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Canna Lily: Complete Plant Care and Growing Guide

Canna lilies are vibrant, tropical plants known for their lush foliage and striking blooms. These low-maintenance perennials thrive with proper watering, temperature, and soil conditions. Here’s everything you need to know to grow and care for canna lilies in your garden.

Quick Facts

  • Botanical Name: Canna
  • Height: 2-8 feet (0.6 – 2.4 meters)
  • Spread: 2-6 feet (0.6 – 1.8 meters)
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Soil Requirements: Neutral, Well-Draining
  • Hardiness Zones: USDA Zones 7-10
  • When to Plant: Spring, Early Summer

Canna Lily Care


Canna lilies require ample sunlight to thrive, needing at least 6-8 hours of direct sun daily. While they can tolerate intense light, in very hot regions, they benefit from some afternoon shade. Insufficient light can lead to taller, leggy plants with fewer flowers.


Consistent moisture is crucial for canna lilies. Using drip irrigation or soaker hoses helps keep the soil evenly moist. Water deeply at least once a week, especially during dry spells, to maintain their lush appearance.

Temperature and Humidity

Canna lilies are well-suited for warm, humid climates. They thrive in prolonged heat and can tolerate high humidity. Outside their hardiness zones, cannas are treated as annuals unless their warmth requirements are met.


Plant canna lilies in well-amended, well-draining soil. Good drainage is essential to prevent waterlogged conditions. Though they prefer neutral soil, cannas are adaptable and can thrive in various soil types.


Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer annually in early spring as the plants start to grow. Liquid fertilizers can be used during the summer, but stop fertilizing once the first buds appear to encourage blooming.


Canna lilies require minimal pruning. Remove spent blooms (deadheading) to maintain a tidy appearance and encourage more flower production.

Problems, Pests, and Diseases

Common diseases affecting canna lilies include aster yellows, bacterial blight, leaf spot, and rust. Monitor for signs of infection and treat promptly. Pests such as slugs, snails, and Japanese beetles can also be problematic.

Planting Canna Bulbs

Canna lilies grow from rhizomes, which should be planted in late spring to early summer once the soil has warmed to at least 65°F (18°C). Plant the rhizomes with the growth eye facing up, about 2 inches (5 cm) deep. Water well after planting and wait for new growth to emerge.

Growing Canna Lily from Seed

Cannas can also be grown from seed, though this method requires patience. Germination rates vary, and special seed treatments may be necessary. Plants grown from seed may take several seasons to establish and bloom.

How to Deadhead a Canna Lily

Regular deadheading helps extend the blooming period and keeps the plants looking neat. Remove spent blooms to prevent seed pods from forming and to encourage the production of new flowers.


Cannas can be propagated by division. Divide the rhizomes in fall when the plant is dormant. Dig around the plant, lift the rhizome, and cut it into sections, ensuring each piece has viable growing eyes. Replant the divisions in the garden or in containers.

Growing Canna Lilies in Containers

Cannas grow well in containers. Use a pot twice the height and width of the rhizome and fill it with high-quality potting mix. Water well and place in a warm, bright location. Regular watering and fertilizing are essential for container-grown cannas.

Canna Lily Winter Care

In USDA Zones 7-10, cannas can remain in the ground if the soil has good drainage. In cooler zones, lift the rhizomes after the first frost, cut the plant back to the ground, and store the rhizomes in peat or vermiculite in a cool place (above 40°F/4°C) until spring.

Canna Lily Varieties

Popular canna lily varieties include:

  • Apricot Dream Canna Lily
  • City of Portland Canna Lily
  • Crimson Beauty Canna Lily
  • Los Angeles Canna Lily
  • Tropicana Series Canna Lily

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Canna Lilies Spread?

Yes, canna lilies spread by producing new rhizomes. Over time, this can lead to overcrowding and reduced flowering. Divide the rhizomes every 3-5 years to maintain healthy growth.

Will Canna Lilies Bloom More Than Once?

Canna lilies bloom throughout the summer. Regular deadheading encourages continuous blooming. Remove faded flowers promptly to extend the bloom period.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the stunning beauty and tropical charm of canna lilies in your garden or home.

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