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How to Kill Canna

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017
Dig up canna if it is taking over your yard.
Canna Leaves image by Jennifer Grush from Fotolia.com

Canna lilies are delightful flowers, and few species of flower can rival the burst of color they lend to summer gardens. But if they have overgrown your garden or otherwise outlived their welcome, eventually you may find it's time to get rid of them. Since canna lilies grow from an underground rhizome, killing them is not as easy as cutting back the foliage. It may disappear for the rest of this season, but it will be back next year, as vigorous as ever. To permanently get rid of canna lilies, you must literally get to the root of the matter.

Water the soil thoroughly the evening before you dig. This will loosen and soften the soil, making the canna bulbs much easier to dig up.

Cut the canna lilies' foliage back before you dig. This beauty's leaves can get quite large and you'll have an easier time of it if they're out of your way.

Use a spade to dig around the canna, a few inches away from its base. Once the soil is loose enough, remove the bulb by pulling it out by the foliage stub you left behind.

Use your spade to dig around the hole that used to house the canna bulb in a circle that is 1 foot or so in diameter. There may be some bulblets or bulb pieces in the soil next to the parent bulb. Remove these pieces or they will grow new canna bulbs next season.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Spade


  • Cut the canna bulbs into small pieces and compost them, throw them away or give any undamaged bulbs to one of your fellow gardeners.
  • Canna lilies can be killed with an glyphosate herbicide, but it will take several applications, likely over several seasons, to kill the canna lilies.
  • If you live in growing zone 7 and above, leaving your canna lilies in the ground through the winter will kill them.

About the Author


Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.