We grow our cannas cold climate Pennsylvania USA zone 6/5 at a higher elevation and where winters are cold but summers can be quite warm. Cannas grow very well here from May through October until frost takes them around Halloween. Our naturally rich Appalachian soil well amended with organic compost and our area's warm sultry summers lend to excellent yields each season.
Cannas are tropical plants that can be grown very well in many non-tropical parts of the world. Cannas are grown in summer in every state of the USA with their unsurpassed beauty enjoyed in both warm and cooler climates.
Our Canna Blog features our own gorgeous cannas as well as many older and heirloom varieties we also grow.
At the bottom of each page click 'Older' Posts' to go to the next page and scroll down to see them all. Enjoy the cannas!!
Canna 'Valerie' boasts full heads in intense solid red held above deep purplish leaves. Heavy bloomer. Excellent red canna. Excellent dark leaved red canna.
Medium height to about 50".
Hybridizer: Alice Harris, Karchesky Canna, 2010
We do sell the surpluses of our growing collection. For most of the season, our cannas are sent as plants already in leaf ready to go into your gardens or planters. Our shipping season begins in late March/early April as soon as warm enough in sw PA and ends when too cold again in early November. To order, check availability, or questions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 724-466-0979 Or visit our website at karcheskycanna.net
All hybrid cannas descend from three species: c. indica c. glauca c. flaccida
Canna heights (approximate): up to 3' dwarf 3-4 ft. medium to 6 ft. tall above 6' very tall
Cannas are tropical perennials that with a little care can be grown just about anywhere in the world.
Cannas can be planted outside in the early spring after the last frost in your area. Or in cooler climates they can be started sooner indoors or in a greenhouse to set out as plants when the ground and temperatures are warm enough.
Choose a sunny location with a minimum 4-6 hours of sunlight (the more sun the better) and prepare the planting area so the soil is loose and amended well with good compost. Plant rhizomes horizontally and approximately 3 inches deep and 2-4 feet apart depending on variety. If setting out plants, set them to their soil level and firm the soil around to hold in place.
Keep the beds moist. When new growth appears cannas can be watered more heavily and tolerate wetter soil. Keeping a thick layer of mulch around the plants will conserve water and keep weeds down. At this time, cannas can also be helped along by applying half strength liquid fertilizer, and also every other week or so to keep them going to enjoy them to their best.
.............................................. Cannas as Cut Flowers Canna blooms work beautifully in arrangements but last for only one day. Canna blooms are also not fragrant. Canna leaves work beautifully, also, and will last a long time in arrangements. Variegated and dark canna leaves are especially lovely when used alone or in combination with other flowers.
Variegated Cannas as Cut Flowers
Bouquet of Cannas
Keeping Cannas Growing Beautifully
Cannas are heavy feeders and respond well to extra nutrition and good watering especially during the strong growing months. Adding a little liquid fish emulsion or fertilizer every other watering will keep them growing strong. They can also be side dressed with good humus or a non-burning fertilizer every few weeks. If pests are noticed, take care of them immediately so they will not become a problem. Also, as a stem finishes blooming, the spent heads can be removed and cut back to the foliage of the plant. If the plant will still maintain its form, and the stem does not contribute to its beauty, it can be cut all the way to the ground. In a short time, a new shoot and stem will come up to take its place.
Cannas in Full Bloom in Summer
When The Growing Season Ends
In warmer climates zone 7 1/2 and above, cannas usually can winter in the ground right where they grow. However, in the cooler areas, they will have added benefit by adding several inches of mulch to the beds in fall as protection from possible freezing temperatures reaching them in winter.
In colder climates of zone 7 and lower, unless planted along a warm foundation, canna rhizomes should be lifted and stored in a non freezing place during the cold months. When frost takes the foliage and at some before freezing, cut the cannas down leaving a several inches of stem in place to use to handle the clump. Dig around the clump with a fork being careful not to damage the rhizomes and remove it from the ground. Shake some of the loose soil and place the clump inside a large drawstring stretchy trash bag. Bring the clump inside (45-55º F temps are ideal) where it will store, and fold the trash bag loosely over the top to let air circulate but keep moisture from evaporating, Check every few weeks and add a little water from a spray bottle if the clump is starting to dry. In spring the cannas will start growing again. This is the time to divide the rhizomes to be planted in pots and kept in a warm place to get them going, or if the ground is warm enough to plant outside and begin the season anew.
