Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cannas-The Gaudy, Bawdy, Flashiest Flower In the Garden

From In the Garden

Who likes cannas? It is one of those plants you either really like, or you really hate. It is never in between with this gaudy, bawdy, flashy flower. As you can tell, I am one who loves these plants. When I lived in sunny and hot North Carolina I somehow wound up with a few cannas. I planted them in a bed all of their own and wow! Did they ever take off! I've been smitten ever since.

The more color the better. Not only do the flowers come in a rainbow of colors, but the leaves are also brightly colored. Here you see a yellow flowered canna, two orange flowered cannas and a red flowered canna. The first orange flowered cannas is Tropicana. A gift from a fellow gardener. The second orange canna is an unknown cultivar and has typical green leaves. The red canna pictured above has very dark foliage but look at the foliage on the red canna below-it is most different. You can mix and match any color flower or leaf and really have fun with the colors of cannas. Cannas are typically hardy to Zone 7 but here in my Zone 6 on the border of Zone 7 these cannas not only come back each year but absolutely thrive. They do so well they are growing up through landscape fabric and bricks. I've had to do a lot of thinning in this area so make sure they have room to spread.

Cannas also need lots and lots of sun. They are not even the slightest bit shade tolerant and will languish in the shade, at least here in my garden. The more sun the better.

Cannas can be bothered by Japanese beetles and canna leaf rollers. Both insects are very frustrating but will not kill the canna. I hand pick the Japanese beetles and use Bayer Systemic for the canna leaf rollers.

Do you really want to know why I like these guys so much? The color yes, but really I like the ease of care and the fact these perennials bloom all season with little or no care from me. It is very hard to find a perennial that blooms for a longer period so I enjoy these gaudy, bawdy, flashy flowers....

in the garden....


  1. Hey Tina, I tagged you for a Meme award. Please visit my blog today. H.

    P.S. it was kinda hard to do, but rewarding.

  2. Tina,
    I hear you. A perennial that comes back year after year and gives you so much flash is hard to beat. IF you love them. I DO love the striped foliage of the tropicanna.

    Funny you say either you love them or hate them. Cannas are seen and used everywhere down here in sunny Florida. Although they do require lots of sun as you mentioned --they do best when the soil is never allowed to dry out. They are mighty showy in bloom and their foliage is a feature all on its own. Personally I've never been a huge fan of the flowers. Having said that, if I had a perfectly sunny but moist spot, like next to a lake or pond, I would definitely plant some, cut the flowers off (I know *gasp*) and enjoy that luscious striped and burgundy leafage planted among other tropicals.
    Have a great day!
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

    It's probably not going to happy in my shady garden but that's the vision I have for them ...

  3. I like cannas, especially this pretty yellow color. The Arboretum has some georgeous cannas--all colors too. There is a peach that is do die for! :)
    Have a great day Tina.

  4. Good morning all!

    Helen, Very interesting!

    Dawn, Definitely colorful for sure.

    Meems, I too would plant them by a pond. They are perfect there-most tropical looking. Here in my garden they are not picky about moisture and even grow near a cedar tree. I think maybe because we are cooler here?

    Linda, I've seen the peach and you are so right! I'd love one of those here. I think they are so cool.

  5. Regal plant. I had them once, they bloomed nicely one season, and after that - nothing.I guess it was a wet winter and they died. Yours are gorgeous!

  6. Good Morning, Tina, I LOVE these, there are so many different cultivars all with gorgeous flowers and their signature tropical foliage, I don't have any myself, but in Nashville our neighbor had two ginormous clumps. I wish I had the right exposure for them, to let them spread.

  7. They are great plants for the southern garden. I like the leaves for color and contrast and the plant's height.

    A lot of cannas are grown up here in the north too even tho digging and storing the roots over winter is a bother.

  8. Will have to remember Bayer Systemic...I always forget about putting something on the cannas in May for the leaf roller, and I have a big problem with them!! I like the red cannas and wish I could find the name of the one I have on my header. I love the foliage (burgundy) and the peach-y color of the bloom. I marvel at the height of some of the varieties.

  9. They are pretty neat and give the garden a tropical look. I planted one last year and it never came back.

  10. Leave it to me to buck the system...I have cannas thriving in the shade.oops!

  11. I do love cannas, Tina, and yours are showstoppers! I had every intention of planting some this year, but didn't. I think it's because I didn't have quite the right place for them--they need a place all their own, for sure. You're so lucky that they come back every year; here we have to dig them up every fall.

  12. LOL, I'm afraid I'm one of those people who's in between about cannas. You see, I LOVE the foliage on some but then am not wild about the flowers. Or if I like the flower OK, the foliage leaves me "eh." I'd say I like them more than not like them, and they do make for great combos, but they're not hardy here and I don't like them enough to store their bulbs each year.

  13. I started growing cannas last year and love them! I added more this year and you will see those before long as I have a post coming up on them...

    I only wish the blooms would last longer then they do but as the lily, they just dont last long...Sigh...

  14. I think they are beautiful and so big and showy but I never saw any that fit my color scheme so I didn't buy any. Now that I have more variety of color I should try and grow them.

