No canna let 'em freeze!

hydroharold(Hudson Vly NY)November 3, 2006

Spent most of the afternoon scrambling to get potted cannas dis-potted, trimmed and put away in the cold cellar for Winter. Being lazy I always look for faster easier methods for chores and I found this one cut plenty of time off the job.

Instead of poking and shaking the rhizomes to clear the roots of soil and risk a nasty break I blasted 'em with water. After cutting off the stalks I turned the clumps upside down and worked the dirt out with hose nozzle set on a tight stream.

To keep mud problems to a minimum I did this over a 5 bal. bucket dumping the mud back into the garden when necessary. Works like a charm and it's quick. Right away you can see any bad spots on the rhizomes/tubers (which is correct?) that can lead to overwintering rot and correct them.

Now I've got 20 plants inside and the remaining 50 or so in the ground which I don't have to worry about just yet. But I "canna" think of a quicker method, can you?

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Boca_Joe(zone 7A)

I pull mine from the pots in one clump, cut down to about 6" , shave off the bottom half of soil, shave down the sides with the machete, and then split in half with machete- no regard for the rhizomes. I put the UNWASHED clump, with the soil attached, in 2.5 gallon ziplock bags and store cool (60) for the winter.

I divide in spring. I drag bags outside in April (they sprout in late Feb or March) and by early May most are 3' tall! They go right into the pots again.

I wash out the bags and use for 2 or 3 seasons.
The giant zip lock bags are a great one step method. I have had 100% overwintering/no rot since I have been doing this.

Boca Joe

    Bookmark   November 6, 2006 at 8:10PM
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hydroharold(Hudson Vly NY)

Boca Joe, sounds like I have a better system to try! I guess since when I buy the rhizomes they are almost clean and are packed in some sawdust I figured they should be cleaned for storage. But with as many plants still in the ground and the ground as wet as it is I'm sure going to try your method. Generally we don't have as much moisture in the ground and I can gently shake most all of it right out of the roots. Rain again tomorrow! Can you tell me a brand of ziplock bag to look for? I've not seen any that big in our grocery stores... one gallon is about the biggestr I've seen.

Thanks for the tip!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2006 at 9:56PM
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geekgranny(NC Tx USA zone8a)

Boca Joe, Do you close the bags up tight for storing? Also, how moist is the soil that remains on them? For instance, if it rains for a few days before I depot them should I let the dirt dry out any? Also, I have some very crowded Tropicannas in boxes, about 36" X 14", and one 16" foam pot. Could I just cut them off at about 6" and store in the pot, in the soil, at 60F or so in a dark area and then unpot and divide in spring? I've rigged up a huge dog crate with an electric portable cooler on top, drapped with plastic and a small fan to store some bulbs till planting. Could I put the pots in the warmer area of the crate? Thanks, geekgranny

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 12:08PM
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Boca_Joe(zone 7A)


Look carefully, the bags are available in 2.5 gallon size at TARGET, WALMART, and most grocery stores. I also buy the new ZIPLOCK XL and XXL plastic storage bags for the larger clumps ( same sources + Home Depot) (see link below). These Xl and XXl bags are great-you can usually store the whole clump and they have handles.

I have stored mine in a cool basement (55-60) and under the benches in my small heated but cool greenhouse-it stays about 45-55 under there most of the winter. These seem to be ideal temps. I don't usually close the bags until Jan or so, only if they dry out too much. The key is the COOL temps. Warmer than 6o or so , they will dry up. I rarely water them until they start rooting and pushing leaves in Feb/March.

Good luck!

Boca Joe

Here is a link that might be useful: XL bags

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 5:52PM
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chris_ont(5a Ont)

Here's an interesting storage method:
In the fall of 2005, someone left a cardboard box full of canna tubers (no soil, no roots) here at work for someone else to pick up.
This box was discovered in the spring, after it had sat on a shelf in an overheated classroom all winter. No one could remember whose these were, so we adopted them.

All of the ones that were planted in the soil grew and bloomed in spectacular fashion this summer :)

The ones that ended up in pots were a little stunted but, with proper storage this winter and a spot in the garden next season, I'm sure they'll make a comeback. I love these plants for their strong constitution.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 9:42AM
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I too have stored a dried up hard as rock clump in a trash bag in a box in a cool closet all winter. That was how they were given to me. I left the bag open for air. come spring, it took huge blasts from the hose to pry it apart. I duly planted about 12 nice clumps. Now my problem is, I have 3 banana boxes of neatly cleaned and separated tubers in my garage to store. Heaven help me when I dig those up next fall.
I had saved some seeds to try for fun. I threw those puppies away after I dug up the clumps. I have enough for 10 people right now!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 1:17PM
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After a light frost, I cut back the stalks to about 6", then use a spade to dig up the clumps. I shake off as much soil as I can, I leave whatever remains. I then fill the bottom of large 25 gal landscape pots with about 4-6" of peat moss, place the clumps on top (it gets crowded!) and fill in with peat...don't forget to label the pots.

I keep the pots in my garage, stays between 35F and 55F from Dec to Feb. I don't water because the root ball stores enough moisture.

I just moved the pots out of the garage and into the living room yesterday, giving them an early start before planting out in another 6 weeks or so.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2007 at 8:25AM
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