Growing Canna Lilies

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February 14, 2006
Growing Cannas

Botanical Name:

Canna x gerneralis

Growing Hints:

Southern zones can plant bulbs outside in the spring. To give them a head start, zones north of zone 7 should start bulbs indoors 5 weeks before the last frost date. Pot rhizomes in a soil-less mix, pointed end up and barely cover them. Keep them warm (75ºF) and slightly moist until new growth appears. Then move them to a sunnier location and feed every two weeks with a 1/2 strength houseplant fertilizer. Move plants outdoors when danger of frost has passed.

Interesting Facts:

Cannas can be dug up in cooler zones and stored until the following season. Dig them up after the first light frost and cut the tops back approximately 6 inches. Don't bother cleaning soil off the roots, just set them in damp peat moss and store in a cool (40ºF to 50ºF), dry place. Rhizomes should be checked throughout winter and watered lightly if needed to keep roots from shriveling.

Suggested Use:

beds, borders, landscape accents and container plants

Life Cycle:

perennial rhizomes

Planting Time:

spring after danger of frost has passed


dwarf types 2' to 3; standard types 5' to 6'


full sun


rich, moist, well-drained soil


perennial rhizomes 8 to 11; over winter indoors in cooler zones

Bloom Time:

late spring


variety of bright colors including fire-engine red, hot pink and shocking orange.


bright green, blue-green, deep red or tiger striped


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13 Questions

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May 16, 2017

I have a small garden in my backyard. I have canna lilies and half of them are growing to the fullest height and some aren't growing that tall, but are prematurely blooming. What could be causing this growth problem?

Growing Canna Lilies
Growing Canna Lilies


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May 16, 20172 found this helpful

They need at least a foot or two between them

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May 18, 20171 found this helpful

Did you plant these at the same time? Are you sure they are the same type as different species of canna lilies grow to different heights.
Were these in pots before you planted them in your yard? If so, it appears that you should have separated the bulbs and planted them in individual sites as they need room to grow. Another thing about lilies is they need water and sun.


Here is an excellent site that has very clear instructions on how to grow canna lilies:

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May 28, 20170 found this helpful

Funny you should ask....the shorter ones were actually in a shallow pot. But yes, they are the same... Thank you for your advice!

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July 9, 2018

I planted my cannas a month ago and I followed the directions on the tag. They look brown and are not growing at all. I have them on a dip system so they are not being over or under watered. I just don't know what is going on with them.

We purchased them from a nursery. The dirt was dry to the touch, but no flowering just the green leaves. I bought 10 of the tropical cannas and all of them look brown. I need help, too much money was spent on these plants.


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July 9, 20180 found this helpful

You might have canna rust, a fungus. Remove all affected leaves and apply a fungicide. Make sure your plant is getting enough sun and air circulation

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July 10, 20180 found this helpful

So if I cut all the leaves off and the stalk is the only part of the canna is left will it grow back? They are in the sun up to six to seven hours .


Thank you I will cut the leaves off and apply the fungicide.

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July 10, 20181 found this helpful

It will grow back. You have to cut off the bad parts or it spreads.

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July 11, 20181 found this helpful

I love these plants and when I had them, the brown was always from lack of water. I am assuming you have them outside like I did.

Because to me they are pretty low maintenance, I would sometimes forget to water when it didn't rain and they would brown out. I would have to do the deep watering they talk about here. So it could be as simple as your dip system isn't giving them enough water.


This site talks about salts, which I have no idea what they mean (maybe someone else here knows). Water and good sun always made for a lovely display (when we had a typical Pittsburgh rainy season or I remembered to water of course).

Good luck!!

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July 12, 20181 found this helpful

First thing to check would be to check that your drip system is actually providing enough water as this is crucial, especially since they are in full sun (very hot?) most of the day.

  • I do not like cutting my lilies all the way down when they are still in very hot sun most of the day (I live in Florida) but lilies usually grow well if watered correctly and several hours of sunshine each day. Hopefully, your lilies just need to be acclimated to full sun (original green leaves may mean they were growing in some sort of hot house).
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  • More info on possible causes: Too much fertilizer can cause foliage burn as well. If this has occurred flush the fertilizer with heavy applications of water. It's best to use slow release fertilizer when possible.
  • Make sure when watering to water heavy enough to soak the entire root system.
  • If you think it could be Canna rust then you need to check out remedies on this site:
  • Symptoms
  • Easy-to-identify symptoms include spore-like, orange spots visible on the plant's leaves. Sometimes, the spots may spread onto the stems. As the infection progresses, the upper parts of the leaves develop a blackish-brown appearance. Such leaves are prone to fall prematurely.
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June 21, 2011

I don't know why, but my cannas won't unravel it seems as if they continue growing, but are sown together with these little black dot looking things. They are aligned in the center of the plant. It looks like it's eating the plant as well. Please help me.

By Brianna


June 28, 20110 found this helpful

I have always heard them called Leaf-rollers. If you break the webbing and carefully unravel the leaves, you will find the worms. Put some kind of bug poison on it to kill the worms or you will have no blooms. I fight them every year.

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January 22, 2011

I know I am supposed to cut back my cannas and my banana plants. Is it too late? Also when is a good time to transplant the cannas?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

By nancy nunez from Longview


January 23, 20110 found this helpful

I dig my canna bulbs each year and put them upstairs for the winter! I've not lost any yet. The only one I've transplanted was a rescued discounted orange canna. It did ok but didn't bloom last year. I did get several bulbs off it though, so this year I will have more plants. After planted mine usually grow to between 4 and 7 feet tall.

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May 18, 2010

I have Canna lilies in pots and since transplanting them the leaves have gone limp and fallen over. Will they come back? What can I do to help them?

The pots are in a south facing yard with bright sun throughout a good portion of the day. The overnight temperature has not dropped below 7C since they were planted. I have Canna lilies in this location every year and this is the first time this has happened.

Please help.


Hardiness Zone: 3b

By Kal from Alberta


May 20, 20100 found this helpful

There are some on our property that grew up on their own---possibly from squirrels digging up my MIL's and putting them in my yard. The ones that are near damp areas do the best.

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Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this page.

March 22, 2016

I love flowers and I love gardening! Canna lilies are one of my old-fashioned favorites because they are low-maintenance and easy to grow.

Canna Lily

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August 4, 2017

I purchased this aquatic plant at my home improvement store. They are seasonally available there. This water plant was planted in soil in a pot and then placed in my pond using some pond rocks around the top part of the pot to hold it more securely in my small pond.

My First Aquatic Canna - orange and yellow canna lily bloom

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July 22, 2014

We saw this bright and beautiful flower outside of a restaurant that we visit from time to time. I have never seen an iris this color before.

An orange and yellow canna lily.

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September 14, 2017

Make sure that your canna lilies get enough sun, the right amount of water, and the right kind of fertilizer to produce blooms. This is a page helps solve why canna lilies are not blooming.

canna lily in pot

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August 31, 2017

If the leaves on your cannas are ripped, one reason may be insufficient watering. This is a page about why canna lily leaves are ripped.

A red canna lily.

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