  15. Tina,
    I love Cannas, and yours are such great color combos!
    I haven't tried them up here in the ground. Just in pots.
    Nice post!

  16. I don't quite fit the profile. There are some cannas that I really like, and some that I hate. I don't like the tall red highway-type cannas, but I have been coveting Canna 'Panache' and I really like our native Golden Canna.

  17. Tatyana, That is a bummer yours died out!

    Lzyjo, Too bad you and Dave don't live closer as I'd love to share. I've been giving them away left and right I almost don't have enough for the plant sale. Darn!

    Marnie, You definitely have to dig up there. I was bemused when I went to Maine last summer and saw these at a plant sale. The lady was explaining you must dig them though. We are lucky we don't have to but I might grow them even if I had to dig-they are so colorful.

    Janet, I applied the Bayer last fall and I've had minor minor issues. Normally you know those leaf rollers can totally decimate a good stand of cannas. I was at my wit's end. Give it a try as that stuff is great in the right spots.

    Dave, One of these days I'll give you some and you might not like me so much then as they spread fast!

    Darla, Lucky you! I tried and I tell you they suffered-as did I. No more now.

    Rose, I think they are splendid and boy do they shine in this border I see from the kitchen. I love that they rebloom. Bummer on digging for sure.

    Monica, I'll make an exception for you to be different then:) And it is so fine. The foliage is a lovely lovely thing-so tropical and bold. Bummer on digging.

    Skeeter, Glad you love them! I am finding that as one bloom fades another one quickly takes it place so hang in there as more and more come up you'll have non-stop blooms.

    Linda, There are soft colors and loud colors (me), small flowers and big flowers and the same on the leaves. It is limitless almost. Amazing too.

    Rosey, So great you grow the cannas! With your short growing season I know I'd want to make it hot and get these pretty flowers. I think they make the summer nice and bright. Do you grow the bright colors? Are they easy to grow in pots?

    Sweetbay, We'll put you and Monica in the same category-in between on cannas then:) That is fine and I am glad to hear it! NC has some very pretty stands of them. I could not believe how quickly they grew in my garden there. A bit slower here but still fast.

  18. Oh! To be one zone higher! I'm too lazy to dig up my cannas and usually have to start new ones...I love the red-leaf varieties even though the flowers are not showy. That yellow is beautiful! So, Tina, don't know if you enjoy Memes or not, but I've tagged you for one! No pressure!

  19. I love the look of canna but just cant grow them. Have lots of lovely foilage but no flowers

  20. They really are very flashy!! ~bangchik

  21. I too love the 'flashy' colors of Cannas. So far I have just one, "tropicana" and plan on getting a few more. I will have to wait until my new garden on the sunny side of the house is finished, well, it has not been started except for pulling all the old Junipers.

  22. Hi Tina,
    I have a bed of different colors of cannas. The bed in on the West side of my home. I've learned they love rich, damp soil. I tried some in pots but some never bloomed till I put them into the ground. Like this Spring.
    I really like these plants as they are very low maintenance. I have the tall ones in back & the shorter ones in front.

  23. Lynn, Give it some time and your zone will be warmer and no more digging! So neat to learn about you and all the bloggers from memes. I enjoy them.

    Helen, Maybe the variety is not a good one? I'd try a different one or two and see if that makes a difference. Foliage is lovely though!

    Bangchik and Kakdah, They are indeed.

    KeeWee, Tropicana is surely one of the flashiest. Gotta love em..

    Lola, Aren't they just wonderful? I remember you did a posting on it and you had some hot colors too. They look great on the west side of your house.

  24. I do love cannas too. I'd love them without the flowers, and if the flowers show up, that's fine with me, too. I've planted Canna Musifolia, and found it to be super hardy in zone 8, although I don't often get flowers. Not sure if that's an issue of too little sun or too much winter, but they're on my must have list nonetheless.

  25. I really like them and should get some. What the heck, I have to did up my glads, dahlias, caladiums
    and freesias so for as pretty as they are, it would be worth it. I cheat and do not dig them but just pull em out anyway. But in the spring you do have to dig. At first in reading the post I thought they would look great across the front of the main part of the house. Then Skeeter said they do not bloom long and I was saddened and a little confused but then I once again perked up with your answer to Skeeter. I must remember all this for when all the spring catalogs show up. Thanks for the idea as I have been grappling with what to plant there.

  26. Such a lovely post and great flowers

  27. Your cannas look gorgeous!! I have the yellow variety with a little tinge of red in the middle. The sunbirds love them. They grow wild in many low-lying areas. Here you often come across large clumps of reds or yellows. Either hate them, love them? I love them!! I'll need to thin out mine. Glad you mentioned it:)

  28. Hi Tina -can't beat the vibrant color:) Hope all is well on this fine day --hard to believe we are in September already, where did the summer go? hahaha You should see my curly willow -it is HUGE. Over the past few months it has just grown like crazy -looks great, thanks Tina:)

  29. Megan, You might check the sun issue. I have some cannas in the shade but flowers are so sparse. Maybe that is it and you can fix that and get some flowers.

    Mom, They are so pretty and look at home in your perennial garden even. I keep thinking of your lovely glads when I think of that bed.

