Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Transplant Canna Lilies

pink canna lilly, image by mdb from

While they aren't true lilies, canna lilies add bold color to the garden. New or stored plants usually are transplanted to the garden in spring, as the plants cannot handle prolonged winter frost. Existing canna lilies are moved and transplanted in spring or early fall when temperatures aren't too hot. Whether you are transplanting new canna to your flower bed, or moving or replanting existing plants, it must be done properly to avoid damaging the plant.

Dig up the canna plants, if applicable. Loosen the soil around the roots with a garden fork, taking care not to damage the plant. Slide a trowel under the root and lift it out of the ground.

Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over a full-sun garden bed. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 analysis, at the rate recommended on the label. Till the compost and fertilizer into the top 8 inches of soil.

Inspect the canna rhizome for the growing eyes, which are small buds that run along one side of the rhizome. Sow the rhizome with the growing eyes facing up. Plant it so the top of the rhizome is 3 inches beneath the soil, spacing them 1 to 2 feet apart in all directions.

Water the newly planted canna until the top 6 inches of soil feels moist. Watering collapses air pockets in the soil around the rhizomes, enabling the canna to establish in its new bed quickly.

Spread a 2-inch layer of bark mulch around the canna to preserve soil moisture, maintain soil temperature and prevent weed growth—all vital for the canna lily to establish well.


In mild areas that don't experience winter frost, canna lilies may flower year-round. Dig and transplant canna lilies if they have foliage in place. Plant the rhizomes at the same depth they were at previously, taking care not to bury the foliage.


While canna can tolerate some frost, do not transplant if there is still a chance of freezing temperatures. Canna lilies cannot survive frost until they are established.

Garden Guides