Cannas in Kentucky?

Hello! I have some cannas that we planted this spring. They have done beautifully, but I'm wondering how I need to winterize them. Some people have said that they absolutely need to be dug and brought inside, some people have said that they will do okay as long as we put several inches of mulch on top. Also, we have a few different colors. There are some pink (almost a salmon color), some red, and some yellow/orange. All of them have produced seeds (I've got about 100 seeds already). I've read that they should be nicked and soaked in warm water for several days, until the root sprouts. Is there anything specific I need to do until spring? Do I keep them in a cool place, dark place, etc? I'm near Louisville, I think we're zone 6. Any suggestions?
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On Sat, 2 Sep 2006 12:26:51 -0400, "amyky123"

Unless hybridization is done, cannas are rarely grown from seed. They are propagated by division of rhizomes.
If your climate is likely to go down into the 20s and stay there for at least 10 hours, you will lose your cannas. I live in USDA Zone 8b and mine do very well in the ground.
However, our ground never freezes.
The best way to store cannas over winter is to dig them up, dirt and all, put them into bushel baskets you can get from the produce department of most groceries and put them in a place which will be about 45 degrees.
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What Jangclub said is correct. But, if your cannas are planted next to something that retains heat, like the foundation of your house, you *might* get away with leaving them in the ground. What's the point, though? If you take care of the rhizomes by bringing them indoors, they get better and better each year. Why risk killing them?
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On Sun, 03 Sep 2006 00:19:18 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

When I lived up on Long Island, USDA Zone 6b, I had cannas on a south wall, which was white and they always came back...till one year we had sustained temperatures in single digits and the ground froze for a month. The rhizomes collapsed and turned into mush. So, it all depends on the average low.
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Jangchub wrote:

first thing, what you heard about growing seeds of canna are true. There was a tornado that ripped though Nashville a few years ago. my former boss, who had a large clump of my daddy's old fashioned "Indian shot" green leaf, red flowered, (about 14 foot tall when happy and mature) canna's that I'd dug her up years previous. When the tornado devastated downtown and then moved eastwards across the Cumberland River, it tore through a neighborhood called Edgefield. My former boss and garden friend lived in that area that got hit hard. The twister winds tore down trees, changed the old neighborhoods dramatically and in the process, sliced through the corner of her yard, destroyed the garage and deck (missing the house totally even though the deck was attached to that house.....) and kept on devastating. The following year, strangers from down the road about half a mile or so in a radius were stopping by her house which was at a major branching point. The people who stopped had noticed her clump of canna's that were still on the corner of her yard and they wondered if the reason they had canna's popping up in THEIR yards were because they were seedlings from HER canna's. My daddy's canna's wound up scattered, stratified by the harsh winds of a tornado and debris, and dropped along the route where they landed in humusey areas, germinated just fine and thrived and grew.
That was a bit drawn out but I thought I'd share.
If you're in zone 6, since your canna's are already planted, the question is how deeply are they planted? You can actually plant the plants deeper since you're already harvesting seeds. Cut the flowers off and enjoy them, dig up the plants and put them two shovels deep into the same spot, ammending the soil while you're at it. don't cut off the leaves,(they'll provide more protection later on) but you can pile six inches of mulch around the whole outside of the clump of the plants. Once the frosts kill back the leaves, you can either put a bag of leaves over each clump or throw some more mulch over the dead leaves as they'll protect the rhizomes too. The two shovels deep rule daddy taught me was usually the depth that freezing didn't get to in Nashville. I've dug up my dad's canna's in the past, and they had actually pulled down deeper than two shovels deep, they had gone as much as three. They never froze, even when we had temperatures of -18 that held for over a week in 1984.
Since yours are growing good, don't panic, there's no need to dig them up and bring them inside the garage. I have better luck with mine in the ground. But if you've ever successfully wintered rhizomes or bulbs through, then go ahead and do it that way. I know people who have no problem and great success. There's a trick to it with peat moss, but as good as I am, I'm not been successful and maybe someone can walk you through the process who has had continual returns.
Just know there are choices and that yes, a little soaking, a nick or actually just take some course sandpaper and scratch the seed a bit, and toss them into nice rich pots of dirt and wintered outside, or throw them in a spot you want them and put some leaves over the seeds and firm in with your foot and next spring, when the ground has warmed to 76o, you might find when you pull back the leaves carefully or checked the pots (they were mulched with leaves too as protection against cold) you might find seedlings of crossed cannas or exact babies of who they came from. It takes perennials about three years from seed to bloom, it would be fun to find out what you came out with. Keep us posted in what you decide. That's have the fun of gardening!
madgardener up on the ridge, back in Fairy Garden where my Bengal Tiger canna's and my daddy's old "Indian Shot" canna's are doing just fine in the gray water bog which overlooks English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36 (that's not to say that it never gets cold here, in 1984 I was told it went down to -24o!!)
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<snipped a little..>

Thanks! I remember that tornado.. I had a good friend that lived down there at the time.