    Joanne, They really are.

    Kanak, I can envision these would grow very well in India. I bet the large stands are a sight to see!

    Anonymous, I tell you that you just cannot beat this day with a stick!! it is SO awesome! I've been meaning to stop by and see your willow. Seems I am always running and with school (for me and the Jimster) back in session it might be worse now. But am I ever so excited to be taking landscape design this term so it is okay I guess. I'll get over there soon-hopefully before the leaves fall and the baby is walking-where does the time go? You take care.

  30. Jean, when I say the blooms dont last long, I mean the individual bloom. But the Cannas keep producing more and more blooms each day so I do have color they just fade too quickly for me to enjoy them longer. They have been blooming for over two months but each bloom does not last too long kind of like a lily bloom. The bloom is here today then gone tomorrow but another one may be in its place within a day or so… They are wonderful low maintenance plants for sure down here but the digging them up would deter me from having them up north…

  31. Yes, I agree about the love/hate thing: I've gone from a hater to a love in the last few weeks. It needs late summer for me to want to see a plant like a canna perhaps.

  32. I think I like them for their foliage more than the flowers, although the flowers are nice. I like bold loud colors and forms, so they are the perfect plant for my garden - if it were not for the leaf rollers, which are epic here.

  33. I'm a fan of cannas too Tina. Their foliage is my favorite part, it blends well with so many other things & easy to maintain is a bonus! :)

  34. I used to have the cannas in my parent's garden, they look great along the fence and the blooms last very long. Easy to plant and almost care free, just make sure don't let the deers and beetles get them.

  35. Beautiful cannas, Tina! I, too, am a fan of this plant. I used to think they were too common but now think they are wonderful. I love the bursts of color they bring to a garden.

  36. Well, thanks to you I have my first ever cannas! I forgot to ask what color the flowers might be? I have the perfect containers for them and hope they can survive. gail

  37. My favorite thing about cannas isn't the blooms, it's the foliage. Cannas fill the space well where you need big leaves for contrast. They add a tropical look, too. Except for the occasional leaf roller, they haven't many pests. Gotta love 'em.

  38. The lone canna tuber I planted this year didn't come up, but I'll try again next year if only to attract the hummers. Yours are gorgeous! Like you, I like gaudy flowers. I haven't seen my monarch caterpillars lately, but now I've got swallowtails. Yippee!

  39. EB, Your picture of them at Wisley looked great!

    Les, You are my kind of gardener for sure. Try the Bayer for the leaf rollers as it seems to work here. I like the systemics.

    Racquel, I seem to remember you have a good stand of them near your house and they rock!

    VueJardin, Those beetles are really a royal pain in the you know what. Hate those things!

    Karrita, I know what you mean with common as these are often overplanted-especially in commercial settings. They are most pretty though.

    Gail, Your canna is the last one pictured on this post. Hope you like it. They will do well in containers just need lots of fertilizer as they are heavy feeders.

    Nell Jean, You are not alone on loving the foliage. Seems that is a big attraction. I like the tropical look.

    MsRobin, Do try them again-try try again as they say. You are bound to have success. No monarchs here but FINALLY swallowtails too! It seems late but it is not. Yippee on your yours since you are more north than me that is super!

  40. i am not sure but i might be your only hater...i don't like them at all. but having said that i can appreciate them in someone elses garden and yours look nicely sighted and as a group are quite nice. it's our differences that make the world go round.
    lovely september.

  41. I agree, canna is one of no-care-bloom-alot perennial. In our city Lahore it is wild and a popular street plant. You have planted some gorgeous ones specially the last one is really amazing and i have not seen the one like that.

    i was gifted free seeds packet of canna seeds of dominic republic and they have just sprouted. i hope one of them will be the same as this last one in the pic. thanks for sharing these wonderful pics.

  42. Marmee, Being different is what makes us all so special and life interesting!

    Muhammad, Hello and welcome! Cannas are just so much fun for sure. I hope your seeds are one type of each plant in the rainbow-it will be a most welcome gift from the DR for sure. So great you germinated them!

  43. I adore cannas, and yours look fantastic. I wished I lived near you and could have one of your pass-along plants! I absolutely agree about the colours - the flashier they are, the more I love them. One of the best things about them (in the UK anyway) is that they come late in the season. They seem to make summer last longer.

  44. I have much respect for the canna. A very tough and showy plant. I especially like the yellows.

  45. My mother in law grew cannas, but I haven't been a huge fan of them. I think because you have to dig them up in the fall, but I may not be so in love with the plant itself, either. Well, you know I have a number of mystery plants that pop up here and there, and it took awhile to figure out one (now 2) was a canna. I asked a lady at my favorite greenhouse whether a root could have been in the ground over 10 years, and then start to grow. She asked me if I have a neighbor who grows them, and that it probably grew from seeds of theirs. I let the 2 plants that are right next to each other grow, even though they are too close to a goldenrod. One of them has just started to bloom. I plan to post it for GBBD. It is pretty cool. I'll have to decide whether to dig it for next year. At this point, I think I'm a rare one who is not in either the love or hate camp. I do love the riot of color in your garden!