Guide: Steps to Successfully Cultivate Canna Lilies in Your Garden


Canna lilies, also known as cannas, are stunning flowering plants that are usually grown for their vibrant blooms and tropical foliage. They are relatively easy to grow and can provide a splash of color to your garden, whether it is a container garden or a landscape planting.

To successfully grow cannas, you should plant them in a sunny location where they can receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. The soil should be well-draining and rich in organic matter. Canna lilies are hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11, although they can be grown in colder regions with proper care.

Preparing the soil for cannas is an important step in the planting process. Before planting, it is best to amend the soil with compost to improve its fertility and drainage. While cannas can tolerate a wide range of soil types, they prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil pH.

When planting cannas, space the bulbs or rhizomes at least one to two feet apart, depending on the variety. The rhizomes should be positioned horizontally with the eyes facing up. Planting them too deep can delay their emergence, so only cover them with about an inch of soil.

Canna lilies require regular watering to thrive, especially during dry periods. Water them deeply once a week, or more frequently during hot and dry weather. However, be cautious not to overwater them, as this can lead to root rot. Providing a layer of mulch around the plants can help conserve moisture in the soil.

Fertilizing cannas is essential for their growth and blooming success. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Apply the fertilizer once a month during the growing season, from spring to fall. This will help promote healthy foliage and abundant blooms.

Canna lilies will typically grow in clumps, and the stems can reach heights of three to six feet, depending on the variety. If desired, you can prune back the stems to maintain a more compact and tidy appearance. This can often result in the production of more flowers and lush foliage.

In areas where cannas are not hardy and experience frost, they will need to be dug up and stored for the winter. After the first frost, cut back the foliage to a couple of inches above the ground. Carefully dig up the rhizomes and gently brush off any excess soil. Store the rhizomes in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as a basement or garage. Be sure to label the stored rhizomes for easy identification come spring.

Canna lilies are a great choice for adding drama and color to your garden. Whether grown in containers or in the ground, they can provide a stunning focal point or a vibrant accent. With proper care and maintenance, cannas can thrive and bring beauty to your outdoor space.

“The caring of cannas is not difficult, but it is important to know how to carry them to success.”

So, if you’re planning to grow cannas in your garden, be sure to provide them with the right conditions, such as a sunny location and well-draining soil. Also, remember to fertilize them monthly and prune them back if needed. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy the dramatic blooms and lush foliage of cannas all season long.

Yes, growing cannas can be a rewarding experience, and with the right care and maintenance, you can enjoy their beauty year after year. So, why wait? Start preparing your garden and potting up some cannas for a stunning display!



Cannas are versatile plants that can be found in a variety of climates. They are known for their vibrant flowers and their large leaves, which can make a dramatic statement in any garden. Cannas grow from rhizomes, which can be planted in the early spring or late fall, depending on the zone you are in.

In general, cannas prefer well-draining soil and should be planted in a sunny location. They can tolerate some shade, but they will not bloom as well in these conditions. Cannas should be planted in clumps, with the rhizomes spaced about 1 to 2 feet apart. This creates a fuller display of flowers and provides a better backdrop for the larger varieties.

Once planted, cannas require minimal care. They are relatively drought-tolerant, but they will still benefit from regular watering, especially during dry periods. Cannas should be watered deeply, ensuring that the water reaches the roots of the plant. During the growing season, it is also important to fertilize cannas with a balanced fertilizer to promote healthy growth and flowering.

Cannas can be prone to freeze damage in colder climates. If you live in an area where the ground freezes, it is best to dig up the rhizomes before the first freeze and store them over the winter. Once the danger of frost has passed, the rhizomes can be planted again and will quickly begin to grow.

To care for cannas after they have bloomed, you can remove the spent flowers to encourage new flower growth. The leaves of the cannas can be pruned back in the fall to create a neater appearance, but this is not necessary for the health of the plant. Cannas can also be divided every few years to create new plants.

In colder climates, cannas can be grown as annuals or can be dug up and stored for the winter. In warmer climates, cannas can be grown as perennials and will come back year after year. With their vibrant flowers and striking foliage, cannas are a great addition to any garden.

About Cannas

Cannas, also known as Canna lilies or Canna musifolia, are tropical plants that are grown for their dramatic foliage and stunning blooms.

These plants are native to tropical and subtropical climates and thrive in areas with plenty of heat and moisture.

Canna lilies can be grown in the ground or in pots, making them versatile options for any garden or landscape.

They are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance once established.

Cannas are known for their large, colorful flowers that appear above the foliage. The flowers can be red, orange, yellow, or pink, and they bloom in the summer and early fall.

The canna bulbs, or rhizomes, are the part of the plant that is planted. They should be placed in the ground or in a pot with the eyes facing up.

