Is it time to dig up cannas?

stirfry2(7)September 30, 2005

We want to proceed with some landscaping, but have cannas in the way. They are still green and have flowers. Can I dig them up? Thank you

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What zone are you in? If zone 7 or warmer, you can leave in the ground.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 7:22PM
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Thank you Susan, I am in zone 6.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2005 at 7:37AM
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Cannas are pretty tough. You can probably dig them up, trim the foliage, and store over winter in peat. Cannas take a lot of abuse in my opinion.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 10:38AM
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I forgot to mention, cannas are not aroids. I would look in the Bulbs forum (altho they're not bulbs either, but rhizomes).


    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 7:24PM
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There is a canna forum here with lots of info on cannas and canna storage. Cannas have been known to survive in zone 6 even if planted in a sunny, well-drained location. We all have microclimates in our gardens. I'm in zone 7a, but I have had some zone 8 plants survive in one of my microclimates.

When you have a nice clump of your cannas, you might experiment with storing a few inside and trying some in various spots in your yard. You just might be surprised and find that they will actually overwinter in one spot.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 2:31PM
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I was afraid that the cannas would not overwinter in his zone, NancyAnn. I know they will overwinter in my zone 7a, but normally they are touted to only be hardy in zone 8. I, too, have the microclimate you speak of, and am able to winter over many zone 8 or warmer plants, like glads, dahlias, colocasias, alocasias, etc.

Zone 6 might be pushing it, even with a microclimate and good mulch, especially with some of the more tender cannas (some are more tender than others).

But, you're right, I would check the canna forum. I grow a few, and dug up a ton I didn't want that kept coming back year after year (they were just the plain old green-leaved red and yellow flowering ones). They were very easy to dig, though.

Now, some like Bengal Tiger, the variegated leaved forms (Stuttgart, tropicana, etc.) may be more tender than the others. Like I said, we have one of the biggest canna farms in the nation in Oklahoma called Horn's Canna Farm.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 7:16PM
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Susan, I'm in Jonesboro, Ark, where Quality Cannas is located. One day, I need to get out to Horn's. I buy a lot of cannas from them each year. I'd love to see their farm in person.

My sister is in zone 6 and the cannas I gave her have been coming back year after year. The trick is to plant them in a sunny, well-drained area and mulch them well. And you'll notice I suggested that Stirfry dig a few and leave a few in ground as an experiment. I've found in areas in my yard that hold water, cannas do not survive winter there. But on a hillside or in sandy soil, they survive just fine, even our worst winter in history. I'm borderline 6b/7a. My sister is firmly zone 6.

I've never had a problem leaving glads, dahlias, and certain elephant ears in ground. I don't even plant them in my warmer microclimates. They're right out in the open. This year, I'm trying a few brugs in the ground too to see how they do. I hear some will survive in my zone. My moonflower daturas come back from the same root system, and I've been told they won't. I think plants are often tougher than we give them credit for. I know I'm always pushing my plants to the limit, and they don't let me down.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 8:21AM
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Ooh, NancyAnn, I knew I liked you - another zone pusher, like me! Hurrah! Yes, I love to push zones. I am pushing with Tetrapanax Steroidal Giant and regular Tetrapanax this year. But, I bought it at the local herb festival from an Oklahoma grower. Also, I have had A. macrorhiza and esculenta in the ground for several years. This year I bought Colocasia gigantea 'Thai Giant', 'Ruffles', wentii, A. plumbea nigra, C. esculenta 'Fontanesii', 'Illustris', 'Black Magic, and my favorite Alocasia lutea! A lady in Yukon (just a few miles west of me), said she left her A. plumbea nigra outside accidently over winter last year (it was mild, though we did have quite a few freezing days and nights), and it came back! Astounding. I really love the aroids, and want to try Amorphophallus konjac next year, which is hardy here, and possibly paeonifolius, which is hardy to 8, but I think I might be able to do it in my yard.

Brugs do well in the ground here, too, as I'm told by many on the Oklahoma gardening forum. I just wonder why they (whomever determines hardiness of plants) only say that glads and dahlias are hardy to zone 8, when most of us have been growing them for years in our colder zones? Hmmmm. Another question to give me pause.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 7:49PM
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Can you even kill a canna? I've tried and tried and the dang things won't die. Kind of like a bad mummy movie. I sent some to my sister in Delaware & they overwinter there with no problems. All I know is that she is in zone cold. Tally HO!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 7:08PM
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AxelDog_z5(z5 IN)

I'm going to try a technique I read about. After the first frost, cut them down to ground level; heap about 7" of chopped, dried leaves on top and cover with a tarp. It's supposed to carry them into zone 5. I always dig mine up and store in the unheated garage - again, after the first frost. I'm going to do both ways, just in case.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 1:39PM
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Beachplant - I don't know if you can kill them or not. I did the "down and dirty" thing; got down on my hands and knees and literally sifted through the entire bed for rhizomes. Fortunately, the soil was very friable, and it wasn't really much of a chore. Then I tossed them in some bags and took them to the office and gave them away. Lots of people like them. I'm not particular fond of them, although I have one solitary focal canna, with pale green/white stripes (very fine) and a pale yellow bloom. It is an understated, but elegant plant, unlike the baudy ones you see most places.

Your methods sounds like a good one! Cannas reproduce so quickly, that I don't think you'll have any problems if you lose the ones in the ground.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 8:33PM
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