Canna 'Large Flowered Hybrids' create an undeniably tropical look, producing large flowers in hot colours in yellow, gold, fiery orange and red. With their lush tropical foliage and showy flowers they make borders and beds come alive with their bright colours all summer long until first frosts.
Although originally a plant of the tropics, most cultivars have been developed in temperate climates and are easy to grow in most countries of the world as long as they can enjoy at least 6 to 8 hours average sunlight during the summer.
Leaf colour varies from green to deep maroon. As the flower grows, a good hint will be that if the leaf is more green then the flower will be more yellow. If the leaf is more maroon then the flower will be more red. If the leaf is mixed colours then the flower will be pretty amazing.
Use this Canna to create an undeniably tropical look, even where there's frost. Add to existing beds and borders for dramatic, long lasting foliage colour and contrasting form or texture.
The plants grow to around 120cm (48in). They are a favourite of modern garden designers and a natural beside pools and water gardens. They are also excellent in pots on porch, patio, terrace and balcony.
Canna have a very hard seed – hence their common name “Indian Shot”!
The key to success is to chip or nick the seed-coat to expose the creamy-white inner and to allow water penetration. Without this, seeds may not germinate at all. Use a sharp craft knife, or a file, (watch out for your fingers!)
Chipped seeds should then be soaked overnight in tepid water until they swell to around 50% bigger than the dry size.
Sowing: Sow at any time of year.
It is best to put each seed in its own pot because the new roots are very fragile and prone to tangling. if you have access to a propagator or heated greenhouse. If you are growing in a warm room, don't sow too early, unless you can provide heat and light to keep the young plants growing nicely through till May, when you will be able to plant outside.
Seeds can be sown four to a 10cm (4in) pot using normal peat-based compost. Sow 12mm (½in) deep and water well. A temperature of 24 to 27°C (75 to 80°F) is needed for germination. Germination takes 10 to 20 days and if the temperature is maintained and adequate bright light provided, growth of the young plants can be rapid.
As soon as the plants are about 15cm (6in) high and there is good root-growth, the plants can be potted on into 15cm (6in) pots using compost with a little added well-rotted manure or slow-release fertiliser granules.
Cannas are very greedy plants and respond well to heavy feeding during the growth period. Fertilise with granular fertiliser and/or with a hose-end sprayer with water soluble fertilizer (e.g. Miracle Gro) after plants start to grow and every two weeks thereafter.
Put the pots outside after danger of frost (usually first week of May) to allow plants to adjust to the outdoors.
Cannas are easy to grow but the bed must be well-fertilised as the plant is a voracious feeder and a strong grower, and all flowering plants respond well to a good soil environment.
The beds must be dug to a good depth, up to 30cm (12in) at least, and mixed with an appreciable amount of well-rotted organic manure or compost. If possible, make raised beds up to 12cm (5in) high.
Anytime after mid-May, plant in full sun in a rich soil with good drainage. Space at least 30cm (12in) apart, this is considered the optimum distance although they can be planted up to 24in (60cm) apart depending on the effect desired. Any closer would mean your plants are fighting for survival at the expense of flowering. In a few months, a single plant would have multiplied to a small clump.
Though drought tolerant, Canna do thrive when well-watered. For best results, Canna should be soaked every day during the hot days of July and August.
Weed, manure and water the soil regularly. Mulching around the base of plants and beds is a good practice; this will keep weed growth in check and conserve soil moisture so that the roots are kept cool.
Each plant will produce several shoots of flowers, one after the next. After a flower shoot has died, cut the shoot towards the stalk for appearance and to promote growth of new shoots. All spent flowering stems must be cut right to the soil level. Only then will the new vigorous suckers have the chance for vigorous growth. Dress the Canna beds regularly with organic compost or well rotted manure once every six to eight weeks.
As Cannas begin to die back at the end of the season, potted plants can be brought indoors. Cut the tops off outdoor plants and lift and clean the corms. They should be stored dry in darkness (the same as with Dahlias) at 10°C (50°F) until the following spring. In March, take the clumps from each box, remove remaining soil, and break or cut the rhizome into sections, each containing at least 3 "eyes" (prominent red buds). Single-eye divisions may survive but will take longer to produce a vigorous new plant.
Each clump will yield four or more new rhizomes. The tubers should be planted 12cm (5in) deep and 30 to 45 (12 to 18in) apart
Canna beds should be replanted every year. Cut off the old roots from the dug-up rhizomes. Trim off the dead roots, retaining only the strong vigorous portions with an upright stem. When you replant or open the old Canna beds the beds may need to be lined with dolomite or magnesium lime to counteract the acidity built-up in the soil through the constant use of organic matter or compost.
City/Courtyard Gardens, Flowers Borders and Beds, or Sub-tropical.
Without exception, all Canna species that have been introduced into Europe can be traced back to the Americas. If Asia and Africa provided some of the early introductions, they were only varieties resulting from C. indica and C. glauca cultivars that have been grown for a long time in India and Africa, with both species imported from Central and South America.
The genus name canna comes from the Greek "kanna" and the Celtic "cana" which refers to "a reed-like plant" and is also the root of the musical term "canon". The name canna was applied to this genus as early as 1576 and was formally given to the genus by Linnaeus in his seminal work Species Plantarum.
Canna was once called Indian shot because its rock hard, perfectly round seed was used as a substitute for lead shot in muzzle loading guns.
The thick seed coat allows Canna seed to survive for a very long time. In 1969, Canna indica seed was found in a 550-year-old archaeological dig in Argentina and was successfully germinated. The reason that the seed coat may be so thick is that fire plays a part in Canna seed germination in its native habitat. In the wild, canna seed germinates best in places burned by fire, which not only weakens the seed coat, but destroys any competition for the emerging Canna seedling.
Canna is the only genus in the family Cannaceae. Canna (or Canna lily, although not a true lily) is a genus of nineteen species of flowering plants. The closest living relations to cannas are the other plant families of the order Zingiberales, that is the gingers, bananas, marantas, heliconias, strelitzias, etc.
The first Cannas introduced to Europe were C. indica L., which was imported from the East Indies, though the species originated from the Americas. Charles de l'Ecluse, who first described and sketched C. indica indicates this origin, and states that it was given the name of indica, not because the plant is from India, in Asia, but because this species was originally transported from America: "Quia ex America primum delata sit". At that time, one described the tropical areas of that part of the globe as the Western Indies.
Canna are remarkably free of disease, compared to many genera. However, they may fall victim to canna rust, a fungus resulting in orange spots on the plant's leaves, caused by over moist soil. Cannas are also susceptible to certain plant viruses, some of which are Canna specific viruses, which may result in spotted or streaked leaves, in a mild form, but can finally result in stunted growth and twisted and distorted blooms and foliage.
Collect seeds from flowers each year and, should your plants fall victim to the disease, burn infected plants at the end of the season.
However, if your Canna look ratty during the summer, that's a sure sign that an extra shovel of manure is required. Remember, as long as you are using organics, it is impossible to over-fertilise a Canna!
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 5 seeds / gram Genus Canna Species x hybrida Cultivar Large Flowered Hybrids Common Name Canna Lily Hardiness Tender Perennial Flowers Hot colours: yellow, gold, fiery orange and red. Natural Flower Time Summer through to frosts. Height 120cm (48in) Spacing 30-60m (12-24in) Position Full sun preferred for best flowering. Soil As long as you are using organics, it is impossible to over-fertilise a Canna! Time to Sow January to March for summer flowering, or November for May flowering. Germination 10 to 20 days