O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

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"Clippings" from Iowa State Extension

"Canna" Grow It in a Pot?


February 14, 2019

A Canna in bloom.

The Master Gardener program teaches a lot, including the willingness to experiment. Such was the case last spring when I purchased my first canna. I really had no idea what to expect but was drawn to its vivid orange color. I also had no idea if it could be grown in a pot but was determined to try!

Once home, it dawned on me that I didn't have a pot large enough to support my new purchase. Luckily, I had unknowingly selected a variety that would grow to a height of 3 feet and that fit my new pot. I don't know what I would have done if it had turned out to be a giant variety that can reach 8 to 10 feet!

Cannas have attractive flowers and foliage that are rather exotic-looking. Flower colors range – yellow, orange, pink, red, salmon and red with yellow. The large, banana-shaped leaves also vary – from green to bronze to a variegated striped pattern.

Cannas may be started from seeds but start them mid- to late-February indoors. After the danger of frost is past, plants can be placed outdoors and should bloom 90-120 days after the seeds are sown. In my case, I had purchased a small plant which started to bloom about mid-July and continued through early September.

My canna graced the front of my apartment, receiving partial sun in the morning and several hours of afternoon sun. Later, I learned that cannas are native to tropical and subtropical areas. Hence, they like sun and adequate moisture.

A Canna in bloom.

But, cannas will not overwinter outdoors. After the first frost, I removed the plant from the pot leaving the soil around the rhizomes, cut the stems back to 2-3 inches, and let the stems and rhizomes dry in my garage for several days. Once dry, I placed the stems and rhizomes in a cardboard box, which I elevated above the garage floor. I'm hoping that the garage will be warm enough to prevent freezing, but not promote growth.

By the way, what started out as a couple of small rhizomes has increased to 6 rhizomes, which I will divide when re-potting this spring. Each piece must have an eye (or growing point) on it. The cut-up rhizomes will need to dry a few days before planting them.

So, come this summer, look for the apartment with the orange cannas. And why did I select orange? It's the color of one of my alma maters, Oklahoma State University! Hmm...I will need to purchase a red canna for Iowa State University, my other alma mater. Go Cowboys and Cyclones!


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