While not a true lily, canna produce similar, exotic-looking blooms in the home garden. Canna are a tender perennial rhizome plant, often referred to as a summer bulb. Rhizomes are root systems that are grown and divided similarly to bulb structures, though they do not store nutrients in the same way. They do not survive freezing winter temperatures, so in colder regions they must be dug up each fall and replanted in the spring after frost danger has passed.
Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over a well-drained, full-sun garden bed to add nutrients to the soil. Add a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 analysis, to the bed at the rate recommended on the label, and till it and the compost into the top 8 inches of the garden bed.
Examine the canna bulb, or rhizome, to locate the growing eyes. These resemble small protrusions, similar to the eyes on a potato. Plant so these growing eyes are at the top of each bulb.
Dig the planting hole deep enough so the top of the canna bulb sits 4 inches beneath the soil surface once planted. Set the bulb in the hole then refill the hole with soil. Space canna bulbs 12 inches apart in the garden.
Water thoroughly after planting so that the soil feels moist to a 6-inch depth if you stick your finger into it. Water as needed throughout the growing season to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Lay a 2-inch layer of organic mulch over the canna bed after planting. Mulching prevents weeds and preserves moisture in the soil, which is vital as canna does not tolerate dry soils.