How to Grow Canna Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Indian Shot and Canna Lily

Although Canna is a half hardy perennial, it is grown as an half hardy annual in the garden.

Despite their name, Canna plants are not a member of the lily family (Liliaceae) but are members of the ten species stong Cannaceae family. Interesstingly, they are more genetically similar to Ginger plants (Zingiber officinale) and Bananas (Musa Spp.) than they are to the lily plant.

It is a tall tropical plant that may reach 1.5 m (5 feet) in height. Common names for Canna include Indian Shot and Achira.

They bloom in the summer and early autumn with yellow, red, or pink flowers on spikes.

These plants are beloved by many gardeners for their attractive leaves and asymmetric flowers.

There are many cultivars available that carry a wide range of colours in both leaves and flowers.

The flowers tend to be red in nature, with similar colours such as orange and yellow often see. Whereas the leaves, which are predominantly green in nature, are often varigated, marroon, or brown in the cultivars.

Canna lily
Canna lily by B&M Photography

How to Grow Indian Shot (Canna)

When growing Indian Shot from seed outdoors, it is best to sow at a depth of 6 mm in the late spring, when the last frost has long gone.

If growing from tubers then these should be buried at a depth of about 9 cm (3 1/2 inches).

If planning to grow Canna seedlings indoors then the seed first needs to be chipped with a knife, and then soaked in warm water for two days.

The seeds (which may take from a month right up to a year to germinate) should be kept at a temperature of about 22°C.

If you are successful in growing Canna seedlings, then they should be planted at a spacing of about 50 cm apart in a sunny part of the garden, that has good drainage.

Canna and Hummingbird by Aunt Owwee

Indian Shot requires a moist soil of pH 6 to 7.

Caring for Canna in the Garden

Canna / Indian Shot should be well watered in prolonged dry spells and fertilized monthly.

Tubers can be divided in the spring to create more plants.

How to Grow Canna

Canna Growing Guide and Facts

Common Names: Indian Shot, Canna Lily.
Family: Cannaceae.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial usually grown as a hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 24 to 60 inches (60 to 150 cm).
Native: Tropic and subtropical regions of the Americas.

Growing Region: Annual: zones 3 to 7. Perennial: zones 8 to 10.
Flowers: Summer and early autumn.
Flower Details: Red, orange, yellow. Three small petals and sepals hidden beneath large stamens.
Foliage: Green, brown, maroon. Broad and flat. Herbaceous.

Sow Outdoors: Seed 1/4 inch (6mm). Tuber 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm). About three or four weeks after the last frost. Spacing 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm).
Sow Indoors: Chip seeds. Soak in warm water for two days. Germination time: three weeks to one year. Temperature 70 to 75°F (21 to 24°C). Transplant outdoors well after the last frost; soil temperature should not drop below 50°F (10°C).

Requirements: Full sunlight. Soil pH 6 to 8. Fertile moist soils. Monthly feed. Winter mulch. In cooler areas cut back to six inches in the autumn, then lift tubers and store indoors in a frost free environment, within peat moss. Propagate by dividing in spring ensuring that each tuber has at least two buds.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on Canna. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Ginger Lily and Fritillaria plants.

Get the Gardener's HQ Newsletter

* indicates required