How to Divide Canna Lilies


Canna lilies are tropical and subtropical perennials. They produce leaves that resemble colorful banana leaves and showy flowers in ivory, yellow, rose, salmon, crimson and red. Dwarf cultivars grow to almost 2 feet tall, and tall varieties grow to 6 feet tall. Propagation of canna lilies is commonly achieved through division. This is done every one to three years to prevent overcrowding. If overcrowding does occur, then it can cause poor leaf growth, few blossoms and poor plant nutrition.

Step 1

Using your shovel, dig up the entire clump of canna lilies in the spring, only after any threat of a spring frost is gone.

Step 2

Shake off the excess soil from the rhizomes without damaging the roots. Carefully brush off the dirt so you can see the eyes (growth nodes) on the rhizomes.

Step 3

Break the rhizomes into pieces with three eyes each. The canna lily rhizomes have natural breaking points. Discard the old rhizomes that do not contain any eyes.

Step 4

Clean and rinse off the canna lily rhizomes with a bleach solution of one part bleach and nine parts water to reduce the risk of plant diseases that may infect the canna lily rhizomes.

Step 5

Replant the rhizomes 1 to 2 feet apart, depending on the type of cultivar. Dwarf-type canna lilies are planted closer together than tall types.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not leave the flower shoots on the canna lily. If the flower shoot is not removed after the flower wilts, then all the nutrition and energy will go into producing seeds. Deadheading the canna lilies will encourage them to bloom all summer long.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Canna lilies
  • Water
  • Bleach


  • University of Florida IFAS Extension
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Keywords: canna lilies, divide rhizomes, propagating canna lilies

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.