Tag Archive for cannas

Canna Lily–You Can Grow That!

As one who avoids planting tender ‘bulbs’ due to the extra before-winter care they require, the tropical label carried by cannas kept them out of my zone 6 Connecticut gardens … until this year. A pass-along bag of cannas came my way in late spring, and found their way into large pots with the expectation that their upright foliage would help mask a less-than-perfect view.

Expectation realized …

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See the potted cannas at the rear of the chairs?

Their wonderfully large leaves helped block the view of the pool pump and heater. An extra benefit came when the canna blooms attracted hummingbirds.

With minimal time and effort we enjoyed the potted cannas – and the hummingbirds – in this full-sun location all summer and into early autumn when the canna leaves succumbed to cold temperatures. If I can grow canna, You Can Grow That! too.

You Can Grow That! is a campaign seeded by C.L. Fornari at Whole Life Gardening. On the 4th of each month, C.L. enlists the garden-blogging world to spread the word that gardening is good for people. Gardening fosters sharing and learning, enhances ones appreciation for nature and … quite frankly … it’s just not that hard.

Very little research was needed to learn out how to store the cannas during winter. Simply cut off spent foliage, remove the rhizomes from their pots, shake off the extra soil, and let them cure for a bit before choosing one of many storing methods.

The first step – removing from the pots – was the most difficult. I had potted the rhizomes pretty tightly into the pots in the spring. By autumn they were really jammed, making removal harder and more time consuming than expected. Had I read Ken Druse’s caution in Making More Plants … that “One canna section may produce a dozen new plants by autumn,”  I’d have given each rhizome more room in each pot.

By autumn, the two pots produced two paper bags, about half the size of a grocery store bag, of canna rhizomes – double the amount planted in spring. With one bag I’m following Ken’s advice. They’ll be surrounded by dry leaves and stored in a box or pail in the basement, where temperatures hover around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The other bag will remain in the unheated garage where temperatures often dip lower but not below freezing.

I like to experiment. Comparing how the cannas fair after storage in the two different locations should give some hints on how much abuse they will take and how to best overwinter them in the future.

Here’s a look at dug up canna rhizomes.

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Here’s how they looked shortly before blooming.

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Here they are blooming in July.

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The canna foliage remained green until hit by a hard frost.

Growing cannas is not unusual, and is certainly not difficult … a tidbit many other gardeners learned far earlier than I … but this is part of the You Can Grow That! message. Gardening is about living and learning and experimenting and growing … and sharing it all with others. Read what other gardeners have shared at the You Can Grow That! website and, if you have canna experience, please share it in a comment below.

 

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Bulbs to Plant, Bulbs to Store; Avoiding a Gardening Oops.

Welcome to December and the monthly Gardening Oops … the GOOPs confessional. On the first of each month, here at joene’s garden, it’s time to fess up a GOOPs, a garden-related miss-step or downright mistakes. The December 2012 GOOPs theme is too much to do, too little time, all revolving around bulbs and tubers.

Autumn is planting time for spring-blooming bulbs.  My order of Hyacinthoides (Spanish Bluebells), Camassia quamash, Dutch Iris, and two varieties of Crocus tommasinianus arrived and promptly went to the garage for safe keeping until planting.

The hyacinthoides and Camassia found permanent soil-based homes a week ago, with the helping hands of three-year-old granddaughter Avery – her first experience helping grandma plant bulbs.

Not so for the iris and crocus. They remain packaged in the garage.

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Does this qualify as a GOOPs? Not yet. Even in December, in southern Connecticut, it’s not too late to plant spring-blooming bulbs, provided the ground has not yet frozen solid. The predicted warm weekend temperatures should entice me to plant these beauties outside.  If not, they’ll be planted in pots and stored in the garage or the cold stairwell of the basement hatchway. With a bit of soil moisture, and a few weeks of the cold temperatures bulbs need to sprout, late winter should bring new growth.  A third, least desirable, option is storing the bulbs in paper bags in the refrigerator to pot up later. Though never trying the refrigerator storage thing myself, it’s purported to work.

Another bulb to-do: properly storing the canna bulbs. Cannas are a bit too cold-intolerant to survive outside through zone 6 winters. Rarely do I take on a plant/bulb that requires extra care to survive Connecticut weather, but a friend shared these cannas last spring. They grew beautifully all summer in large clay pots in full sun, needing little more than regular water, so now I’m hooked. Removing the bulbs from their pots was quite a chore but, after yanking, tugging, and forcing the bulbs from the soil, they went into a cardboard box in the garage to let the soil dry. And, there they sit.

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According the the video below, all that’s needed now is to place them in a paper bag, move them to the warmer, but still cool, basement, and check them occasionally to make sure they are not too dry.

Canna care

Time will tell whether this canna experience becomes a GOOPs … they may just survive my neglect to grow in potted homes again next summer.

The last bulb … well, actually tuber … left on my to-do is horseradish.

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The tubers, dug from the ground, shaken free of as much soil as possible, and left in a cardboard box to dry and cure now need remaining soil brushed off. Then, after washing and peeling, they will be food-processor ground.  It takes some doing to turn these unattractive, fresh dug horseradish roots into an edible condiment, but the sweetness of the finished product makes it worthwhile.

Tick-tock, tick-tock … all I need is time.

Do you find time lacking in your gardening life?  You can share your tale of time-woe, or confess another type of GOOPs, in a comment below or on your blog … just leave a link and a teaser comment below.

Don’t be shy. All gardeners have GOOPs. If you’ve not made mistakes, you are not gardening hard enough.

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