first canna to almost bloom! also a question on buying bulbs

arylkin(5b, south of Chicago)July 22, 2013

This is the first year I've grown cannas. My aunt gave me a little over 20 bulbs this spring, though they didn't all come up. I currently only have 13 stalks (although I have 2 little babies just coming up now). I planted them on May 27th and am amazed that I have one that's almost ready to bloom (from what she told me I wasn't expecting them until later in August).

I really like them, and am thinking of converting my front garden to a canna lily bed, although I'm going to need a lot more bulbs lol. In your experience, where's the cheapest place to get canna bulbs? Is it better/cheaper to buy in fall or spring? I'd estimate I'd need about 50 more bulbs, and though I really love them, I don't want to go broke lol.

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Welcome to the world of cannas. I hope others might make recommendations for their source but you need to delay any purchase until late winter/early spring (your area). In your area you will need to provide freeze protection for cannas. They are not to be treated as perennials in zone 5. If your aunt lives in your area she might provide necessary information (assuming she was growing cannas). If you have questions; do a search for winter storage.

Beware of purchasing cheap cannas anywhere due to virus disease issues. You might be quite surprised how many rhizomes you will have by the end of the growing season. If you are successful at overwintering your rootstock you could have at least 5 times the number of viable divisions next spring as you started with. I am not trying to throw a wet blanket over your enthusiasm but simply uttering a word of caution. From your photo, your cannas appear to be healthy and I simply want you to enjoy your canna experience.

The above comments may be well known to you but after seeing the photos on your blog I noticed that most plants were perennials. Congratulations on your first home; and a great start (lots of work)!


    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 11:54PM
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arylkin(5b, south of Chicago)

Thanks Kent. I was aware that I was going to have to store them, but I appreciate the warning! I've been doing some reading on the canna virus and it's worrisome (I was seeing great deals for bulbs on ebay and whatnot, but I guess there's no way to see if they're healthy).

I'll keep my fingers crossed that they might multiply like you've said- that would be ideal.

Things I've read say to not divide canna lilies until you're ready to plant them in the spring, would you agree with that?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 9:42AM
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Your information on dividing cannas in the spring is recommended when possible. All of us have limitations concerning storage but the more intact the clumps remain the fewer open wounds reduce opportunities for infection and moisture loss. Keep in mind that each different variety (cultivar) seems to be more/less tolerant of winter storage. I have had new cultivars that simply will not survive prolonged storage: those do not survive in the market place for long.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 1:17PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I also think you will be shocked at how much rhizome material you dig up this fall. When I lived in OH, I started with just a few pieces in one pot, stored them in the basement, and had bags of them after a few years. My Mom brought a few pieces to AL, where they've multiplied and made their way back to my yard here in AL also. The half-dozen pieces I brought over from Mom's last June (and put in a wrong spot) turned into enough to fill 2 5-gallon buckets as of about 3 weeks ago. Yours won't multiply as fast, being disturbed every winter, but unless there are problems with rotting, you should have more every year from the growth over summer.

The foliage also provides a lot of great fodder for compost pile.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 9:36AM
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Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))

Ditto what the southern folk said about cannas multiplying. They grow like mad even here. Some varieties spread faster than others. Since your aunt was able to give you lots, you probably have prolific cannas. So you have a good chance at getting your additional 50 for free. Plan to store them indoors over the winter. They may come back for some people in this zone, some winters, but no amount of protection will *guarantee* survival outdoors in this zone.

You can also grow cannas from seed. There are fewer varieties available as seed compared to the selection offered as plants, but it is cheaper. Especially if you swap for the seeds. Or save them from your own plants. Ask your aunt if she ever got seeds from her cannas. Some cannas appear to be sterile.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 4:55AM
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arylkin(5b, south of Chicago)

Thanks so much Edie! :)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 10:10AM
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