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How to Care for Canna Bulbs

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017

Canna lilies are a tall growing tropical plant that presents large leaves and bold blossoms. The perennial plant is native to South America and grows from a rhizome similar to the small lily of the valley plant. The plant is available in the flower colors of red, orange and yellow with all varieties having showy multi-colored leaves that remain a garden focal point once the flowering is complete.

Care of Canna Rhizomes

Locate a planting area that has full sun and a well draining soil. Tall cannas varieties will also need wind protection to prevent damage.

Plant cannas in spring after there is no longer a danger of frost and the soil has started to warm up. Work the planting area by tilling to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. Add compost to the ground while tilling to increase the nutrient quality and moisture retention.

Dig a hole that has a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Mix bone meal into the soil to fertilize the canna rhizomes.

Place the canna horizontally in the hole and cover with soil. Press the soil firmly and water thoroughly. Plant the rhizomes 1 to 4 feet from each other to prevent crowding.

Apply a layer of mulch around the canna rhizomes that is 2 to 4 inches thick. This will assist with moisture retention and weed control.

Water the plants frequently during the summer months when the rainfall amounts are less than one inch per week. Cannas prefer a moist soil.

Place stakes around tall varieties of canna to keep them in an upright position.

Remove faded flowers to promote new blooms.

Cut back foliage to 6 inches in fall after the frost has killed the plant. Carefully dig the rhizomes from the ground and remove excess soil. Line a box with plastic and fill with peat moss. Place the rhizomes in the peat moss making sure the rhizomes do not touch.

Store canna rhizomes during the winter months in a dry location that is 45 to 55 degrees F. Replant the rhizomes in the spring after the danger of frost has ended and the ground begins to warm.


Things You Will Need

  • Canna rhizomes
  • Shovel
  • Tiller
  • Compost
  • Bone meal
  • Mulch
  • Water
  • Stakes
  • Hand pruner
  • Plastic lined box
  • Peat moss


  • Plant the canna rhizomes in garden locations where tall plants are needed as a focal point.
  • Cannas are hardy in USDA growing zones 9 and above. Dig and store canna rhizomes in all other growing zones to prevent cold damage.

About the Author


Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.