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Cannas make a comeback. July 31, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening.
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Our friend Ben is thrilled to report that cannas are one tough group of plants. Here in scenic PA, Silence Dogood and I grow five different cannas in containers, including water cannas with yellow flowers, glorious white-variegated cannas, maroon-leaved cannas, and cannas with yellow-and-green and red-purple-and-green variegated leaves. They are very showy plants, adding lots of color to our deck and attracting hummingbirds when they come into bloom.

Unfortunately, like our other container plants, cannas are consigned to our greenhouse during the cold months. And I have to confess that we’re not the greatest at watering the greenhouse plants weekly through the winter, since the greenhouse is a long, snowy walk from our cottage home. And, given the cost of electricity, we keep the greenhouse at a warm and welcoming 55 degrees F. (as we keep our own house), which is not congenial to us or to our tropical plants.

As a result, when spring arrived and we could finally bring our plants from the greenhouse onto our deck, it appeared that five of our cannas had died. We reluctantly consigned them to our compost bins and chastised ourselves for bad stewardship.

But as the weather turned from warm to hot, we realized that we’d underestimated our cannas. All five of them revived and grew in our compost bins. As soon as we saw leaves, we potted them up and brought them onto the deck to join their compatriots. Not a single canna was lost!

The moral of this story is not to give up on your cannas, even if it looks like they’re dead. Those rhizomes store energy and food to fuel plant growth, even if it takes a while for them to show it. Keep watering, give them 6 to 8 hours of sun, and you’ll be rewarded with lush, decorative foliage and flowers, even if you thought your plants were dead. How thrilling to see their resurrection!

Comments»

1. Becca - July 31, 2013

Of course, we rip cannas ruthlessly out of the ground here in Florida. But, I do have some gorgeous purple leaved cannas that I admire year after year. They grow to about 7 feet tall, if they escape whatever worm loves to feast on them! I also have an edible canna that I am growing for the first time this year. 🙂 Would yours not come back at all if you put them in the ground?

Wowee kazowie, Becca, you rip cannas up like weeds?! And you have cannas that get 7 feet tall?!! Ours are lucky to make it to 2 feet in their containers, except for the white-variegated one, which can reach 4 feet. I just found out about edible cannas when I was researching cannas’ root system for this post and found that they were rhizomatous like iris. I assume the edible part of your canna is the rhizome; you’ll have to tell me how you prepare it and how you like it! I’ve always assumed that cannas couldn’t survive our Zone 6 winter temperatures in the ground, but maybe that’s not true. I ought to do some online research and ask around. Thanks for the suggestion!


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