How to Store Canna Bulbs

By: Contributors  | 
Orange Canna Lily growing during raining season.
Although they are called canna lilies, canna does not belong to the lily family. Raththaphon Wanjit / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • After the first frost, dig up canna bulbs using a spade, gently lifting them out of the ground, then clean off any clinging soil.
  • Allow the bulbs to dry for about two to three weeks, then layer them between newspaper sheets in a bucket without covering the top.
  • Store the bucket in a cool, dark place, periodically checking for rot, and ensure that the storage temperature doesn’t drop below freezing to preserve them for replanting in the spring.

Although cannas have a stem reminiscent of a ginger lily, and are often called canna lilies, they do not belong to the lily family [source: JLGarden Center]. Canna lilies can grow to as high as 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) tall and have a large spread. Their leaves are broad and flat, and resemble those of a banana tree. Canna lilies have either a bright red-orange or yellow flower that sits majestically on top of the plant, and bloom from late spring to early fall. The canna lily can be easily propagated through its seed or bulb [source: JLGarden Center, Heath]. Here's how to store canna bulbs over the winter so they can be planted come spring.

  1. Dig up the canna bulbs after the first frost in the fall. This is done by inserting a spade into the soil at a 45 degree angle, under the bulb. Slowly lift the spade and pry the bulb out of the ground.
  2. Shake off the soil from the bulb. If the soil is caked on, rinse the bulb off in warm water.
  3. Let the bulb to dry for two to three weeks after digging it up.
  4. Line the bottom of a bucket with newspaper. Place a row of bulbs on the newspaper. Place another layer of newspaper on top of the bulbs. Place another row of bulbs on top of the first row of bulbs. Continue this process until the bucket is full or you run out of bulbs.
  5. Store the uncovered bucket in a cool, dark place. Check your bulb periodically to make sure none are rotting. Cut away any parts of the bulbs that are rotting. As long as the temperature in the storage area doesn't drop below freezing, and no rot sets in, you will be able to replant the canna bulbs [source: Romer].


Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if the canna bulbs start to sprout while in storage?
If canna bulbs begin to sprout during storage, plant them as soon as possible in a pot with soil and keep them in a cool, lighted area until the risk of frost passes.
How can I prevent mold growth on canna bulbs during storage?
Ensure the bulbs are completely dry before storing them and keep them in a well-ventilated, cool, dark place. Periodically check them and remove any bulbs that show signs of mold.