The name canna comes from the Greek word for "reed," referring to the stems. The parentage of garden hybrids is very mixed, but breeders have provided many sturdy and colorful kinds.
Description of canna: Cannas grow from fleshy roots with erect stalks from which broad, long leaves emerge. Flower stalks rising in the center bear large flowers. Foliage may be green, bronze, or purplish in hue.
Growing canna: Cannas need full sun and grow best in a deep, rich, moist but well-drained soil. Incorporate extra organic matter and a slow-release fertilizer in the soil before planting. For earliest bloom, start in pots indoors. Otherwise plant roots directly into the ground after soil is warm and all danger of frost has passed. Use pieces of rootstock with 2 or 3 large eyes and plant 2 inches deep. Space 11/2 to 2 feet apart. Remove spent flower heads for more prolific bloom. In fall after the first light frost, cut back stems to 6 inches, dig roots with soil attached, and store in a cool, frost-free place. While in storage, water sparingly.
Propagating canna: By seed or by division of roots. Seed propagation is slow; cut roots into pieces, each with 2 to 3 eyes, in the spring just prior to planting.
Uses for canna: Use cannas in the center of island beds, at the sides or back of brightly colored borders, or near pools and ponds. They also dominate large containers.
Canna related varieties: There are dozens of cultivars from which to choose, depending on a taste for flowers, foliage , or both. Australia has the darkest purple leaves and red flowers. Brandywine is deep red. Intrigue is tall with upright, smoky purple foliage and orange flowers. Lucifer is a red and yellow bicolor. Panache has sea green leaves and pale apricot flowers. President has scarlet flowers. Bengal Tiger (Pretoria), offers yellow striped leaves and orange flowers, Minerva has yellow stripes and flowers, Tropicana (Phaison), with multicolored orange and pink, striped leaves and orange flowers. Wyoming has burgundy leaves and shocking orange blooms.
Scientific name for canna: Canna species