Is anybody familiar with this giant heirloom canna?

panspipes(zone 9)January 14, 2012

I haven't bothered to post a picture since the description is quite simple, but I can later if I must.

The leaves are just plain green. The flowers are brilliant red with long narrow pointed petals, not the wide rounded showy petals you see in most modern hybrids. And they are just red, all red, never any little streaks or flecks of yellow or anything.

The interesting thing about them is that they consistently grow well over 9ft tall. Our gutter is at least 10ft high and there will always be more than a few ambitious flowers well above gutter level. So with the exception of last Summer with the worst drought and heat in recorded history, these cannas generally grow 8-11 feet tall.

My mother started them in the late 70's in Michigan where they also grew that tall for over 30 years. I now have them in Texas in a very different sort of soil, but with the same results. We've both been known to use a little Miracle-Gro but certainly not with any diligence or regularity. These plants are just brutes.

Why have I never seen any varieties listed as reaching over 6 or 7 feet?

What are these things? Are they rare?

P.S. I'm pretty sure the seeds are sterile, but not 100% positive.

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There are a number of cultivars that grow in excess of 6 feet. Catalogers tend to list the heights that are more attractive to the general public. Cultivars such as C. 'Intrigue', C. 'Richard Wallace' and C. 'King Humbert' come to mind. Canna planting that are not regularly thinned or grow in semi shaded areas will typically grow much taller.
From your description, your cultivar is likely related to a primary (specie like) hybrid. You might do a search for Canna compacta, sometimes sold as C. 'Robert Kemp'. This particular plant does produce seed and being a species it produces genetically true seedlings. It can grow between 2 and 2 1\2 meters (6 to 9ft.).
With a good series of photos we might make a rational guess.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 2:07PM
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panspipes(zone 9)

Thanks again Kent. That's all I needed to know. I've just gathered some seeds to see if they will germinate. I really hope they do as it would offer me some insurance against losing them all to a virus. My family has been keeping these specific plants alive for over 3 decades.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 6:26PM
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Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))

Could it be canna musafolia? (I've also seen "musifolia" as the spelling, don't know which is correct.) This literally means "banana-leafed canna."

They get very tall, with small red flowers with narrow petals, what some growers call "orchid type" flowers. The blossoms look delicate compared to the leaves. Try a web search for this botanical name and see if the pictures look like what you have. I've been drooling over B&B's summer '12 catalog and saw a photo there. Was thinking about buying this one, actually.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:19PM
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Edie-I sent you an e-mail, I`ve tons of the banana canna.

Welcome to the south, a LOT of canna get over 6` here.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 4:45PM
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It could be plain old canna indica. I grew these from seed, they're fertile. Bloomed the first year from seed.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 5:09PM
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Eddie_h, what is the B&B catalog? TIA!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 12:48PM
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ilovetogrow z9 Jax Florida

Princeton Nurseries: B&B's Plant List

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 6:09AM
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