Hello, newbie here. Could I get help with a Cana?

meyermike_1micha(5)September 24, 2012

Hello everyone. I had no idea this forum even existed after all these years. I have always wanted to give my yard a tropical look and never knew how.

I wonder if it can be done here in zone 5?

I am in LOVE with the black elephant ears and I have some growing now. It's the only tropical thing I have growing in my yard right now. I have thought of a hardy palm that does not grow that big, but not sure what kind.

My problem is that I do not know when to dig elephant ear up and how to store it. Any advice would be greatfully appreciated.

Thanks so much. I hate to see this plant go once the frost comes:-(

This is one of the most majestic plants I have. Nice and black with that rich green color as they darken right along the side of my pond. Oh, how I will miss it.

Thanks so much for looking.


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I posted the same question sort of. If I don't get an answer I'm going to wait until frost ruins the foliage and cut at ground level and mulch heavily with straw/fall leaves until spring. I think that is right anyway, I just asked in case someone has something better to suggest. I am zone 6 you are 5. Unless you get below zero F alot, I would try the cut down and mulch around the crown method. I am gonna use straw and fall leaves, wood mulch may hold in too much moisture. My zone 6 is warmer than it should be the last 7-8 years. If your zone 5 is frequently below 0 F you will probably need to dig up the roots/tubers.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 8:28PM
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If you are going to dig them ( I am assumeing there black magic by your description very hard to overwinter) dig them up and hose them off very well. seperate any small growth points you see and do them like you do the larger corm. cut off all the foliage as close as you can to the base. spinkle with sulphur powder ( keeps the rot away ) and let them dry out for a week or so in a cool spot. turn the corm sideways it will make them go dormant. once there good and dry store them in a cool place until spring..soak in warm water/peroxide for a day or 2 and replant whenever it gets warm. I keep mine seperated and labeled in brown paper bags full of sparghum moss in the house crawl space.. stays about 40 under there.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 12:28AM
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If your going to dig cannas its almost the same except they don't like to be completly dry. dig them and wash them as above keep them in somthing you can access easy and mist them once a month or so. there more tricky to keep dormant and not to let them rot. If you can do it once your set.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 12:30AM
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Mike, I grow hundreds of elephant ears and a couple thousand cannas in my yard each year. Sometimes I sell extra canna rhizomes to the local nurseries in the Spring. I have found the best way to store both are to dig them after a killing frost. Stick the rhizomes and elephant ear bulbs in some large black plastic garbage bags with added peat moss, placed inside some wax or plastic covered produce boxes you can usually get free from your local grocery store. The peat moss absorbs extra moisture from the roots, and keeps the rhizomes from drying out. Place the boxes in your basement in a temperature of about 50 degrees if you can. In lower temperatures, the rhizomes could mold and die. I never wash them due to the time it takes me to dig them all!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 1:34AM
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Hey I REALLY appreciate your ideas and experiences everyone!

I have a few options and I hope it works.

I was wondering. Has anyone ever tried the dig up and put in a pot method, by leaving in the dark and only watering when soil becomes dry, like maybe on a pinch of water?


    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:44PM
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you can dig them and throw them in a pot or bucket whatever but any time you water them and there isnt much warmth/sun you run the risk of rot. I have seen a bunch thrown in a box and not dried fully. all the sides that touched another bulb rotted and ruined most of the bulbs. dry and cool are the keys with colocasia.

with your black magics if you try to grow them inside all winter they will turn green until they get full sun again then back to black..just incase you didn't know

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:08PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Heythere, Mike. Hopefully you've gotten the Colocasia storage thing squared away from the excellent advice above.

You can also do dormant storage like this with Caladiums, Cannas, Gladiolus. There are also vines that can tolerate dormancy in a dark, cool, dry place, like Mandevilla and Bougainvillea. Not always successful, but nothing lost if you had the plants anyway and are just trying to save them.

Among hardy plants, look for unusual and especially large foliage, wild color, growth habit. Covering the trunks of mature trees with desirable vines like climbing Hydrangea and dutchmans' pipe can add to the look.

The more closely you pack things, the more tropical it will look. Avoid pastel flowers, which can make it look cottage-y instead, and go with lots of red, yellow, bright fuchsias, in jumbles, not what appears to be a thought-out plan.

Make use of seed vines and annuals that compliment your look, and wild-looking fast-growers like Perilla, Coleus, sweet potato vines, Persian shield, castor bean, and veggie plants that have a striking appearance. Peppers originate from the tropics afterall.

Then there are micro-climates, my favorites of which involve deep leaf piles and warm, brick areas, planting against foundation/basement walls, raised plantings, cold frame. More ideas in this one.

Then there's the removal of that which ruins the appearance, within reason, budget, property value, personal taste, sentiment, etc... of course.

I also think that butterflies add to a tropical appearance, so whatever you can come up with for nectar plants will help encourage them to visit. Some of my workhorses in that area are tall Zinnias and Basil. Couple bucks' worth of seeds makes large plants that attract them for months. When Coleus blooms they like those flowers too.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 2:54PM
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