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How To Grow and Care for Canna Lily — Best Guide

How To Grow and Care for Canna Lily — Best Guide

How To grow and care for canna lily?

Canna Lilies are eye-catching plants with large flowers, similar to those of iris, in the colors red, orange, or yellow.

Their leaves are large and look and are the size of a banana plant, which only adds to their beauty.

Most of them are emerald green, but you may even find purple or red leaves in some.

They are the sole genus of flowering plants in the Cannaceae family –which, by the way, has ten species!

They can grow to heights of about 3-5 feet tall and 1.5-6 feet wide.

Sometimes, if you are lucky enough, they may even grow up to be 8 feet tall.

If you want to grow them, you are at the right place.

Everything you need to know about them – from planting to growing to blooming – is mentioned in this guide.


How To Grow and Care for Canna Lilly

Canna Lilies are hungry plants that grow their best in hot and humid weather, moist soil, and full sunlight. Their watering depends on where they’re planted, but they need consistent water for optimal growth. They can be propagated by seeds or division and are not too challenging to look after.

How To Grow and Care for Canna Lilly

How To Grow and Care for Canna Lilly



Canna Lily Growing Guide



Canna Lilies don’t demand any strict requirements of the soil.

However, they grow best in rich, fertile, and moist soil. The pH range should ideally be slightly acidic to neutral or between 6.0 to 6.5.

They need consistent moisture to grow well. But there is a line between moist and soggy.

Make sure you don’t cross that line!

The soil you’ll use should be a well-draining one, with temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).

Even if they are not too demanding, why not provide them with the best so that they grow into their beautiful selves?



Canna Lilies thrive when you place them in full sun. That means they require 6 hours or more of sunlight.

They can work with partial sunlight.

But if you want beautiful green leaves and fully bloomed flowers, full sunlight is the best choice.

Canna lilies thrive under full sunlight for a minimum of 6 hours and a maximum of 8 hours

Canna lilies thrive under full sunlight for a minimum of 6 hours and a maximum of 8 hours

However, if you live in a boiling hot area, find a place that provides them with shade during the afternoon. The sunlight is intense during that time, and those plants need something to protect them from it.

If you fail to do so, their leaves might burn, and their flowers fade.

Lilies thrive in full sun, so make sure to give them a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight every day. Although, I would suggest up to 8 hours per day.



The watering depends on where the Canna Lily is. Usually, cannas need consistent water.

So you should be watering quite often, but not too much that the soil ends up getting soggy. Otherwise, it can put them at the risk of fungal diseases and rot their roots.

However, if it is planted in partial sun, it will need less water. Their leaves will start cracking if you do not give them enough water.

It can be confusing how much to water your Canna lilies. So here’s my advice.

Just make sure that the soil does not dry, and you are good to go!

Water them at least once per day.

They typically need around 7 liters of water every week. But during the hot days, water them more.

Just remember: Ensure the soil stays moist all the time!



Because of their habitat, Canna Lilies prefer hot temperatures. They cannot tolerate cold temperatures.

There should be constant warmth to encourage complete growth.

Ideally, the temperature should be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius both at night and during the day.

The best time to plant your Canna Lilies is during spring or the early part of summer. If the required heat isn’t provided to them, their growth slows down.

If you don't provide your canna lilies with the heat they require, they'll grow much slower

If you don’t provide your canna lilies with the heat they require, they’ll grow much slower



After reading everything yet, you must have already guessed the humidity requirements. That is right – Canna Lilies enjoy humid weather.

They can tolerate dryness as long as they are adequately watered. But humid air is ideal!

These plants thrive in USDA hardiness zones 7 and above. They are grown as perennials in hardiness zones 8 and above.

Whereas, in hardiness zone 3, Canna Lilies are grown as annuals.



Fertilizers play a massive role in the growth of these plants.

These plants are hungry, but can you blame them? I’m a hungry person too!

They require a lot of fertilizer monthly to get the complete bloom. They especially love compost and organic materials.

You can give them slow-release Canna Lily fertilizer with high phosphate contents once a month.

They need their phosphorus. It allows them to have optimal health and grow reliably.

Fun fact: Canna Lilies actually store some of their food in their rhizomes!

You can give them liquid plant food as well.



There are two ways you can propagate Canna Lily. One is through seeds, and the other through rhizomes.

However, the better option is rhizome division. Why?

They have a history of crossbreeding and hybridization. So who knows what it ends up growing to be?

Also, it is way simpler.

But if planting by seeds seems a better option for you, it’s your choice. Let’s go step by step for each method so you may decide for yourself.


By Seeds

  1. Collect the seeds from the mature pods of a viable specimen. You may find this usually between mid to late winter.
  2. Nick the seed and put it in water for 24 hours.
  3. Plant the seed ¼ inches deep in a container and mix one part coconut coir with one part sand. Cover it with plastic.
  4. Keep the pot where the soil will be 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), so it can germinate properly. You will notice sprouts coming within a week or two.
  5. Take off the plastic. Take the seedlings to an area where they can receive six hours of direct sunlight every day.
  6. Once they are around five inches tall, you can transplant them outdoors.

If you plan on directly planting it outdoors, the process is the same. Just make sure it is when the threat of frost isn’t imminent.


