A Pot Full of Cannas (page 4)
by John Richmond
There have been very few problems. Almost daily watering has been essential to support the lush foliage. Despite growing the Canna in a pot, slugs or snails did get in during a particularly damp spell in June. The result was a row of small holes across a few of the leaves where the pests had gnawed their way through a tight sheaf of foliage. Some of the lower leaves have grown tatty and needed to be cut away. Spent or weather damaged flowers don't fall naturally but need to be removed by hand. It might not win prizes at a show - but as a feature in my pool area the pot is impressive. It has brought large leafed, tropical lushness to my cool temperate garden.
I'm already planning for next year. In March I bought a dried specimen of the yellow flowered Canna "Louise Cotton" from the summer bulb displays at the garden center. I gave it the same window ledge treatment. Although far slower to develop it is now producing a stout single stem clothed with rather more pointed, dark streaked leaves. I don't expect flowers this year - but next year should be interesting. I may have to get yet another large glazed pot to do it justice.
There are many other varieties available to attempt. Yellow edged, red flowered "Lucifer", bronze leafed and red flowered "Le Roi Humbert", the gold and yellow streaked leaves of "Tropicana", and numerous others. When stocks build up I'll try some in my warmer borders, leaving them in the ground for the winter with a good mulch for protection. In my mild Zone 8/9 climate they should survive unless we have a bad year. I might even try some of the water Cannas, plants bred from aquatic species which will live as marginal plants during the summer months. Or maybe not. My pool is small and I already have an arum lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica "Crowborough", in residence to provide large leaves and exotic flowers.
Whatever I attempt Cannas will be a feature in my garden for years to come. Once they reach a reasonable size their rate of increase is impressive. Even with minimal facilities I now know that I can get them through the winter and into growth in the following spring. And they do look good, the combination of fine foliage and flamboyant flowers uniting to provide summer long interest in my small garden.
About the Author John Richmond is a keen gardener who lives and works in the South West of England. He has a scientific background as a professional ecologist. He has written occasional articles for gardening and other magazines in Britain since 1984, specializing in garden wildlife issues and hardy plants. Correspondence from other gardeners is always welcome.