How to Grow Canna Bulbs

Yellow is one of the many colors of canna. image by Lori Downing:


Canna lilies are prized for their bright pink, orange and apricot flowers. Warm-weather plants, canna grow from rhizomes, often referred to as bulbs. Both the blooms and flowers are large, making canna a colorful substitute for small shrubs in your borders and beds. Leave the bulbs in the ground in warm climates where winter temperatures rarely reach freezing, and dig them up in the fall in colder areas to replant come spring. You can also grow canna successfully in pots or urns, eliminating the need to dig them up year after year.

Step 1

Choose a planting area with rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Improve soil quality and drainage by working compost into the bed to raise it 2 to 3 inches.

Step 2

Dig planting holes 2 feet apart in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Plant the bulb 6 inches deep, with the root side facing down and the side with the eyes (similar to those on a potato) facing up.

Step 3

Water thoroughly until the soil is soaked. Keep soil moist at all times during the growing season.

Step 4

Fertilize monthly with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer during the growing season.

Step 5

Mulch around each canna with an organic mulch such as wood chips. This preserves soil moisture and keeps weeds down.

Step 6

Allow the leaves to yellow and die back naturally in the fall. In warm areas, apply a fresh covering of mulch for overwintering. In colder areas, dig up the bulbs after the first frost of the fall. Spread out to dry in a cool, dry place, and then store in paper bags filled with peat moss until spring planting.

Tips and Warnings

  • Canna do not tolerate frost, so make sure all danger of freezing has passed before planting. After the initial soaking at planting, do not overwater canna lilies.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Trowel
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Peat moss
  • Paper bags


  • Easy To Grow Bulbs
  • Gardener's Net
Keywords: canna lilies, planting canna bulbs, summer rhizomes

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo by: Lori Downing: