Canna Lilies

Canna Lily Orange Flower
Canna Lily Orange Flower

Bold foliage, colorful flowers and lots of varieties for sale, Canna Lily bulbs are a must for most gardens. In warmer zones they will overwinter in the ground, in colder areas they will require a little more care.

So if you think that easy care flowering plants with great foliage are hard to come by, Canna Lilies are one that is easy to grow and provides both foliage and flowers.

They are a tender perennial, even in temperate climates they can fade away almost completely during winter, however they do bounce back well in spring.

With flowers varying from white to yellow through to, orange and purple, and foliage from green to vibrant deep red, including some with variegated foliage, Cannas can make a real splash of colour in the perennial border.


General Care

Cannas grow from rhizomes and prefer a position in full sun in a well drained soil rich with humus and well rotted compost. Rotted cow manure is a great fertiliser for cannas.

Planting Canna Lilies

In the colder zones you can plant the rhizomes in late winter to spring in containers and keep them in a warm well lit position until the frost are over. This will give them a head start.

  • Rhizomes should be only lightly covered with soil at this stage.
  • When they are ready to plant out, the rhizomes need to be around 4 inches deep.
  • Choose a sunny position and a well dug, humus rich soil.
  • Plant the rhizomes and water in well.
  • Mulch well to retain moisture. Cannas can be cut back to 2 – 3 cm from the ground at the end of the flowering season (making sure to leave the new shoots alone as these will be next years flowers.

Cannas can be dead headed just below the spent flower. Pale and white flowering varieties are best shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

Cannas can make great foliage plants, and can look great in front of a wall or fence, or at the back of the border. They can reach nearly 6 ft (2 metres) in height so can also make a great background plant.

Over wintering Canna Lilies

In warmer zones, just cut them back to the ground when the foliage begins to die back.

In colder areas, cut back and bring container grown plants indoors. Or dig the rhizomes, cut back the foliage and store in a cool dark place until spring. Try storing in a light compost, coir peat or similar with just a little moisture.


With around 500 varieties available it is really the species and the well known cultivars that are sought after.

  • Canna warscewiczii with its red flowers, dark stem and clean mid green foliage is one to look for.
  • Canna altensteinii has deeper green foliage and orange flowers.
  • Canna indica ‘Purpurea’ has wonderful purple foliage and has been used widely in hybridisation
  • Canna glauca is a water loving variety.
  • Canna flacida has pale yellow flower, very thin and papery.

The hybrids are the most sought after and literally hundreds of them are available for sale.


Propagation is easy by division of established clumps in early spring.

Where to buy

Canna Lilies are available from the following nurseries

Possibly the best selection of Cannas and Brugmansia in the USA. Includes Cannas from hybridizers accross the world including Bernard Yorke in Australia. Also a fantastic selection of Brugmansias including a selection from Monika Gottschalk.