How to Grow Cannas

CC Flickr photo courtesy of Sids1.

Cannas, although not a true lily, is remarkably similar to the lily. Consisting of nineteen species, the cannas plant has a large amount of foliage naturally. Horticulturists have bred the flower into the modern version we have today with large, bright flowers. These exotic plants commonly grow up to five feet but giant varieties are known to grow up to ten feet tall.

Growing Requirements for Cannas

Cannas require at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day. They bloom during the summer season and prefer rich, well-drained soil. The flower has also been known to flourish in sandy soils due to their tropical origins. In more temperate climates, the flower pot should be submerged up to an inch. High winds can easily tear the leaves so they should be planted in areas that are well protected. Greenhouse environments are usually the best for this plant.

Taking Care of Cannas

Cannas are not overly picky about their care requirements. One to two fertilization treatments should be enough to keep the soil rich in necessary nutrients and minerals. The soil should be kept relatively moist but not too moist as this could cause damage to the roots and even cause diseases. During dry weather they should be watered at minimum once a week. Spent flowers should be removed in order to promote continuous blooms during the season.

History and Uses of Cannas

Cannas are an exotic flower that originated in the Americas, first making its way to the East Indies and then to Europe. These flowers began appearing in European gardens in the 1860s.

The cannas plant has many uses. The seeds have been used as beads in jewelry and in a musical instrument from Zimbabwe. The plant is also very high in starch and can be used to produce alcohol and tortillas. The starch from this plant is also used in many other foodstuffs.

Common Cannas Diseases and Pests

Cannas are not normally bothered by insects but have been known to be infested by what is called the Canna Leaf Roller, which damages the leaf. The bug isn’t fatal to the plant itself but gardeners find the damage unpleasant. Slugs and snails can also wreak havoc on leaves.

Diseases are also not very common placed with cannas. However, when they do occur, it is mostly in the form of the fungal disease, Canna Rust. This manifests itself as orange spots on the leaves and is thought to occur from overly moist soil.

Treatments of insecticide and fungicide can usually resolve any issues.

Additional Information on Cannas

Additional Information on cannas can be found on the following websites:

Details on cannas in home gardens can be found in the pdf provided by Iowa State University.

Details on the cannas’ starch supply can be found in this pdf provided by the Food Ingredients Organization of Japan.

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