Growing Canna Lily

Tropical Flowering Canna plants are wonderful additions to an exotic style garden. While cannas are often grown in Ireland they are not an easy plant to propagate or keep as they require a bit of gardening know-how to achieve healthy and luscious plants. But we gardeners like a challenge and the best way to learn how to grow and plant is to just give it a go

You can buy a Canna Lily from February to mid April in most good garden centres. Buying Canna Bulbs offer you a wider selection of varieties to choose from. The most popular cannas are the burgundy leaved Black Knight Cannas and the bright orange flowering Canna Wyoming. Best to buy your Cannas early as possible and plant them the moment they arrive

Cannas are difficult to grow in Ireland because they are native to tropical & sub tropical areas. They therefore require warm & humid conditions to thrive and they will not survive being left out in our winter weather.

To start your Canna Bulbs; plant them in large pots, Place a layer of grit in the base of the pot and then fill the pot with rich compost. Alternatively mix John Innes No. 1 soil with compost for a rich, well draining medium. Ideally Cannas will be sown in pots in March. Keep in a warm location in your greenhouse and ensure that the greenhouse is warm and night as temperatures should not drop below 10°C. Once you have planted your lilies soak well with water and add a layer of mulch over the top of the pot – this will keep the soil moist and insulate the pots a little bit

If you are concerned that your greenhouse will drop below 10°C then you should consider investing in a greenhouse heater such as a paraffin oil heater. Warm soil temperature is also important – you should measure your soil temperature regularly and adjust the position of the pots & add more mulch if the temperature is below 15°C

Once mid-May arrives you can transplant your canna lilies out into the garden. Harden of the plants over the previous week to acclimatise the Cannas to the different conditions in the garden.

Plant lilies in a sheltered spot, on a south facing slope or sunny spot. Improve the soil to give the cannas the best chance. Add well-rotted manure & mix in John Innes compost No. 3. The soil should be well draining but moist as the bulbs need a lot of water but don’t like sitting in cold wet soils. If your soil has poor drainage you can add a layer of grit, vermiculite to RHS bulb starter to the base of the planting hole prior to sowing. Water in well after planting out

Feed plants during the summer months and come mid-August they will reward your hard efforts and gardening skills with a colour of exotic blooms.

Cannas must be dug up and brought back indoors for the winter. Once the foliage has faded in October take a garden fork and lift the clump of bulbs. Bring the clump and soil indoors and repot into a plant pot and cover over with frost fleece or newspaper. Store in a cool, dark spot in your shed

By the following April its time to bring your Cannas back to life. Cut away the old foliage & repot the Cannas into fresh compost and place somewhere warm to ensure a slow & steady growth in early spring. Then like the previous year move out into the garden again in May