how fast do cannas grow from seed?

christie_sw_mo(Z6)February 10, 2005

I have filed some seeds as well as the edges of my fingers and have them soaking. I think I remember reading that cannas will bloom the first year but I'm wondering if they will actually grow to full size the first year. Is that a stupid question? My seeds are from a canna that was around four or five foot tall. Will some of my seedlings be that tall by the end of the summer?

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bigred(z8 Ark.)

I grew Lucifer from seed. It bloomed second year.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 8:25AM
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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

Someone gave me an India Prince at a plant swap that he had started in Feb. and it bloomed in August.

I am still trying to figure out how to nick/file the seeds. Am thinking of drilling but can't find drill bits.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2005 at 6:29PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I've started cannas from seed a few years in row. They've always bloomed the first year, but they might not get as tall as they will in the second year. In fact, this is the weekend to start some more.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2005 at 2:52PM
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Hi Christie!!

Have you tested your canna seeds to see if they are viable?? It is easy to test, just nick them and put them in a cup of water. When you see this rather obscene looking white thing poking out, transplant the seed. I find this to give 100% success in germination rather than just planting the seeds AND you wont waste any potting soil "wondering" if they will germinate or not.

I was able to nick mine successfully by using a vice and a heavy duty file. Kinda tedious, but it was the only thing that worked. When you see white in the seed, you have nicked it enough.

I PROMISE to email you soon!! :)

Oh, does anyone know if you have a better chance of first year blooms if you start the seeds extra early???

    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 10:52AM
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Yes Ellen start them now and you wil have blooming first year plants by the end of the season!
Keep the seedlings on a sunny south-facing window until the weather warms up.they will need time to generate a ryzome before they put energy into making blooms.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 3:37PM
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I should've used a vice too. I tried to hold them between my fingers and file them and that's not easy to do. I sent you mail Ellen. : )

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 4:41PM
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dees(5 IN)

This is my first year growing cannas from seeds.I tried everthing and finally succeeded, with pliers and a dremel. I held them with the pliers and ground them with the dremel, until I saw white.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 2:01AM
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I tried seeds for the first time last year, and got some to flower. I started in mid March, used a toe nail clipper to nick the seed, soaked for a few days, then planted in a small black pot, which I kept moist. The keys after that are warmth, sun, and water! I potted them up in black pots (to warm up the roots), and would repot once roots came out the bottom of the pot. I had one (Robert Kemp) which set seed (thanks, hummingbirds!), and will use those to start over next year, in case the roots left in the ground, and in the garage, don't survive over the winter.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 3:21PM
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I never was able to get outside to use the vice this time, just filed in the kitchen---150 SEEDS LATER!!!!--my fingers are raw! Sure wish I had a dremel!

Does anyone know exactly what to expect as far as height from these?? I do not know the exact variety (I'm sure that would help!). Is it just the height that will be stunted, or any other aspect of growth? I want to plant my cannas in several 12 inch pots. Your recommendations for how many plants per pot, to acheive a "full" look at least, if it will not get the height??????? Of course, most of these 150 plants will be going in the garden!

I do intend to plant other trailing plants in the containers as well, some Avalanche petunias, maybe some Sweet Potato Vines, depending on sun exposure, maybe some Lantana. So I am wondering how many Cannas to allow room for with all these other plants.

Anyone know why it is that they dont sell Canna seeds, since they are so easy to collect and germinate?? I have only seen the Tropical varieties from seed, and I think I read somewhere that the instructions for sowing them is to "scatter the seeds"; no nicking or soaking required. Do the tropical ones produce a different kind of seed?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 2:15PM
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I have to say that I don't ever nick mine. Sometimes in the late summer, early fall, when the seed pods are just forming and still green, they have what looks like miniture canna leaves sticking out of them...I pick those, set them upright on top of some soil in a pot, water, watch grow. The ones that set to hard seed, I just soak for a couple of days in a cup of water, then put in a pot of soil til big enuf to handle/transplant. Easy cheesy.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 1:26AM
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jenniew(z6 ohio)

Something I picked up in my Master Gardeners classes is to use a nail file to nick seeds. I usually just soak my seeds that need softened up but my instructor always swears by the "file."

