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Thursday, August 23, 2007


Cannas are almost a required feature of a mid-Atlantic tropical landscape. A native of the Americas, its natural range extends as far north as South Carolina. There are many cultivars, making a wide variety of leaf, stalk, flower colors, and plant heights available.

Cannas have a rhizome and will grow quite well in most soils, though as with most flowering plants the more organic material in the soil the better. Care for Cannas is similar to similar to that of bananas: they are heavy feeders and appreciate being given fertilizer periodically, and will do best with a couple deep waterings a week. The rhizome will grow each year resulting in more and more stalks.

In Virginia the rhizomes do not need to be dug up for the winter, once the stalk dies back after the first few frosts, cut it off and put a couple inches of mulch over the area. New stalks will pop up the next year!

As you can see, my cannas have not produced flowers yet as they were started late. I planted a variety of cannas rhizomes, though I planted more of the common Cleopatras than any other variety because I like the variegation of the leaves and the yellow and red flowers. I recommend buying bare rhizomes rather than potted cannas. They grow fast, so why pay a premium for a few weeks of growth?

Cannas are an excellent companion to bananas (Musas), and are a wonderful addition to any tropical setting!


Doug in Mount Vernon said...

Yours reemerge? If I don't dig mine out they will not come back, and I live in NoVA as well. I think maybe its that my soils are very clay and wet in the winter, not very favorable for cannas that don't like wet feet.

You have good draining soils?

Broadside said...

Actually I have terrible clay soil! Most of my cannas are planted at the top of a slope which helps with drainage, but I mix in sand and compost before I put the rhizomes in so that they do not stay wet. The flip side is I have to water them constantly!