Canna Diseases and Pests
In the last years many of the world's cannas have become infected with viruses that spread easily and bring down the health of the plant even to where it will die.
Canna yellow mottle virus (badnavirus) CaYMV and canna streak virus CaYSV are two to bring the most concern. The easiest to spread is the canna yellow streak virus which in a short time will spread to all cannas grown in proximity. Many cannas have become infected all over the world even to cause several of the largest growers to close.
Keep a watchful eye when sharing or purchasing new cannas to not bring home virused stock. Grow your new cannas isolated from all your others until you can inspect for disease and to be sure they are healthy.
Rust will also infect cannas, especially in warmer humid climates where it spreads by spores. Removing and burning or bagging and trashing affected parts and then applying available treatments will help to control. Rust can also be seen in the humid months in cooler climates, but fortunately it will usually not winter over to the next season.
The greater (calpodes ethlius) and lesser (geshna cannalis) leaf roller can also affect cannas greatly especially in warmer climates. Japanese Beetles will also cause a lot of damage to canna leaves and blooms. Although several organic treatments are available and some insecticides will give good short term treatment, systemics work best for extended control. However, manufacturers are currently accused of these products contributing to colony collapse in honey bees. On that note, we will not use them. However, if you decide systemics, please use with discretion.
Aphids will occasionally attack cannas and can spread disease. Keeping a watchful eye and destroying larvae if you see is good prevention. Sprayed applications of soapy water will work well to keep aphids at bay. Keeping a watchful eye for any pests and nipping attacks in the bud is the best prevention to eliminate infestations.
Hail and High Winds
Hail can be one of the most devastating natural weather happenings to affect cannas .. and there is nothing that can really be done to prevent it. A hail storm can last only a few seconds but will shred leaves in an instant. Each growing season we pray 'no hail, please'. High winds will also shred canna leaves. Fortunate for us these happens have been far and few between.
Photo below shows a 60 second hail storm in April 2011 of varying sized particles ranging from pea to baseball size. Lucky for us our cannas had not been planted out yet :)
Hail Storm of Varying Size Particles
Growing Cannas from Seed
Growing Cannas from Seed can be rewarding and lots of fun.
Take a small file, small tip dremel, or sandpaper and a small pliers to hold the seed .. and nick the dark hard outer coat of the canna seed just until you see the white beneath.
Place the scared seeds in a clear water bottle or container and with a couple inches of hot-to-the-hand water and let them sit a couple days. Most will swell in size, and some may even start a small sprout.
Sow the seeds at this time in a good sterile seed medium and place in a warm out of hot sun area to germinate. Do not let the medium dry out. Cover the pot with plastic wrap, place inside a clear plastic bag, or sow small batches in a recycled soda bottle "greenhouse". Bottom heat is beneficial, but be careful the seedlings do not get too hot.
In a week or two, the seedlings will start coming up. Let them grow a bit, and then transplant to 4"- 6" pots to well establish before planting out to a sunny location after all danger of frost is gone.
Most cannas started from seed will bloom in the first season. If started early enough, they will even rival the performance of spring rhizomes.
Canna Seed Bank
Vintage Canna Seed Packets
Hummingbirds & Butterflies
Hummingbirds especially, but some butterflies also love cannas. From May through September we have many of both visit our gardens. Below are the canna varieties we have seen them frequent most often:
Hummingbirds: Ruby Throated Hummingbird-Archilochus colubris ***Pink Butterflies ***Yellow Butterflies ***musafolia Grande ***Lofty Lanterns ***Red Hat Lady ***Flame *** Robert Kemp **Pink Ribbons Red Futurity Angele Martin Lipstick Valerie Alberich Zulu Warrior Red Humbert Thai Sunray Pink Cloud Cheyenne Ermine Tropical Rose Henry Cuban Pretoria Aurorea Australia Mr. Darcy Bedazzled Divine Pink Butterflies: Swallowtail Butterflies: Polly Gay Thai Sunray Angelique Pink Butterflies Pink Perfection Angele Martin Ermine
Sulpher Butterflies: Yellow Butterflies
Swallowtail Butterfly on 'Butterfly Brocade'
How We Live Sustainably
Our farm practices sustainable agriculture. We grow and produce as much of our own food as possible, and we encourage our friends and neighbors to do the same.
