Planting Guide - Canna Lily Bulbs
Preparing Canna Lillies for Next Season
In climates that are warm year round, Callas can remain in the ground and given a dose of fertilizer in the spring to start the growing process over again. Frost will kill them during the cooler months, but if you mulch with straw, old leaves or other organic matter in the fall, your cannas should come back with vibrant new foliage and flowers the following spring. In climates where the ground freezes hard in the winter, you may dig up your plants in the fall. After the first frost, let them air dry for a few days and try storing your bulbs in a cool dry place (in a paper bag or a box filled with peat moss). You may get lucky and manage to preserve the bulbs for next spring planting.
Canna Lilies in Your Garden
While typically grown as annuals in cooler regions, canna lilies can color the garden year after year in zones that support consistent higher temperatures. Canna lilies are low maintenance and easy to grow, giving any garden that wonderfully tropical feel.
When & How to Plant Canna Lily Bulbs
In the North, start your Canna bulbs (rhizomes) indoors about six weeks before your last frost in pots of good, rich potting soil. The pots should be in a warm, sunny area and kept well-watered. The Canna bulbs may also be planted directly in the ground after the last frost when the ground is warm, but they may be slow to start growth and late to bloom. In frost-free areas, the bulbs can be planted at any time. While a frost may kill all the foliage in some areas cooler than zone 8, Canna bulbs will survive underground if protected with mulch.
Cannas will grow almost anywhere, as a perennial in the South and a summer flowering plant whose bulbs can be easily lifted and stored in the North. Choose a spot in your garden that receives full sunlight. Although considered tropical plants, cannas actually do well in more temperate climates that receive at least six hours of sunlight per day in the summertime. The Canna bulbs should be planted in a location where the soil drains well. Unlike most bulbs, cannas can thrive in moist soils but will not tolerate standing in water puddles.
For outdoor planting, dig holes that are 4 to 6 inches deep, and 2 feet apart for tall varieties and 1 foot for the others smaller cultivars. Then dig in a little peat moss and perlite. For planting in pots, fill a large pot to within 6 inches of the top with a well-draining potting mix into which you have added a little peat moss and perlite. Place one bulb into each hole. Technically, canna bulbs do not have a top or a bottom. Plant the bulb, or rhizome, horizontally with the eyes facing up. If your pot is large, you can plant two or three canna bulbs in each pot. Backfill your pot or hole with additional soil until the bulb and roots are well covered. Gently pat down the dirt around the base. Water your new plant well and expect it to begin sending out new leaves and, when the weather is warm, flowers.
Once established, cannas need to be kept moist. Fertilizing monthly with a fertilizer high in phosphate will aid in continued blooms.