How to Plant a Canna Lily


The Canna lily, from the Cannaceae family, is a tall, striking, exotically colored specimen that brings tropical beauty to any garden setting. Once a favorite of Victorian era gardens, Canna lilies are popular in many countries because of their imposing foliage and eye-catching colors. Hundreds of Canna cultivars exist, classified by height. Pixie, dwarf, medium and tall Canna lilies produce a rainbow of single and bi-colored blooms paired with striped, variegated foliage that resembles the leaves of banana trees. Imagination is the only limit when including these beauties in the landscape.

Step 1

Choose a location that offers full sunlight and well-draining soil. Canna lilies can tolerate more water than most plants but will not survive in a constantly soggy location.

Step 2

Test soil at the planting site to determine pH levels. Canna lilies will not tolerate highly alkaline soils, and should be planted in a location that offers neutral or acidic soil with a level of 7.0 or lower.

Step 3

Amend the soil with a blend of organic compost and sulfur, at a depth of 2 to 4 inches, if the soil is too alkaline. When applying sulfur, follow manufacturer's directions for rate of application. Compost acts as a neutralizer, while sulfur helps to loosen the soil and lower the pH level. Sand may also be incorporated to improve drainage.

Step 4

Wait until all danger of hard frost has passed for the season before planting Calla rhizomes. In zones 8 through 10, Canna lilies can be planted as early as mid-March.

Step 5

Dig 4- to 6-inch deep holes, spaced 12 inches apart for dwarf varieties, and 24 inches apart for larger varieties.

Step 6

Place the rhizome in the hole horizontally, with the slight curve and eye facing upward.

Step 7

Cover the Canna rhizome with 2 to 3 inches of soil and water generously to saturate the planting site.

Tips and Warnings

  • Discard any damaged rootstock or rhizomes to prevent diseases such as Rhizome rot from invading your Canna collection.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil testing kit
  • Sulfur
  • Organic compost
  • Sand
  • Canna rhizomes
  • Garden spade
  • Water
  • 5-10-5 Water soluble fertilizer


  • Canna Lily Growing Information
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Canna Lilies for Alabama Gardens
  • Floridata: Canna X generalis

Who Can Help

  • How to Test Your Soil and How to Change the pH Level
  • Canna Indica Purpurea rhizome (Picture)
Keywords: growing canna lilies, canna lily bulbs, Cannaceae family

About this Author

Deborah Waltenburg has been a freelance writer since 2002. In addition to her work for Demand Studios, Waltenburg has written for websites such as Freelance Writerville and Constant Content, and has worked as a ghostwriter for travel/tourism websites and numerous financial/debt reduction blogs.