We recycle all of our usable organic materials so excellent compost is always on hand. Rain gardens, roof gardens, and cover crops help protect from run off, and also provide food and cover for birds and wildlife. And our butterfly, hummingbird, and insectary gardens keep plenty of welcomed beneficials and pollinators right where we need them :)
Active planting beds are mulched with our own organic materials which replenish the soil, and also hold in moisture so less watering has to be done in the dry periods. We lasagna compost right in the beds, in established year round active composting bins, and we experiment in various methods of vermicomposting .. which has been a lot of fun :) We reuse and recycle as much as possible. Recycled newspaper is used for packaging.
Each season we contribute produce to our local pantry so those who cannot garden can share in the taste of fresh grown. If you have extra produce from your gardens, consider your local pantry or food bank for what you don't use. :)
Cannas in Snow ~ October 2011
Verses About Flowers ..
All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today. ~ Indian Proverb
Just living is not enough ... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. ~ Hans Christian Anderson
Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature. Gerard de Nerval
The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth,-- One is nearer God's heart in a garden Than anywhere else on earth. ~ Dorothy Frances Gurney
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. ~ James Matthew Barrie
This very moment is a seed from which the flowers of tomorrow's happiness grow. ~ Margaret Lindsey
Flowers are loves truest language. ~ Park Benjamin
To cultivate a garden is to walk with God. ~ Christian Nestell Bovee
To create a little flower is the labor of ages. ~ William Blake
Never lose an opportunity to see anything that is beautiful. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The heart that truly loves never forgets. ~ Unknown
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ~ Bible, Matthew, 6:28-29
Life is the flower for which love is the honey. ~ Victor Hugo
The 'Amen!' of Nature is always a flower. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
The love of flowers is really the best teacher of how to grow and understand them. ~ Max Schling
There is no sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me. ~ Thomas Jefferson
When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. ~ Chinese Proverb
So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. ~ Unknown
Flowers are our greatest silent friends. ~ Jim Brown
The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration. ~ Claude Monet
Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their homes. ~ Clare Ansberry
He is happiest who hath power to gather wisdom from a flower. ~ Mary Howittt
Where Flowers bloom, so does Hope. ~ Lady Bird Johnson
I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. ~ Claude Monet
In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends. ~ Kozuko Okakura
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~ Marcel Proust
Each flower is a soul blossoming out to nature. ~ Gerard de Nerval
Happiness held is the seed; Happiness shared is the flower. ~ John Harrigan
Be like the flower, turn your faces to the sun. ~ Kahlil Gibran
A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love. ~ Max Muller
The flowers are nature's jewels, with which she decks her summer beauty ~ George Croly
Friends are flowers in the garden of life. ~ Unknown
The flowers that sleep by night, opened their gentle eyes and turned them to the day. The light, creation's mind, was everywhere, and all things owned its power. ~ Charles Dickens
If friends were flowers, I'd pick you. ~ Anonymous
A flower is relatively small. Still in a way .. nobody sees a flower. So I said to myself .. I'll paint it big. ~ Georgia O'Keefe
Happiness is to hold flowers in both hands. ~ Japanese Proverbs
Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one. ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers also feed the soul. ~ The Koran
There are always flowers for those who want to see them. ~ Henri Matisse
What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. ~ Joseph Addison
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. ~ William Shakespeare
May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day. May songbirds serenade you every step of the way. May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that's always blue. And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through. ~ Irish Blessing
You can pick all the flowers, but you can't stop the spring. ~ Pablo Neruda
Flowers always make people happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul. ~ Luther Burbank
We are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. ~ Claude Monet
Some people, like flowers, give pleasure just by being. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Love is the answer, and you know that for sure; Love is the flower you've got to let grow. ~ John Lennon
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~ Albert Einstein
The flower that follows the sun does so even on cloudy days. ~ Robert Leighton
A flower blooms for its own joy. ~ Oscar Wilde
Bloom where you are planted. ~ Anonymous
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24
Allegheny Mountains viewed from the Canna Beds
Glorious PA Sunrise Over the Cannas South Ridge Farm