How to Subdivide Cannas When Planting


Canna lily (Canna spp.) is a summer and fall flower. The large leaves resemble a banana plant leaf. The leaves are green and striped with yellow, cream, orange and red. This upright, tropical perennial produces a 3 to 8 foot flower stalk topped with a red, orange, yellow or pink iris-like blossom. Canna lilies thrive in sites that have full sun exposure and good-draining soil. Canna lilies are used to brighten any sunny area with vivid colors.

Step 1

Dig up the canna lily clumps with a shovel, if the plants have over-wintered outside in a warm climate or remove them from inside dry storage after all danger of a spring frost has passed. Shake off the excess soil from the roots without damaging the rhizomes.

Step 2

Divide the rhizomes at their natural breaking points. Try to keep three nodules or eyes on the rhizomes. The canna lilies will grow best from strong, healthy eyes.

Step 3

Clean off the canna lilies with water, and then rinse with a mixture of one part bleach and nine parts water. This reduces the risk of plant disease lurking on the rhizomes.

Step 4

Dig a hole 2 to 3 inches deeper than the rhizome. Place the long part of the bulb horizontal to the ground. Keep the eyes on the topside of the rhizome when planting. Canna lily bulbs do not have a top or bottom, so do not worry about planting them upside down.

Step 5

Cover the canna lily rhizome with 2 to 3 inches of loose soil. Plant the rest of the canna lilies bulbs 12 to 24 inches apart. Flood the area with water in order to settle the soil and to trigger the spring growth cycle.

Tips and Warnings

  • Canna lilies suffer damage during freezing weather in the winter. After the first hard frost in fall, cut the leaves back to a couple of inches from the ground. Dig the rhizomes up and store them indoors in a box full of peat moss.

Things You'll Need

  • Canna lilies
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Bleach


  • Cornell University: Canna Lily
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension: Canna Lilies for Alabama Gardens
Keywords: canna lilies, canna bulb division, subdividing cannas

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.