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How to Grow a Canna Lily From a Seed

By Sheri Engstrom ; Updated September 21, 2017
Red Canna Lily

Canna lilies or Canna generalis are exotic looking plants that are grown for their gorgeous flowers and striking leaves. Flower colors can include yellow, red, orange and pink. Generally, cannas grow 3 to 5 feet with some bigger varieties growing as tall as 8 to 10 feet. Cannas do well in full sun with moist well drained soil. They require watering at least once a week and fertilizing a couple times during the growing season. They can be used as accents, background plants or the smaller varieties can be used in container gardening. Cannas can be started from seeds under the proper conditions.

Prepare the Seeds

Where seeds develop

Nick the seeds with a nail clipper to break the outer coating. Soak the seeds in warm water for one to two days.

Soil mixture

Sow the seeds indoors a quarter-inch deep in a planting tray of vermiculite or regular soil mix, 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Keep the soil moist and at room temperature between 65 degrees and 70 degrees. Germination will occur in a week to two week’s time.


After they reach 6 inches tall, transplant the seedlings into individual pots filled with a well-draining potting soil. Lightly fertilize with a granular plant fertilizer. Keep the potting mix moist and place in a sunny spot.

Canna leaves

Move the seedlings to their desired location after the danger of the last frost. They can be container plants on a deck or patio or planted directly into the garden.


Things You Will Need

  • Canna seeds
  • Planting containers
  • Soil or vermiculite
  • Fertilizer and Water
  • Garden Containers


  • Cannas can be started from bulbs or rhizomes also. This is the more popular method as these are readily available in most garden centers.


  • Canna Lilies are a tropical plant. If planted outdoors before the danger of the last frost they will die.

About the Author


Sheri Engstrom has been writing for 15 years. She is currently a gardening writer for Demand Studios. Engstrom completed the master gardener program at the University of Minnesota Extension service. She is published in their book "The Best Plants for 30 Tough Sites." She is also the online education examiner Minneapolis for Examiner.com.