You Can Grow Colorful Cannas

Cannas are – circle all that apply – colorful, tropical, large-flowered, bold, brash, bright, sometimes gaudy, glorious, short or tall, a glorious garden plant.
I hope you circled them all, because cannas are all the above!  Plus very delightful and very variable.

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Cannas love our warm Southwest summers, but they do best with some afternoon shade on those bright days.

Cannas in the Southwest

If you have an entirely desert landscape, cannas won’t look right in your landscape. But – if you are like most of us in the Southwest – you have an oasis zone in your low-water landscape (we used to call ’em xeriscapes), thus cannas will fit right in. Cannas also grow well in a water garden. So yes – you can grow cannas in the Southwest.

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Canna ‘Tropical Rose’ the All America Selections winner for 1992. Photo courtesy of AAS.

Lush Looking

The broad flat leaves of cannas are typically solid green but some cultivars have maroon, bronzy, or even enchantingly variegated (striped) leaves. Also fascinating to behold is how the leaves emerge. They grow out of a stem in a long tapering roll and once fully grown they will unfurl.

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Canna ‘South Pacific Orange’ the 2018 All America Selections winner. Check out those luscious leaves! That much lushness will need the water provided by a water garden in the Southwest. Photo courtesy All America Selections.

Canna Flowers

While the leaves are wonderfully striking, the flowers are stunning. Almost like a living tiki torch, the flame colored flowers appear on a long lasting spike. Individual flowers sequentially grow in an upwards spiral in vivid hues of crimson, scarlet, golden, yellow, orange, or a sunrise blend of all of these colors.

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Grow Colorful Cannas

Here in the Southwest, cannas grow best in full sun to afternoon shade. Provide ample water. Plant in well-drained rich to slightly sandy soil. Cannas do well in containers, but be sure to select the right pot for the final size of the variety you have. The large leaves can act like a sail and pot that is too small can tip over on a windy day.

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Cannas will die back to their below ground rhizomes for the winter. Don’t throw them away! Once the soil warms up they will reappear.

I grow cannas for their colorful flowers, for their lush leaves, and because – in the summer at least – they help shade the fish in my water garden!

Please share your comments below.  Let me know what you need help growing in the Southwest.

Free for Spring 2020 – PDF guide to the Top Ten Pollinator Plants for the Southwest

garden-soule-southwestSee more about gardening on my Gardening With Soule Facebook page.  Or consider one of my books, like Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press).  This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit “Tierra del Sol Institute” may get a few pennies.

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