When planting cannas, it is important to choose a location that receives full sun, as they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive.

They also prefer fertile, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.

Cannas are generally hardy in zones 7-11, but they can be grown in colder climates as well with some extra care.

If you live in an area where frost is a concern, it is recommended to plant cannas after the last frost date in your area.

In colder climates, cannas can be dug up and stored indoors during the winter months to protect them from freezing temperatures.

Cannas are relatively pest and disease resistant, but they can sometimes be affected by common garden pests such as aphids or spider mites.

To prevent pests, it is important to keep the plants healthy by providing them with the right growing conditions and regular maintenance.

Pruning canna plants can be done at any time, but it is usually best to do so in the spring before the new growth begins.

Remove any dead or damaged stems and thin out the foliage to allow more airflow and light to reach the plant.

If you are growing cannas in pots, be sure to choose a large enough container with good drainage.

When potting cannas, use a well-draining potting mix and water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist.

Canna lilies can be used as a focal point in the garden or as a backdrop for other plants. Their tall, dramatic foliage makes them excellent accents in any landscape.

Cannas have the potential to grow up to 6 feet tall, so it is important to plan accordingly and give them enough space to reach their full potential.

With the right care and attention, cannas can provide years of beauty and success in your garden.

For a step-by-step guide on how to grow cannas, visit our How to Grow Canna Lilies page.

After the first freeze, cut back the canna lily stems to about 4-6 inches, and they will go dormant for the cool weather and begin to store energy for the next growing season. Though cannas are typically hardy in USDA zones 8-10, they can be left in the ground in colder zones with some extra precautions. Visit our page on how to protect cannas over the winter for more tips on how to ensure their safety during colder times.

If you live in a colder zone, you can dig up your cannas and store them in a cool garage or basement for the winter. This is especially important if you have planted newer or more tropical varieties that are less hardy. Start by digging a trench around the plantings, about a foot away from the stems. Then, use a shovel to lift the clump of cannas out of the ground, taking care not to damage the roots.

Before storing the cannas, trim back any dead or damaged leaves. Then, divide the clump into smaller sections, making sure that each section has at least one healthy stem and a few roots. Gently shake off any excess soil, but be careful not to remove too much, as the cannas need the nutrients stored in the root ball to sustain them over the winter.

Next, place the divided sections in an open container filled with slightly moist peat moss or a well-draining potting mix. Store the container in a cool, dark place (around 40-50°F or 4-10°C) where the temperature remains relatively constant. Check on the cannas monthly to ensure they aren’t drying out, and lightly water them if needed. With proper care and storage, your cannas should be ready to be replanted in the spring.

If you’re interested in propagating your cannas or learning more about their care, read our article on how to propagate canna lilies. This method can be a fun and rewarding way to increase your collection and share the beauty of these bold, colorful flowers with others.


Pruning and Cutting Back Canna

In winter, it is recommended to cut back canna lilies for success in growing them again next season. Canna lilies are hardy and can grow consistently when properly pruned and cared for. When the first touch of frost hits, it is better to cut back the foliage rather than leaving them as is. If you live in an area where canna lilies are not hardy, it is best to store the rhizomes for the winter.

Start by using a shovel to gently dig up the canna lily bulb. Remove any excess soil and moss from the rhizomes. If there are any diseased areas, cut them off with a clean and sharp tool. Consider placing the rhizomes in a garage or cool and dry area for the winter months.

If you are growing a variety of canna lilies, each may have slightly different pruning requirements. Some varieties, such as Canna musifolia or the Tropicanna canna lily, may require more pruning than others. Refer to a pruning guide for the specific characteristics of each variety.

When the growing season starts again, it is important to prune any dead or damaged stems from the canna lily. Trim the leaves back to about 4-6 inches above the lily to encourage new growth. Healthy stems and leaves should be left intact.

Consistently fertilizing canna lilies, especially in the blooming period, will help the plants grow better and produce more flowers. Monthly feeding with a balanced fertilizer is recommended. Watering canna lilies regularly is also important, but be sure not to over-water as these plants prefer well-drained soils.

Considerations for pruning canna lilies include the need to divide larger clumps of bulbs and the removal of any dead or diseased foliage. When planting canna lilies, it is important to space them at least 18-24 inches apart to give them room to grow.

If you want to propagate canna lilies, you can do so by planting seeds or by dividing the bulbs. When dividing the bulbs, gently separate them and make sure each section has roots attached. Plant the divided bulbs immediately, placing them about 4 inches deep in the soil.

In conclusion, pruning and cutting back canna lilies is an important part of their care and maintenance. By following these tips, you can ensure that your canna lilies will grow and bloom again next season.

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.