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I don't dig them up, but are the alive?

Posted by ticksmom419 z7 NC (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 21, 06 at 10:43

Morning! In my zone, we don't have to dig up cannas to overwinter. But I grew them for the first time last summer and am trying to figure out how they'll show up again this year. 3 were planted in a bed, but only 2 have sprouted so far this year. The strange thing is that all 3 showed signs of life last month, during a strange heatwave, but then the sprouts shriveled and browned. Now the 2 that have leaves growing have sprouted in new locations from where the shriveled sprouts had been growing. And none of it is where the cannas grew last year! Do they develop a sort of dead center and grow from offshoots of the rhizome each year? So that they always move around? Or is something else going on?

I have another canna of the same variety as the first 3 that I planted in a large planter. I left it over the winter, too. But it has no signs of life. Our temps have been pretty warm. And I would have thought that they would wake earlier in a container than in the ground. Should I dig up the rhizome to see what's going on? (And isn't that the bummer about planting perennial items in a planter? You can't dig out something that dies without really hacking into the roots of the plants around it!)

Thanks for your help.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: I don't dig them up, but are the alive?

I'm having the same difficulties as you are experiencing.
Most of my cannas are almost a foot high with a few exceptions. One canna that is a "no show", I dug up to see if it was's still firm so I re planted it. With the warmer nights and days we are having...there's still no sign of life. I hate to lose these as I paid a good amount of money for them... can't explain what went wrong...they were active last year. Could be it's like watching the water to just seems to take longer. . . at least I hope that's the problem.
Realize this was no help for your situation, however, you are not alone
Kind Regards,

RE: I don't dig them up, but are the alive?

I would dig them up and see what they look like, especially since you have some coming up already. I'm in Baltimore and I usually dig mine up in fall b/c of lots of clay. Most rot if I leave them in. This year I left several in the ground where drainage is pretty good. I dug some up and they are firm but not the nice creamy white color I was expecting like ones dug up in fall. They're very dark but so is the dirt they are in. Are these still viable rhizomes or a lesson learned? It's still a little cool here to expect them to be coming up yet.
Any comments are greatly appreciated.

RE: I don't dig them up, but are the alive?

I'm in AR zone 7 and mine are all up except the Cleopatra and I think something ate it as it has a large hole next to where it was planted. I left them all in the ground. Sometimes they over winter here for a couple years and then die but I sure hope these don't do that. Last year I dug them up.


RE: I don't dig them up, but are the alive?

ticksmom, this is my first year having cannas survive in the ground outdoors, and I am finding the same thing as you - the sprouts are not where I expected. Since the tubers form big clumps, it would make sense that new plants would sprout from the outer edges of the clump, which is what I think I see happening outdoors. I know when I store the tubers, the outer ones seem to sprout best.

As for the containerized cannas, the roots are more prone to freezing because the container is above ground and not insulated by the earth. The general guide is that a plant in a container is one to two zones less hardy than in the ground, which puts your cannas in the equivalent of a zone 6 or 5, which is iffy at best.

bananananny, I'm in Westminster and I have many shoots up in the ground already - actually some have been up for a week or two. I have clay and I usually lose them to rot too, but it was a warm winter and a mild spring.

RE: I don't dig them up, but are the alive?

I'm seeing my canna start to peek up through the soil in zone 6. It was planted next to a garage wall and maybe the warmth of the garage over the winter helped.

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