrigation is best.

Mulch around the plant will help to lock in moisture.


Should I Fertilize Canna Lilies?

Fertilizing decisions should be based on a soil test.  If a soil test cannot be obtained you can fertilize your perennial bulbs will likely benefit from a once a month feeding with granular bulb fertilizer.  Fertilize more frequently (every other week) if using a water-soluble fertilizer.

Fertilize the soil around the plant at least 6” from the plant base. Irrigate into the soil.


Additional Care Instructions

Deadhead spent flowers to encourage continual blooming.

Can Canna Lilies Overwinter

As a tender perennial, canna lilies will not survive cold harsh winters.  If you want to save your flowers to replant next year, you will need to dig them up and store them for the winter.  When the foliage begins to die back following the first frost of the season, cut back the stems.  Gently loosen the soil around the clump of roots and remove from the soil.

Place the unwashed roots in a mesh bag filled with moist (not wet) peat moss and hang it in a dark, cool location.  Pack them lightly so that they receive good air circulation.  The peat moss should not be allowed to dry out or freeze during storage.

Canna Lilies Diseases

The most common diseases associated with this plant include bacterial blight, bean yellow mosaic virus, fungal leaf spot, rust, and tomato spotted root virus.

Canna Lilies Pests

The most common pests associated with this plant include slugs, snails, and spider mites.

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