My Cannas Dried Out Over Winter. Why?

corntobewildApril 18, 2008

I dug up all my cannas (like I usually do) after the first frost dropped the foliage in October in Wisconsin and stored them in the basement over the winter. I put them in white garbage bags filled with peat moss and did not tie them shut. Well, last week I looked inside the garbage bags and almost all of the cannas shriveled/dried up. There's hardly anything left to tubers. Any suggestion as to why this happened since it's never happened before in the 3 years that I've been planting cannas? Thanks for any suggestions!

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nightrider767(San Antonio)

Sorry to hear that! Is there a chance they may have froze?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 2:22PM
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No, they didn't freeze. We have a finished off basement and live down there half the time. It's usually between 50-55 degrees. I think for next year, I'll just have to check on them every month and mist them with a spray bottle or something.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 3:26PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

I have found, over the years, that peat moss tends to suck the moisture out of what is in it. I have stopped storing my tubers and bulbs in peat moss for that reason. What I do is dig them up, dry them to the touch, put on some bulb dust to prevent fungus, put them into recycled grocery bags, loosely wrap them, and put them into a cardboard box, and store in my wine cellar which is about the temperature which you mention in your basement.

I think the peat moss is the problem

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 11:22AM
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I agree that peat moss is the problem (Hi jroot). There was a burlap-balled shrub I purchased the year before last and perched under peat moss waiting, waiting, waiting for the husband to plant. Residual peat is still in that spot and not only will no grass grow there but water just bounces off it.

I did exactly the same in re the grocery bag and cardboard box and kept in my laundry room which probably gets no lower that 50 degrees at night in the winter.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 12:02PM
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This is great information for me. I have about 6 Cannas which I will have to store over the winter so just to be clear, the grocery bags you loosely wrap you Canna tubers in are they plastic?


    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 4:58PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

Stan, one can use paper bags if they wish. I use the "recycled" plastic bags. I don't wrap them too tightly though. If there is rot, then the plastic prevents it from spreading to the rest ( I didn't have any this year). At the same time, I don't want it to be like the saran wrap method which was promoted the past few years here. That did not work for me. I see the recycled plastic grocery bags as a compromise, and I am recycling yet again, and that is a good thing.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 6:57PM
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Hi corntobewild

We bought some yellow canna rizhomes in a bag from walmart last month. All the three rizhomes were dried and black in color. We thought we will plant it and see what happens. We did not have pots to pot them up. So we planted them in a cut milk can (used only bottom part of the can) with potting soil. After a month, with all the rain and warm weather we see some green growth.
You can plant them and see whether they recover instead of throwing them.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:07PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

Peat Moss definitely seems to be the culprit here. Someone mentioned home depot, if you look at theirs, they put them in wood chppings, and the same goes for wal-mart.

All the cannas that have started indoors so far, have sprouted, with the "cleopatra" being the one that has done well, with a growth of 3ft already in 12" pots.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 7:35AM
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Next time do this, Dig the tubers up, wash ALL the soil off, let them dry out a couple days, then get a water box (there very strong) from your local grocery store and put all the tubers in it. Put the box in a cool spot, Not by any heaters, nor by any cold drafty windows. Brown bags work to, but some times fall apart when stuffed.

Also your plants couldn't breath in the "white garbage bag" you had them in, Do not use plastic contains to, does the same thing as a Garbage bag. You really don't need Peat Moss.

This would be kinda weird for winter time, but if it is to moist for some reason in your house try getting a dehumidifier.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 1:26PM
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Thanks John for the advice. I had some beautiful Cannas last year and in the fall just got plain lazy and then I lost them. This year things will be different ( I hope )

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 4:41PM
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every year, with cannas, a portion of the previous years' tuber dies. this is normal. there should be some viable eyes present, while the dead portion remains.

are you sure that you did not simply overlook the living portions of the tubers? every spring before I'm ready to start my cannas, I remove lots of dead tissue.

i also agree that peat moss is a dangerous substrate to use. i have been using bark mulch for tuber storage and it works perfectly well.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 1:39PM
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nyssaman(Z6 ON)

My cannas shriveled up sitting in plastic bags sitting in a proper root cellar over the winter. I grabbed them all filled up the laundry tub with semi warm cold water and threw them in the tub for a week to saok( I think this is good especially for the water loving cannas). After that I pulled them out and threw them on a piece of cardboard on the basement floor - They are still sitting there waiting for me to pot them up. After the soak the tubers came to life again showing nice healthy white eyes - I do recommend this to anyone thinking their Canna may have bit the dust. I will probably pot them up in the coming week as we are having a bit of a cold spell this week and have no place to put them. Next year I will try to find large paper bags - I think plastic bags hold to much moisture with the possibility of rotting the tuber especially with the dampness of the cellar. I may try the bark mulch idea.



    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 9:30PM
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Excellent ideas. I agree that I think the peat moss was the culprit in drying out my cannas. This winter I think I will try storing them in paper grocery bags with nothing else in the bags but the cannas. This way I can easily look at them throughout the winter months. I also just got my order delivered from the Horn Canna Farm yesterday so I'm getting the urge to plant them. However, it's been so cold in WI lately that it looks like I'm going to have to wait until the end of May.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 10:49AM
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The cannas a friend gave me are dried out too. My question is would it better to start them in pots or in the ground? Certainly, if I decide I want some as pot plants, I'll start them there. But for ones that will be in garden, I'm not sure. One concern about starting in the garden is that a lot of plants are up 1-3 feet, and there's very little empty space. I don't want to step on them as they peek up. But the real question, what is optimal for the dessicated tubers.?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 8:32PM
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