Monday, September 2, 2013

The Tropical Canna Lily Brings Splashes of Color!

                                                                                           Labor Day week-end is usually the start of the Fall Season in most parts of the country. Schools start once again and by this time Mothers and children are ready to get back into the routines that have been established . In some parts of the country the color changes that come with the cooler weather are significant and this season was and is still my favorite one.

As I was walking through the Botanical gardens the other day I remarked on the bright, rich colors of the Canna Lily Plant, the brilliant  orange reminding me of the color changes that soon will be coming.

These pictures are of the Canna Lillies in my own yard, that came to me by accident and I have enjoyed them, gifted them to others and still they continue to stand tall and please the eye.  The Canna lily is technically not a true lily, they are more closely related to the Ginger plant . A tropical and sub tropical plant, native to Mexico, they require full sun and love a lot of water,  can even be grown in ponds. They are grown from bulbs or Rhizomes and more plants can be grown by dividing the Rhizomes. These Rhizomes spread under ground and if not controlled, plants will spring up everywhere if the conditions are moist.  The colors are glorious!  I have seen Peach, red, yellow and bright orange. There are tall species and dwarf species.  My Canna plants are all tall and bright orange. I was told the name could be "Wyoming", but that is a guess on my part.

Please remember I am not a horticulturist or professional Gardner, I am just someone who loves color and plants.-. Of course I have favorites and this could be considered one of them. This plant can grow to 6 ft or more and has large blooms on a stalk. The large  leaves on the stalk are very similar to the banana plant leaves. Sometimes the color of the leaves is just as beautiful in their own way. Red, garnet,  purples, but the leaves, on my plants are usually different shades of green. The plant below is a young plant and by next year will be 5 to 6 feet tall. Many of the blossoms have been "deadheaded and you can see where  new blossoms are coming. Last Fall I dug up the bed because it was terribly over grown. Divided the Rhizomes and gave them to others. My bed is now starting over, and my plants are young.
Mr. Dude fertilizes with a 10-10-10 mixture and we dead head frequently. These plants can be grown in large containers, but I prefer to plant them by our white fence. The contrast of color is very pretty. In the fall, probably October this year, we start to prepare for winter. Yes we do have Winter in this part of Florida.We are not as cold as Northern Florida, but on occasion we have had temperatures in the high 30s and this means a scramble to cover all plants in the ground, and rescuing the potted plants, which are also numerous. Our preparation, whether it is right or wrong, is to cut back the plants almost to the ground. They are not so vulnerable to the cold and the Rhizome is still  protected.
There are some fascinating things about this plant.  It is not just a "Pretty Face"!  The rhizomes have been used as a food source in many parts of the world.  Achira is the name of the starchy paste that is obtained from processing the rhizomes. It still is used today and some Asian countries make noodles from the paste.

Black or brown seeds form at the base of the blossom ( plants can be propagated  from these, but much  easier with the Rhizomes and I am all about easy)  some cultures have used the seeds for jewelry making, trade, and ammunition. Since so many of our plants in this part of the country can be toxic to pets and other animals, I was very pleased to know that this is a non toxic plant. The two resident bunnies , who have adopted my yard, are frequently seen eating at the base of the Cannas. I was not worried for the safety or health.  On occasion you may find a larva  nesting , don't be alarmed--shortly you will have butterflies enjoying your plant as much as you do.

If you know someone with a Canna  Lily plant, ask and you shall receive, I am sure that they will share a rhizome with you , which you can plant in the Spring and enjoy those wonderful colorful blooms most of the year! They will put a smile on your face and you will be blessed!




  1. Sandy, they're beautiful. My mother had a huge patch of reds behind her home in Knoxville. We have hidden & butterfly ginger lilies in bloom now. I love the scent of the butterfly lilies. Please give my regards to your rabbits.

  2. I will do that Jane. I would love to have the rhizome of a red. The ginger lilies are also so beautiful. Don't give me any more ideas,ha, ha.