From Rhizomes

  1. Find the segments where the offshoots are. They are smaller and bulb-like nodules and have an eye on the top.
  2. Cut between the nodule and main rhizome. I suggest doing so by using a sharp garden knife. Make sure you remove it with at least two growing points.
  3. Now wait and watch the Canna Lilies grow!


Extra Tip

If you live in a frosty climate, cut the Canna Lily’s foliage and stem to 6 inches. This way, you can save the cannas for next season.

Allow the rhizomes to dry in a spot with shade after digging them up.

Once they are dry, shake the excess oil off. Cover the rhizomes in newspaper and store them till spring.



You can expect them to take about weeks before they begin sprouting. And they take around 10 to 12 weeks to bloom fully.

Here are some tips I gathered for you to ensure your Canna Lilies grow to their optimal level:

  1. The best time to propagate through rhizome division is either after you dig up the bulbs or in the spring.
  2. If you plan on using the seed method, sow them indoors in Mid-February.
  3. Never let the soil be dry – that will be the end of your precious plants!
  4. If you want to give your Canna Lilies a little push, I suggest using the 5-10-5 or 10-10-10 fertilizer two to three times while they grow. For the right amount, check the product label’s instructions.
  5. Place the Canna Lily’s rhizomes 2-3 inches deep in the soil and not even a little more. It can hinder growth.
  6. To avoid issues of overcrowding, better divide the Canna lilies every 2-3 years.
  7. Your Canna lilies will grow faster if you keep them warmer.


Common Problems with Canna Lily

The problems are never zero when it comes to growing plants! Likewise, there are some common problems they might encounter.


Leaf Roller on the Leaves

You may notice some black droppings on the foliage. This happens when the leaf roller tries to hide and feed on the plants by pulling together the leaves.

Leaf rollers try to hide and feed on the leaves of your canna lilies, eventually making them appear like black droppings

Leaf rollers try to hide and feed on the leaves of your canna lilies, eventually making them appear like black droppings

Maybe instead of black droppings on the leaves, you may notice the leaves are stuck together.

To prevent such a thing from happening, invest in a suitable insecticide.


Snails or Slugs

Snails or slugs in the plant usually cause holes in the leaves.

You can identify snails and slugs on canna lily leaves as they create holes on their leaves

You can identify snails and slugs on canna lily leaves as they create holes on their leaves

You can either remove them yourself by hand. But to prevent them from coming back, horticultural oil will do the trick!



Aphids are tiny bugs that love to suck on your Canna Lily’s sap. They usually leave a sticky liquid that can lead to curling leaves.

Aphids are known to suck on the sap of your canna lilies' leaves, ultimately making them curl

Aphids are known to suck on the sap of your canna lilies’ leaves, ultimately making them curl

Get your water hose out and wash them away. If you believe it is too severe, use insecticide.


Botrytis Blight

Having fuzzy mold on the Canna Lilies is a sign that your plant got infected with Botrytis blight – a fungal disease.

You can handle it by using fungicide. But if it is too severe, I’m sorry, but you will have to remove the plant.


Canna Virus

Lately, the canna virus has started catching attention as it spreads.

This virus mainly affects the plants bought as rhizomes. To avoid this, make sure to buy your plants from the right person.


Tips to keep Canna Lily Problem-free

Most of the mentioned problems are pest problems and can be fixed if you invest in a good insecticide.


Keeping Canna Lilies Over the Winter

Since I emphasized so much that Canna Lilies love heat and cannot survive winter, it is natural for you to think that you cannot keep them over the winter.

It is the only logical conclusion, right?

That is correct. But it’s possible to do so in some cases.

For my readers living in zone 7 to 10, I’ve got some good news. These Lilies survive in the winter for you as the winter is not too extreme.

However, for readers living in other zones, I’m afraid they can’t survive on the ground.

But hey, don’t give up so easily. There is a trick you can use to keep them during winters as well – it’s called overwintering.

Okay, maybe not so much of a trick, but you get the point, right? Anyway, let’s talk about how you can keep them over the winters.

If the temperature falls very low, you should bring the Canna Lilies inside your house in a pot.

Place the plant in a container after gently removing the cluster of rhizomes.

Cover the pot and store it somewhere cool and dry. Perhaps your closet?

Where you store them is critical. If you keep them somewhere too cold, they will die.

They’ll sprout if you keep them somewhere the temperature is too high.

This way, you are protecting them from the freezing weather.

Once the freezing weather passes and the soil gets softer, you can bring the plants back to their original places.

Make sure to check on them once every month and remove those starting to rot.

It’s not that complicated, really.

Trust me, just remember the requirements, and you will easily do the work.


Frequently Asked Questions about How to Grow and Care for Canna Lily


How long does a Canna Lily live?

Canna Lilies can live up to three to four years provided you’ve given them the proper care.


Do Canna Lilies spread?

Canna Lilies do spread, but luckily, they don’t spread aggressively. They usually spread out in one place and not too far.


Do Canna Lilies come back every year?

Canna Lilies come back every year in certain areas. In zones 7 to 10, they grow back yearly in summer and spring seasons.


Conclusion On How To Grow and Care for Canna Lily

I hope this guide was as helpful and fun to read as it was for me to write. And let me tell you, I learned a lot about it myself.

Canna Lily is a gorgeous plant. And fortunately for us, growing and caring for it is not too challenging.

And now that you know all about them, are you in agreement with me?

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.

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