    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 9:37AM
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jane_socal(Sunset 23/z10)

I've tried using a Dremel, holding the seed with pliers (a vise is too time consuming), though the vibrations make it hard to hold those little things steady. Another method that works: hold the seeds with needlenose or regular pliers, put one of those metal diamond-type nail files, rough edge up, under the seed, and slide the file back and forth (holding the seed steady). Fast enough, and no nicked fingers.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 5:51PM
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just a quick (dumb)question from a canna newbie: do you have to nick the seeds before they will germinate? Because that would explain a WHOLE lot!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 7:33PM
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Nancy zone 6

Nicking is really the best germination method, like someone else said, nick & soak in warm water will generally give close to 100% germination in healthy seeds.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2005 at 11:54AM
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I grow them all the time from seeds, never nick, never pre-soak, just stick them in a pot. They almost always bloom the first year. If I don't get rid of them all first.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2005 at 6:40PM
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adamsmom(zone 7b WTenn)

You don't have to nick them first, but I have found that they germinate faster if you nick them and soak them in water first. I hold mind with some pliers and use a steak knife to saw into them. Then I soak them in water in a clear glass on the window sill until a root shoots out. Then I put them in dirt, and they grow pretty quickly. If you start them early enough, they may bloom this summer. The ones I started last year didn't have time to reach full height by the time the first freeze hit.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 12:00AM
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Hey, can anyone tell us just how tall we can expect these cannas to get this year???

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 3:29PM
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I tried filing... not very fun, :) But using a pair of nail clippers works great to nick the seed in no time. Should have read your post first Ellen so that I didn't waste all my soil potting these seeds up. Next time Im gonna check for Viability first. Thanks for the Tip!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 9:50AM
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jenbug(9 FL)

Hwere do you get the seeds for canna? The flower- might seem silly but I do not know. I've been snooping around plants in yards and nursries plucking all sorts of stuff through out year here in FL. My Canna are about 2 ft now.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 7:26PM
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Karchesky Canna sells seeds to several varieties of theirs. Last year they were $3.00 I think for 6 seeds. I haven't looked this year.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 5:21PM
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pondmaninfl(z9 FL)

Hiya folks. I'm just visiting from the pond forum looking for information. My questions sorta expand on Jenbug's questions. I know that the seed is located at the base of each flower but is there just one seed per flower or is that a seed pod? The second question is how do I tell whether the seed is ripe and ready to harvest?

I don't need links to sites where I can buy them. My neighbor has Tiger cannas growing on his side of a fence and they have spread to my side and are blooming. I want to collect the seed so I can plant them some other places in the yard.

Oh, another question. Do you nick the seed like a lotus seed, anywhere on the side of the seed?

Thanks in advance,

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 2:23PM
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Scott, that is the seed pod and there are usually several seeds in the pod. Yes, you do nick them and I soak mine in water until it sprouts then plant it. Not all cannas produce seeds. You do know that you can dig the rhizome and divide it being sure to leave at least 2 or 3 eyes per, right?


    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 3:23PM
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pondmaninfl(z9 FL)

Nancy, no, I didn't know that. Cannas are the newest plants that I'm studying. Mainly, I sick with aquatic plants but these are versatile. I plan on digging a few if I can't sprout them from seeds. These cannas are producing a pod at the base of the flower. Would it do that if it didn't produce seeds?

There are so many things that I have never seen before that I'm seeing for the first time since I moved to Florida. Like elephant ears and aloe blooming.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 10:20PM
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dgower82(6 SE MI)

Trie a metal file, works well for me. Sometimes to well :(

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 5:42PM
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pondmaninfl(z9 FL)

Does some cannas produce seeds on the outside and not in a pod? The cannas that are growing in my yard from the neighbors yard have fuzzy like pods. I pinched one off today to have a closer look. The outside just crumbled off and there was hardly anything left as a pod. If anyone is familiar with arrowhead seeds, these pods are alot like them.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 10:19PM
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njoynit(Z8b Coastal ~secluded)

if a canna were to be the type to set seed.the green thing that forms after flowering will SWELL and get larger& then when it starts to turn will split and inside will be can take a month or so forom flower to finished seed. I grow some species(the small tubular flowered type)I have a red indian shot/indica& an orange one.I did not know lucifer set seed.i have 5+ of lucifer growing,but have never had it set seed.its about 2 2 1/2 ft.from a GW on here R_sad.
I have not actually grown any of my canna seeds.I've traded them off.So my question is do they grow same as parent?or will I get other colors?
I also grow some in my Florence Vaughns.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 10:04AM
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theinfamousj(z7 NC)

This is my first canna question, but I've got lots of experience watching them grow and bloom. Where I grew up, the strip of dirt between the house and the driveway had a canna forest (salmon small blooms). We'd always cut some of them down for mulch and I used to pick the seeds and use them in games of marbles.

Well, my father still has that house and when I was home last I noticed mature seedpods on the plant. I plucked a bunch (got well over 2000 seeds) and brought them home mostly for a trip down memory lane, but then I started to think about germination.

