All About the Canna Bloom Cycle

When I started my garden in 2009, Canna cultivars were some of the first “pass-along plants” I received, and I was thrilled!

Red Canna (Presidential series cultivar) 7/29/13

Cannas are herbaceous perennials with broad, flat leaves that grow out of a stem in a
long, narrow roll and then unfurl.

Canna Wyoming Foliage, 7/23/13

After 6-9 leaves have opened, a flower stalk grows upwards through the leaf bases…..


…..and flower buds form at the terminal end.

Canna Wyoming, Perimeter Garden/Vinewall, 7/26/13

To keep these plants blooming, remove any withering flowers along with the shoots from which those flowers were borne.  Usually, a second flowering shoot, (growing from the node below,) will be halfway in bloom already.   This next image may help you visualize it better:

Canna Cleopatra, 7/23/13

By working your way down the stem and removing each spent shoot in turn, the canna can channel energy and nutrition to any buds forming on the lower nodes.  Finally, when there are no more shoots to open, cut the stalk at the spot where it first emerged from the leaves. This final “snip” signals  the underground rhizome (roots) to “spread out” and begin the leafing/stemming process anew.

Canna leaves are covered with a waxy substance that repels water. This inhibits most diseases from establishing themselves despite the high humidity and rainfall where these plants typically grow.

Canna Wyoming

We’ve had an extremely muggy, rain-drenched summer and for the first time ever, some of my cannas have developed the unsightly disease known as Canna Rust.  Spore-like, orange spots are visible on some of the leaves and stems.  As the infection progresses, the upper parts of the leaves turn  blackish-brown, dry up, and fall off prematurely.  Here’s an example:

Red Canna suffering from Canna Rust, 7/23/13YUCK!  Spraying with copper fungicide and removing the “bad” leaves is the only treatment, both of which I’ve done since taking this photo.

I’d hate to leave you with an image of an unhappy plant, so here’s Canna Cleopatra, earlier this month:

Canna Cleopatra, 7/18/13

Until next time…….

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂


21 thoughts on “All About the Canna Bloom Cycle

  1. They are very rewarding plants and enhance most gardens… my only dislike about them is their tendency to proliferate at the demise of surrounding smaller plants… they tend to have a bit of an evasive nature…

  2. They’re gorgeous flowers but weren’t exactly cut out for Illinois gardens when we lived there. 😉 Hopefully you’ll get a chance to dry out before any hurricanes decide to visit!

    • I have to admit I was shocked to read people grow these in northern zones! I never saw one in any yard in MA., and I don’t recall noticing them in VA. either. Do many people grow them in metro D.C?

      • I remember some in northern Illinois. Can cannas be lifted for the winter? Or maybe people grew them as annuals? I see some here in MD and DC, but always in protected areas and usually near a south-facing wall. I’d bet the microclimate in those areas could tip the balance into a warm enough zone, maybe with protective winter mulching.

        • People DO lift them in colder locations like New England/NY/NJ and the Midwest, but my God! What a ridiculous amount of work that would be!
          I think you’re right about the ones you’ve seen on south facing walls.
          Another not-so-well-known fact: plants that are pushing the boundaries of cold hardiness for their locations, have a good chance of survival when the winters are warmer than normal. 3 consecutive years of warmer than normal winters is what it takes. After that, they can pretty much withstand whatever the next cold season throws their way.
          So much of gardening is luck!

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  5. Not clear on how it’s flowering. From the top down you say? But here a picture which show that buds are above it.
    Boy, the flowers are gone in a a day or two.

    • I’m so sorry I didn’t get back to you the first time you asked!
      I did re-read this post and I agree: I should have been MUCH clearer.
      I’m glad you didn’t dig them up, too!

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