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When to Plant Canna Bulbs in the Spring

By Contributor ; Updated September 21, 2017

If you're looking for a larger flower for your garden, consider planting cannas. Cannas are exotic-looking plants with brilliantly colored flowers. The stems can grow upwards to 4 feet tall, above large paddle-shaped leaves. The blooms form a large spike in colors that are mainly yellow, orange and red with some varieties having colors that are a combination, spotted, streaked or splashed. Cannas are grown from bulbs knows as rhizomes in the spring.

Starting Canna Bulbs Indoors

Cannas will bloom sooner from bulbs/rhizomes started in a frost-free greenhouse. Depending upon their size, plant the rhizomes about 3 to 5 inches deep in a container filled with rich potting soil. Water to settle the soil around the bulb. When the last threat of frost is past, generally May or June, they will be ready to transplant.

Prepare the outdoor planting site several weeks before moving the cannas outdoors. Cannas need an open, sheltered spot in full sunlight. Dig the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches and mix in generous amounts of compost or organic matter.

When it's time to plant the cannas outdoors, dig a hole that is larger than the container. Remove the canna, being careful not to disturb the rhizome or roots. Place it in the hole so that the rhizome is still 3 to 5 inches below the surface. Fill the hole with soil and water thoroughly to settle the soil and remove air pockets.

The cannas should begin blooming soon after transplanting.

Direct Planting Outdoors

Cannas can be planted directing into the garden once all threat of frost is gone and the weather is warm, usually around May or June.

Prepare the outdoor site several weeks before as you would if you were transplanting potted cannas.

Plant the bulbs/rhizomes 3 to 5 inches deep. Cover with soil and tamp down to remove air pockets. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.

Keep the soil moist at all times, but not soggy. Apply a layer of mulch to help the soil retain moisture. Once the flower buds form, give them a high potash liquid feed about once a month.

Winterizing the Bulbs

Cannas bulbs are considered tender and should be protected from cold winters. Lift the bulbs from the ground in early fall, before the first frost. Blooming Bulb recommends storing them in a box filled with "sand, vermiculite, or peat moss. Store them in a dry well ventilated area at 45 to 55 degrees F. Replant in spring." "The Complete Garden Flower" recommends slightly moistening the sand and warns against allowing the bulbs to dry out, as it will cause them to shrivel.


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