Mine aren't really very deep. Is there a max to how deep I should plant them? I think I'll try leaving some in the ground, and bringing some in this winter. (in case the ground ones don't make it). I'll mulch really well and see how they do. Of course, if we have another mild winter, it may not be a good test.

I'm going to try to grow some from seed, just to see if I can do it. Thanks for the help! This is my first time growing cannas, hopefully I won't lose them!
Amy
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amyky123 wrote:

plant them about two shovels deep. (A spade shovel) that's about two foot deep. Since you have soil in Kentucky (unless you have clay......and if you do, it's STILL two foot)

If you have that many, that'd be neat to do. But since you're going to bring some in and leave some, I'd say dig up the clumps, take half and replant them two foot deep (it's still fun to dig and garden, it's even nicer now and fall is a good time to plant perennials). The other half, store them (don't forget to find some way to mark the color of the flower, either tie a piece of yarn in that color around the root or in a hole made in the pot on the upper edge, or some way to write the flower's color in permanent marker on a ziploc baggie. I'm burning out but there's neat ways to keep track of what color they are for next year so that you're not standing there with a bag or pot in hand of surviving roots of canna's and you won't know until they bloom what color they are! LOL

if you have a mild winter, thank the bastard child of Mother Nature and The Weather goddess's global warming or whatever it is (I suspect Mom's Nature does what the heck she wants to with or without these fleas on her skin........) watch for shoots in the spring, and lift the plants, and plant them DEEP (two feet at least, no more than three ) and amend your hole when you replant them. They'll love you for it, and thrive, grow larger and be more prepared to face a real winter if it comes. Mulch feeds and protects them and that will ensure that your canna's thrive every year. Look for OLDER established clumps of canna's in yards and see if it's an older person growing them. If so, be bold and ask how they got theirs to return each year. You might be surprised and learn not to mention older gardeners are wonderful for sharing and you might wind up with a toe or clump of them or something else and a good friend to boot! (that's how I met one gardening friend, by going up to her house and knocking and asking if I could possibly get seeds from her poppy when it dried out as they were the exact ones I'd been searching for. and my mentor and older gardening friends are notorious for sharing stuff and great information. That's how I learned how to winter my calla lilies through these winters here in Eastern Tennessee. and it's the same process. south or west part of the yard or area, even against the house if possible (not possible with my house) and mulched and planted not too deeply (calla's take exception) The south or western side is the trick for me here. And I've not had my first year return yet. Miz Virginia's calla's return for HER because of where they are (in the exact place I just told you about) she shared a tuber with me this spring. I'll keep ya'll posted if MINE returns. It's in the southwestern yard in a very raised bed in rich soil and will be sheltered during winter and have bricks radiating heat during winter from the BBQ pit fountain/gardens/stream bed/frog community/fish pond. The hardy ginger returned for me, but it hasn't bloomed yet. I suspect next year it will....we'll see about the canna.

I think you'll do fine. If you have so many, you could sow some outside and some in pots and even plant some in the spring. I suspect that your success will be mostly from the outside sowings, and the pots left protected outside.
Like I said, keep us posted. Or I'll watch for your update. maddie
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wrote:

Are you saying it's true or not true? I said growers rarely propagate cannas from seed. Is that what you understood me to say?

Canna's will perish in zone 6 if you have sustained temperatures in single digits for as little as 10 hours. The ground can freeze to 18 inches or more. If these cannas are ones you really like, I recommend my original suggestions.

Actually, I said to dig them up leaving the soil on the rhizomes and put them into a bushel basket.
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In maybe 5 out of 30 years, my canna rhizomes began to decompose (also known as composting!) in storage. Finally, I settled on a method recommended by a local nursery: Rinse off all soil. Let rhizomes dry for a day or two. Give them a light coating of sulfur powder the same way you'd dust chicken with flour. Store in a non-living medium like vermiculite.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

AH HA! (another good idea! thanks!) maddie
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Thank you. You're the first person to agree with about anything since last Monday.
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Jangchub wrote:

yes, my misunderstanding! >g< I assumed the lady was questioning if she should attempt growing them from seed and I misread what you actually said. My mistake. Somehow in my brain your just mentioning that growers rarely propagated cannas from seed just did a short in me brain cells. Sometimes I wonder what my mind is thinking!

