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Fresh Ideas for Growing Cannas in Your Garden

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on Apr 4, 2017
Fresh Ideas for Growing Cannas in Your Garden—Longfield-Gardens
Canna Tropicana with Dahlias

There is nothing subtle about cannas. With their big leaves, impressive height and vibrant, orchid-like flowers, these flashy extroverts love being the center of attention. Finding new and creative ways to use all that exuberant energy is exactly what makes them so fun to grow. Read on for some inspiration!

Fresh Ideas for Growing Cannas in Your Garden—Longfield-Gardens
Canna Pretoria

Growing Cannas – The Basics

There’s nothing difficult about growing these spring-planted bulbs. Here’s what they need:

HEAT. Cannas are tropical plants that love warm weather, so don’t be surprised if they grow slowly at the beginning of the season when the soil is still cool. By mid-July, your plants will shift into high gear and grow as much as an inch a day!

MOISTURE. Cannas are thirsty plants, so keep this in mind when choosing a planting location.  If you plan to grow them in containers, choose a large pot so the plant has enough room to reach its full potential. Larger pots also make it easier to keep up with watering.

ROOM TO GROW. It takes just 3 to 4 months for a fist-size clump of rhizomes to grow into a plant that’s as tall as you are. Height varies from one variety to the next, so when you’re shopping for cannas, be sure to note the variety’s mature size.

Fresh Ideas for Growing Cannas in Your Garden—Longfield-Gardens
Canna Pink Magic with Caladium White Queen

Landscaping with Cannas

There are so many ways to incorporate these showy, tropical plants into your landscape. Make the most of their impressive size by using them to hide an unwanted view or define an outdoor room. You can use cannas to dress up an outbuilding or soften the lines of a fence. Wish your patio felt a bit more private? Enclose it with cannas!

While cannas always look great on their own, consider pairing them with other big and assertive plants such as elephant ears, dahlias, sunflowers, amaranth and kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate.

Fresh Ideas for Growing Cannas in Your Garden—Longfield-Gardens
Canna Tropicana Black

The canna’s dramatic foliage and exotic flowers take pots and planters to new heights. You can plant cannas in their own pot, or pair them up with caladiums, coleus, dahlias, euphorbia and hibiscus. Cannas come in a range of heights — short, medium and tall — so choose a variety that fits your container and location.

Cannas hit their stride in late summer, when most flower gardens are beginning to fade. To keep your garden colorful right through September, you can rely on cannas and late-blooming perennials such as rudbeckia, agastache, Russian sage and helenium.

Fresh Ideas for Growing Cannas in Your Garden—Longfield-Gardens
Late summer border with Tropicana and Tropicana Gold.

Creative Combinations

Canna foliage can inspire all sorts of wonderful plant combinations. Above, two different cannas have been planted with coleus, amaranth, gaillardia, helianthus and lantana. It’s an eye-catching late summer display that will keep going right through the fall.

The leaves of ‘Tropicana’ and ‘Tropicana Gold’ feature colorful stripes that glow when they’re backlit. In pots, these plants look terrific paired with coleus and anything with purple, pink or coral flowers.

To accentuate the drama of a dark-leaved variety such as ‘Australia’ and ‘Tropicana Black’, pair them with the equally dark foliage of coleus, amaranth, alternathera or sweet potato vine. For dramatic contrast, add a splash of lime, creamy white or yellow.

Fresh Ideas for Growing Cannas in Your Garden—Longfield-Gardens
Canna Tropicana with Black-Eyed Susan Vine

Want to attract hummingbirds to your garden? Plant varieties with bright red blossoms such as ‘Australia’, ‘Tropicana Black’ and ‘Rosita’. They’ll keep hummers zooming through your garden all summer long.

Cannas always put on a great show — so why not put some to work in your garden this summer? You can shop our complete selection of varieties HERE. To learn more about planting and growing, read All About Cannas. Our in-house bulb expert, Hans Langeveld, also shows you how to plant them in this VIDEO.


Topics: Container Plants Foliage Plants Inspiration Spring Planted Bulbs Summer Bulbs

Kathleen LaLiberte has been writing about gardening for more than 30 years from her home in northern Vermont, where she tends a half acre of flowers, vegetables and fruit. She has been working with Longfield Gardens since 2011.

6 Replies to “Fresh Ideas for Growing Cannas in Your Garden”

  1. Just received my beautiful peony bulbs…everyone recommends planting in the fall, but can I still plant them now that fear of frost is gone. Afraid fall will be too late and they may dry out or not be as healthy. Have them in open box in cool dry spot.

    1. Hi George. To effectively control pest damage, you need to start by identifying what sort of bug is doing the damage. Then, if you decide to use a pest control, you can get one that will work on the problem. Most garden pests come and go, and the plants survive just fine. Healthy plants are better able to defend themselves from pests and diseases, so make sure the plants are as healthy as possible.

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