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 …
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.
Here’s how they looked shortly before blooming.
Here they are blooming in July.
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.