How to Start Canna Lilies


Canna lilies have large banana-like leaves, which range in color from green to maroon or gold. Their flowers bloom for several weeks in the summer in a multitude of vibrant colors including orange, red or yellow. Canna lilies grow from underground root stems called rhizomes and are ideally planted in United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 12 in the spring, after the last frost. In areas without frost, they can be planted any time.

Step 1

Choose a spot in your garden that is in full sun, which in gardening terms means it gets at least gets six hours of sunlight each day. If you choose a spot in partial shade, the soil should be slightly sandy and have not have any grass and weeds growing in it.

Step 2

Cultivate the soil by tilling the top 12 inches of soil and mixing in 2 to 3 inches of organic matter, such as leaves, compost and well-composted manure.

Step 3

Plant canna rhizomes on their sides--with the eyes on top--4 to 6 inches deep. If there are no visible eyes, just lay the rhizomes on their sides. Space cannas anywhere between 12 to 24 inches apart, depending on the height and width of the variety.

Step 4

Pack down the soil around the rhizomes and water the area with 1 to 2 inches of water. Cover the site with 2 to 3 inches of mulch in USDA plant hardiness zone 8 where temperatures may dip to 0 degrees F.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic matter
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Canna Lilies for Alabama Gardens
  • Easy to Grow Bulbs: Canna Lily Growing Information
Keywords: start canna lilies, growing canna lilies, plant canna lilies

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.