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Cannas, The Versatile Tropical

Looking for a unique plant to add to your container gardens this year? One of our favorites here at Winterberry is the Canna. Known for its dramatic foliage and brightly-colored flowers, this tropical is sure to add some pizazz to any planter or landscape!
One of the things we especially love about Cannas is the variety of foliage colors found on the many different types of Canna. Some have deep burgundy leaves while others have bright green and even striped leaves! In addition, if the foliage alone isn’t striking enough, Canna flowers typically last for several weeks. The boldness of the red, orange or yellow flowers presents quite the dramatic appearance against the colorful foliage.

Cannas are considered a tropical plant in our climate, which means they cannot tolerate night temperatures cooler than 50 degrees. As a result of their tropical nature, they love the hot, humid weather and will thrive in full sun conditions, but they can also survive in part shade. These tropicals are so versatile. Cannas can be used as the centerpiece for your container garden, planted right into the landscape to add instant drama during the warmer months of the year, and even added to your water garden! Many people are surprised that the same Canna you plant in a container, can also be a great addition to your pond or water garden, but it’s true! You can place the pot that your Canna is planted in directly into your pond to make quite the impression. Simply add some stone to the top of the pot before you place it in your pond.
Out of all of the ways to incorporate Cannas in your landscape, we mainly use them as centerpieces in container gardens. As a result, we have some great suggestions for companion plants if you do select a Canna as your container’s focal point. When choosing some companion plants for your Canna, you want to keep in mind the watering and light requirements of the many different annuals available. Since Canna prefer full sun and moist soil conditions, you should opt for annuals that like the same. Also, since the Canna is an upright grower, choose annuals that have a more trailing habit to give your planter an all-around finished look. Petunias, Million Bells, and Sweet Potato Vine will provide great color contrast against the foliage of Cannas! There are truly so many other choices though. Verbena, Lantana, Bacopa and even some Licorice plant are just a few you could choose!
One of the most common questions we receive about Cannas is: How do I overwinter my Canna? Since Cannas are tropical in our climate, they will not survive the winter if left outside. You can, however, keep the Canna bulbs or rhizomes and replant them the following year. In the fall, once the foliage is hit with a frost and the leaves have turned yellow and begun to die back, cut back the foliage so that about 2 inches remain above the ground or soil where they are planted. Carefully dig out the rhizomes or clump of rhizomes. Rinse off any excess soil around the rhizomes to prepare them for winter storage. Once they are rinsed clean, be sure to let them dry completely in a well-ventilated area. You can wrap the rhizomes in newspaper or paper bags and store them in a cool, dark, humid place with good ventilation over the winter, like a basement or a fruit cellar. Be careful not to store them in a place they might freeze like a garage or attic. The following spring, you can replant your Canna into your landscape or planter!
Next time you visit Winterberry¬†Garden Center, be sure to check out our Canna section in our greenhouse. You won’t want to leave without taking one home!