Instructions for Planting Canna


Canna lilies have multi-colored foliage and prolific flowers in a range of colors. Belonging to the Cannaceae plant family, cannas are not true lilies, but are just as attractive. They are well suited to growing in containers and look especially nice around swimming pools, where they add a tropical look. They also grow well in the garden with plenty of sun and water. Cannas are frost tender, so if you live where winter temperatures drop below freezing, dig up your cannas in the fall and store them in a cool, dark place.

Step 1

Dig a generous amount of compost into your planting area after your final spring frost. For a planting area 2 feet by 6 feet, use a full five-gallon bucket of compost.

Step 2

Plant your cannas in a large flowerpot if you prefer. Select a standard potting soil and mix a generous amount of compost into it before filling your pot.

Step 3

Dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deep for each canna rhizome you plan to plant. Dig your holes 12 to 18 inches apart. If you're planting in a container, one canna plant is usually all you will need. To help your cannas grow quickly, dig 1/3 cup of a 12-4-8 fertilizer into each planting hole.

Step 4

Place one canna rhizome horizontally into each planting hole and then cover it with more soil/compost mixture.

Step 5

Fertilize your cannas once every month starting in early spring with a plant food containing 5 percent nitrogen. Apply two pounds of this fertilizer for every 100 square feet of planting area, or calculate how much to use based on your total square footage.

Tips and Warnings

  • Control slugs and snails, which can eat the leaves and flowers and cause your cannas to not only look bad, but to decline in health.

Things You'll Need

  • Starter plants
  • Rich humus soil
  • Compost
  • Large flowerpot with drainage hole (optional)
  • Potting soil
  • Sunny location
  • Fertilizer


  • Ruby Glen: Canna
  • Gardeners Supply: Growing Cannas
  • University of Florida Extension

Who Can Help

  • Ordering info
Keywords: canna lily, tropical flowers, landscaping tropicals

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, and She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.