Canna from seed - percent success rate?

kelli08April 6, 2014


About 1 1/2 weeks ago, I prepped and planted canna lily seeds in two flats with 144 cells total. 2 - 3 seeds per cell (somewhere between 288 and 432 seeds) - indoors.

As of today, I've only gotten 59 healthy plants (about 2 - 3" tall) total. Today, I dug through the cells that didn't produce.

1. Some were rooting but 'stuck', in that they were still too hard to produce more than the root.
2. Some were still rock hard and needed to be scored again.
3. Some were rotten or moldy (those were thrown out).

I'd baked the soil prior to using; soaked the seeds in peroxide, and mixed pure cinnamon into the soil.

Is this still a decent outcome? Is there anything I can do to ensure the ones that have made it will continue to thrive?

About 8 years ago, I started a canna garden with only 6 seeds. I don't know why I'm disappointed in this outcome... 59 is better than 6/6.

Thank you for any responses!


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Canna seeds absolutely need scarification. You just sand the seed until the colour goes from black to a shade of brown. Once you soak them they should only take a few days to root and subsequent growth is amazingly fast

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 4:03PM
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Canadianplant - Thank you for responding.

I definitely scored them. First, I put them in a jar lined with sand paper & shook it like crazy. Then, I put them between pliers and made a good notch with a serrated knife from top to bottom. Soaked them for a couple days in wet paper towels before planting.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 4:08PM
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This is the third year I start Canna seeds and it is not going as smooth as the previous years...out of 24 seeds I've only got 5 plants and 1 of them died shortly after germination

...the previous years most seeds made it into healthy plants

I didn't do anything different so perhaps the seeds weren't healthy to begin with

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 1:20PM
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Maria - Have you been finding any fungus? I've been finding some in mine, although I followed all the protocol to keep this from happening. Those have no growth at all.

My new dilemma is how to safely transplant the 63 survivors into larger containers.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 11:42PM
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Hi kelli08,

I didn't see any fungus on mine, not even the white mold that I have seen in the passed (which did not harm the seed)

Here you can see the procedure I follow, and 3 of last year seedlings in bloom
I use small pots (from when I bought annuals) and plant one single seed in each one....makes it easier to re pot the plants.

"63 survivors" WoW!!
I can talk cannas all day long, too bad this forum has gone so quiet

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:45AM
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sherylgallant(Kelowna, BC z6)

63 canna babies! Wow! I would never have the time but I'd love to see the variety that you get!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 7:29PM
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My recent experience with two seed sources showed a difference in germination, with and without the scarification. The first three(from a 'Lucifer' plant) I just soaked several days, then planted in seed starting mix. One seed sprouted in 40 days. The better result was with a seed from a white flowering canna; I used a serrated knife -- from garden tools area, not kitchen -- and ran the blade across the top, holding the seed with other hand fingers. Soaked the seed several days, then planted in a pot with two coleus plants. Three days later(yesterday), I noticed a sprouting! Was really surprised at the quicker results. Could be different seed sources or lines of breeding take different times to germinate, but I'd like to think that the knife scraping method speeded the process. The wonders of nature and research, eh?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 2:55PM
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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.

my success rate seeing seeds sprout is about 60 percent (three out of five), but i plant the non-sprouted ones too, just in case. Usually another emerges.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2015 at 7:23PM
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