Canna

Valued for its wide range of foliage and flower colors, this well-loved plant adds a colorful, tropical flair to any garden.

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Canna 'Stutgartt' (Photo courtesy of Plant Delights)

Plant type: Herbaceous perennial in warmer climates
Hardiness: USDA Zones 6b (with protection) to 11

Valued for its wide range of foliage and flower colors, this well-loved plant adds a colorful, tropical flair to any garden but also bold texture and height. Foliage colors range from solid greens to blacks to variegations combining a wide range of sizzling hot colors, including red, pink, yellow and orange. Flower colors range from white, red, orange, yellow, pink and bicolors. Typically blooms from July to October. Plant size is two to six feet tall and wide, depending on cultivar; there are dwarf and giant cannas as well. Treat as an herbaceous perennial in warmer climates. Dig rhizomes for overwintering indoors in USDA Zones 3 to 6.

How to use it: In masses, as a specimen plant, or in containers. Can be used in sunken pots in water features, such as ponds or in aquatic containers. With its variation of colors and big, bold foliage, Canna is a perfect complement to fine-textured plants, such as ornamental grasses (including hardy sugar cane, Saccharum arundinaceum).

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Canna 'Bengal Tiger' (Photo by Susan Hamilton)

Culture: Prefers full sun (if adequate moisture is provided) to part sun; must get at least six hours of direct sunlight. Plants that do not bloom heavily or at all may not be getting the right amount of sunlight. Grow in a moist to wet soil; can also be submerged at the soil level in aquatic plantings and containers. Heavy feeders. If using an aquatic fertilizer, check for fertilizer rates before application. For added winter protection, mulch plants in Zones 6 to 7. Must dig rhizomes in late fall in areas with winters where temperatures are consistently below 0 degrees. Store rhizomes in sand or peat in a cool, dry location for the winter. Propagated by division. No serious pest or disease problems; borers, slugs and caterpillars may be a problem.

Special Notes:.Valued for its colorful tropical foliage and blooms, verticality in the landscape, and ability to grow on land and in water. Attracts hummingbirds.

Selected Cultivars

  • 'Tropicanna' (or 'Phaison'). Best-selling canna! There is a reason this canna is so popular and a must-have in any garden. Striking orange, red and yellow striped variegation on its foliage are complemented by hot orange flowers. Good clumper. Plant reaches 5 to 7 feet tall.
  • 'Australia'. Striking burgundy-black foliage reaches 4 to 5 feet tall. Vibrant red flowers play nicely off the black foliage and will send shock waves throughout the garden.
  • 'Bengal Tiger'. Green- and white-striped foliage adds a colorful tropical texture to the landscape. Brilliant orange flowers complement the variegation for a stunning display. Can be grown in aquatic setting. Photogenic plant, especially when backlit in the late afternoon sun. Good clumper. Plant reaches 5 to 6 feet tall.
  • 'Cleopatra'. Unique purple-red splotch pattern on green foliage. This plant is valued more for its highly unusual foliage patterns than its blooms. Be sure to rogue out solid green leaves and stems to keep variegation intact. Plant reaches about 4 feet tall.
  • 'Constitution'. A product of the Longwood Gardens breeding program, this canna has a purplish-gray foliage with a pink edge (leaf margin). Soft pink blooms contrast nicely with the dramatic frosted foliage. Another photogenic canna; 'Constitution' takes great pictures when backlit in late afternoon sun. Slow-growing clump. Plant reaches 5 feet tall.

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