I used cat claw clippers to nick the seeds and soaked them for three days in what started out as hot, hot tap water but then cooled off (ie I didn't change the water every 5 minutes to keep it super hot). The seeds started to swell. Then I potted them up in soil. It has been 10 days and I'm seeing nothing emerging. I know it may be too early to start worrying, but I was wondering when was a good ballpark time to consider to be "too late"?

Also, should I have kept the water hot, hot all the time?

And should I have waited for an "obscene looking white thing" to come out of the hole?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 8:42PM
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skygardening(z9 FL)

Nick the seed (easiest way is with pet nail clippers) until you see a little white. Put them in a plastic, see through, bottle with a teaspoon of water (say for 6 seeds). Put the lid on tight. They should sprout in 3 days. Then plant in a 4" pot and keep moist. They should break ground in about 10 days or less. Remember that a seedling does not take on the name of it's pod parent. And that when you are trading, you should make it clear that it is a seedling or off spring from a seedling. It is not a clone of the parent like a rhizome would be. It may produce many Rogues (mostly reds) that make it not worth while if you are trying for that certain parent plant. This is what I have been reading about lately. And it is very important that it isn't passed on as a named canna.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 1:14PM
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desertrubble(z9 AZ)

Hi Scott, nice to see you over here. I'm not sure your question was answered so here goes- canna pods are not like arrowheads- the seeds would be inside. The thing is some canna will not actually produce a seed but will go ahead and produce perfectly useless pods- which is what you had that crumbled. If you have a canna that does not produce seed- it just won't. I do have one that produces the occasional seed, but about 95% of it's pods are empty, and others that just don't produce seed, and some that have 5 seeds in every pod. When buying canna you might do searches for some that produce seed if that's what you're looking for.

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 9:49PM
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Klodec(France 8b)

Funny though, we always hear of canna rhizomes, rhizomes division, to propagate Cannas.

I don't understand why the seedling method is not as popular as it should.
For me, all I can tell is that the EASIER way to propagate a Canna is simply by seed !

To answer clearly to the main question of this topic, Check this out :

The very First bloom was only a little less than 3 months after the seed sprout.
Now I have many new shoots, 6 to 7 of which are continuously blooming and producing huge amounts of seeds...

Here is the close up pic of the main stem, exactly 3 months after the seed sprout :

Ain't that AMAZING ?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 10:50PM
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Question, I purchased seeds of lucifer's torch and have had for a couple a years and still haven't flowered, any suggestions?? they are growing in pots and had them out all summer. Thanks

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 5:34PM
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desertrubble(z9 AZ)

That's very strange....have they been in full sun? are you fertilizing?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 7:02PM
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mrbrownthumb(z5 Chicago)

I was going to start a new thread and ask a new question I haven't seen here yet. I've collected some seeds from a canna, some of the seeds are perfectly round, smooth and hard. I came across some seeds that have divets, sort of like a golf ball all around the seed. Should I assume that these deformed seeds are not viable or do some cannas produce these weird seeds?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 11:59PM
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Thanks for the answer:) so does this plant need full sun all summer long? And what kind of fertilizer would you suggest. Does this plant flower indoors? Also it seems to take very little water,If i give it to much it starts losing it's leaves.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 1:12PM
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desertrubble(z9 AZ)

Brown Thumb, I don't know- wish I could help!

In zone 9 I have canna in full sun in the ground and I like an all purpose fertilizer- 15-15-15. Water too much? canna be kept as bog can't water too much. I would look for other reasons for the leaf fall off.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 8:42PM
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Thank you all so much for your postings. I have just gone out and readied my seeds to root. I'll be keeping these inside for awhile. I'll be moving soon and want to take some of the plants from here with me.

Again, thanks for the help! (I didn't even have to ask!)


    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 5:42PM
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ldeardorff50(z6 OH)

If anyone has any to spare,just give me a yell.I will take all I can get,seeds or otherwise.
The only thing I have to trade this year is mixed morning glory and red caster bean seeds.
We bought an entirely empty yard a year ago,and I had to start all over again from nothing.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 1:43AM
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bragu_DSM 5


I found that using the emory board nail files work well. Place the emory board on a firm surface (tabletop). Hold the seed firmly in your fingers and rub it back and forth until you see white. Then put in water, changing the water regularly. Eventually, they will sprout, and then you can put them in a soilless mix. I put mine in tiny individual peat pots, and then put like 4-5 peat pots in a regular pot with more mix, and put them in a zip bag. As you see growth/sprouts, begin to open the bag slowly over a couple of days/week (like african violet leaves) and then they can sit in the window sill.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2015 at 3:37PM
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