I agree, the key word is sustained temperatures in single digits in that time frame, wheather daytime or overnight. But how long has it been since temperatures have gone down to single digits lately? If it's been ten years, I'd say just for safety's sake, to protect them as Mom's Nature throws a curve to wake us up when we get to complacent. Not knowing Kentucky's micro-zones I'm not familiar with the lowest temperatures in her region. She is. As a new gardener, it's always nice to give several options, and she apparently is going to do BOTH methods. (or should I say all three?) seed, bring in and leave some outside with protection. that's what I'd do myself, just to ensure I don't lose the original's, I'd be curious about the seedlings flower colors.
I still haven't located the hardy purple leafed canna that I see around here that has been here for decades surviving the coldest winters and has screaming orange flowers or deep velvet reds, but the leaves are all purplish green ones and no more than six foot in height. I've seen great clumps of them in obviously older neighborhoods around here and know they're an old fashioned canna (well, maybe not hundreds of years, but at least 70-100 years ago, especially when I see them in huge islands at ancient farmhouses tucked back off a main road here. (I still haven't located someone to ask for permission to get a toe of one of these, as it's not polite to poach and I have more respect for that. As a gardener, I noticed these canna's 14 years ago as I was first traveling around the inner country roads around here, trying to get lost (I did, many times, nothing like being totally lost and turned around at dusk in a new place). One day I will either see the ominous bulldozer, and go back and grab my Fiskar's spade to save a clump, or I will see someone's vehicle in the driveway and stop and ask for permission to dig a piece. Patience is on my side. And I might happen across someone in the mean time that has older purple leafed canna's and is willing to share. <g>

I musta blinked or was distracted by the hummer's outside my window taunting and teasing me with air shows. No disrespect there either. After you put the bushel basket in the garage, do you keep them totally dry or allow a bit of slight moisture besides the air's humidity to be introduced. My rhizomes in soil dried out to the point of total loss. A bit of watering got them growing in January, too soon and tired out the rhizome until it killed itself feeding off of too early. I have put them on the carport where it gets cross northern winds, indirect eastern light and westerly breezes and really indirect western exposures. And lost them. I have also put them inside the tool room where it's cool, never below 56o and dryer, and left them totally alone. Lights off, with only the faint glow from the small northern window up on the wall. The cold air seeps under the flood hump at the bottom of the old rusting out garage door and the room can get as cold as 35o no more though. The garage door has styrofoam of all things, and I've lost roots in that room, although the Clivia did like it there just fine......
I know why I lost roots that were sent me. It's too warm and dry upstairs for any rhizome or root to survive the winter, even in the nook where it's not over the rest of the enclosed house and has that lower exposure of the carport whistling under her skirts so to speak. I just wonder what I'm doin' wrong? (even madgardener's learn, I suspect that it's more than learning, I just don't have luck with some things! LOL )
Next canna's I get upon a whim, I'll try your bushel basket idea again and you will have responded before that and told me where I've gone wront. (seriously, I've not successfully been able to winter over rhizomes yet! I do better to let them live winter watered, in a sunny window and diligent of mealy bugs and then bumped into the gardens to thrive during summers and then repot into a larger container come fall than attempt keeping bare roots. But that's just me. I will try your bushel basket idea, because maybe since I've murdered my last canna root, I have attained more patience and diligence with sustaining it's existence. We'll have to do this next spring as there are no canna's to challenge me (unless I can find some scraggadly ones at Lowes......)
thanks for remarking back. maddie

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Do you have a Craigslist or Freecycle group in your area? Maybe if you posted a want ad to one of those groups, you could get lucky. You could always offer to trade... good luck!
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I grow canna out in the High Mojave Desert and while some years I have bad luck with them, there are many times I grow canna from seeds. My Thai Princess canna grows true from seeds and last year I was able to grow some of it's seeds to help me recover that canna from the bad winter of 04. This year because of the early hot heat, I did not plant any of it's seeds, I've even lost some young rhizomes because of the shearing baking we got hit with in July.
This year my main trouble for both my canna and my iris has been the hords of gophers from the open fields beyond my garden area.(100ft x 200ft)
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