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
specific I need to do until spring? Do I keep them in a cool place, dark
I'm near Louisville, I think we're zone 6.
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.
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?
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.
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
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!!)
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
I think I'll try leaving some in the ground, and bringing some in this
(in case the ground ones don't make it). I'll mulch really well and see how
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
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
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
Like I said, keep us posted. Or I'll watch for your update.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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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