Move a Canna Lily

wuppybob(Seattle, WA)August 30, 2007

I have a canna lily that has grown way too big for the spot I planted it. I would like to move the entire plant. What time of the year is best to move these things? It dies back to the ground in winter, but comes back bigger every spring. I live in Zone 7.

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greenguy1(z7 Maryland)

I would say you have two choices.

Either dig it in the fall, store in a cool, dark, dry place over the winter and replant in the spring.

Or (and this would be the preferred option from my point of view), since it overwinters for you in the ground, dig and move just as the new shoots emerge in the spring.

In zone 7 (at least in my Maryland zone 7), a canna that is not well rooted will not overwinter in the ground, which is why I don't suggest you dig and replant immediately in the fall.

- Steve

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 6:02PM
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Steve: interesting. I'm in Maryland too(but more like 6) , and didn't realize your "well rooted" comment. I kinda gave up on cannas, as I hated the chore of digging them up and storing them, but I may try them again. I'm assuming extra, extra mulching for the winter?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 8:40PM
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greenguy1(z7 Maryland)

Fayeraven -

I'm in Annapolis, Cannas don't seem to need any special help to survive in the ground here, and I actually get some zone 8 and higher stuff (society garlic, pineapple sage) to winter over in some of my south-facing microclimates. I say you have little to lose by trying to overwinter them. If you are a zone 6 and have some Cannas that have been in the entire growing season, I would put 6 to 10 inches of whole leaves or some other kind of loose, airy mulch over them and see what happens. Also, there was a recent (last 6 to 9 months) article in the Washington Post about how the USDA zones are creeping north, and now things that were iffy at best in the DC area 15 years ago are now clearly perfectly hardy, and the things that need some cold are having a harder time.

- Steve

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 5:02PM
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wuppybob(Seattle, WA)

To Greenguy--Thanks for your input. I think I will wait til spring to move it. I'm going to redo that whole section of my garden next spring anyway, so that will be perfect.
This is totally unrelated to the subject, but, I noticed that we have the same birthday. I have only met two people other than myself with that birthday, and I've met both of them in the last couple of months. Cosmic, huh?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 10:30AM
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If you feel your area is overgrown, simply cut them back to about 4 inches tall in the fall, after blooming is ended, and the stalks are turning brown. It will not matter if there is still some green in the stalks, but most of them should be brown.

Before that, collect about 14 one gallon size nursery pots.

After you cut the stalks put enough dry peat moss in a huge container that has been lined with a sheet or other type of cloth. Mix into the dry peat moss lots of water, until the peat is saturated. Once that is accomplished twist the top or ends of the sheet together, and use that to hold together the wet peat moss as you remove the wet peat moss from the container and let any excess water fall away. After that, keep twisting the sheet and pressing on it until all the excess water has been removed from the moistened peat moss.

Once the peat moss is just damp and no longer dripping wet, fill the 14 pots half full with the just moistened peat moss.

After that, with a garden fork insert it into the ground at least a foot or more away from the cut stalks. As you dig you should find that the canna's tuber has mutiplied in size and may be three or more times larger than the potted tuber you first planted.

Once you have the tubers out of the ground, shake and gently brush the dirt away from them.

You should see segments of new tubers which are growing off the mother tuber. Some you will be able to break apart. Others, you might have to cut off with a clean, sharp knife.

Once you get them all apart and have gently cleaned away the dirt from each of them; depending on how many you have, divide them among the pots with no more than three per pot. The larger tubers can be planted by themselves into one pot. Try to plant the root side down or the tuber lying on its side where the shoots can grow, pointing up. After you have nestled them down into the half filled with peat gallon pots, and divided the rest of the moistened peat to cover the just planted tubers; if you find that there is not enough peat to fill the pots, then use the same process described above to make more.

When the pots are filled with the moistened peat, move them into an unheated garage or any other cool storage place which is dark for most of the day. It should also be a location which does not encounter temps which drop to freezing and below in the winter.

After the potted tubers are in place, every month of so check the pots to make certain they have not dried out, Water them if needed, but only often enough and slighly enough to just keep the peat in the pots moist, but not wet. If you see water dripping out of the pots that means they have too much water in them and need to be drained better so the tubers do not rot.

Then wait until your early spring, last, late freeze risk is over before you move the pots to a shady spot outside, prepare your planting bed, and plant them. Any extras you find that you do not need can be given to friends.

The ones you plant in their beds, this next spring, should grow and bloom all summer and fall. They probably will not need to be divided again until after another two years. So in that following fall simply wait till the leaves die. Then cut them back as you did the previous year. Only this time, instead of digging and storing them, you should remove all the weeds and debris from around each cut stalk, and then cover the entire bed with at least 6 inches of shredded bark mulch.

Every week, over the winter, check to make sure that the stalks remain well covered with mulch, and whatever else you need to use, to keep them from becoming frozen.

In the following spring, after the last date of any possible late freeze risk, remove the covering and clear away any mulch and debris. At that time, cut and clear away any dead stalks. All you have to do then is to check them periodically so you will know when they begin to shoot up their new green growth. Once you begin seeing green new growth, you should make the effort to fertilze and water them regularly, as needed.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 9:43PM
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I'm just west of Atlanta and in zone 7. I inherited a good number of canna lillies when I bought my house three years ago. However, they are not blooming. They keep coming up, but no flowers. I suspect they are not getting enough sunlight. One batch is right next to a hydrangea and the hydrangea is thriving, so I'm sure the canna must not be getting enough light. What would be to consequences if I went ahead and transplanted them now? I don't mind not getting flowers this year, as I probably won't anyway, but I don't want to kill the plants....But I need to move them when I have the motivation, if I can :)


    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 11:34AM
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