Although the Canna Lily is a half hardy perennial, it is often 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.
Interestingly, Cannas are more genetically similar to Ginger plants (Zingiber officinale) and Bananas (Musa Spp.) than they are to the lily plant.
Canna lily by B&M Photography
It is a tall tropical plant that may reach 1.5 m (5 feet) in height. Common names for Canna Lily plants include Indian Shot and Achira.
Canna lilies 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, and these carry a wide range of colors in both leaves and flowers.
The flowers tend to be red in nature, with similar colors such as orange and yellow often see. Whereas the leaves, which are predominantly green in nature, are often variegated, maroon, or brown in the cultivars.
Canna indica plant photograph by Ting Chen; CC.
Canna indica flowers, photograph by Iezalel williams; CC.
Canna tropicanna cultivar photograph by cultivar413; CC.
Close up of a Canna cleopatra cultivar flower photograph by Michael Coghlan; CC.
Canna CV cleopatra leaves, image by peganum; CC.
How to plant Canna bulbs
Initially, prepare a loose soil in which to plant Canna lilies - dug to about 45 cm (15 inches) deep. Next mix in about a fifth of the depth volume of compost. Then dig an hole into the prepared soil of about 2.5 to 3 (7 to 8 cm) deep.
Canna rhizome should ideally be placed in the hole eyes up (don't worry if some are on the side). Next, cover the Canna bulb by topping up the soil to the surface, and firm using your foot. Give a good watering.
Advice on Growing Canna lilies in Colder Regions
If you are growing Canna in areas that have cold winters (below -18°C, 0°F / Zone 6) then you should dig up Canna bulbs, and bring indoors in the autumn before the first deep frosts.
In slightly warmer areas (below -15°C, 5°F / Zone 7), then you may get away with providing a mulch using leaf matter or straw, though it may be better to take no chances and bring indoors.
Canna should be able to survive winter and grow as a perennial in warmer zones of 8 and above (-15°C, 10°F).
How to Store Canna Bulbs
For Canna lily winter storage, in cooler areas cut back to six inches in the autumn, then lift tubers and store indoors in a frost free environment, keep within peat moss.
When growing Indian Shot from seed outdoors, it is best to sow at a depth of 6 mm (quarter of an inch) in the late spring, when the last frost has long gone.
If growing from tubers, then Canna lily bulbs 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 (20 inches) apart and located in a sunny part of the garden, that has good drainage.
Indian Shot requires a moist soil of pH 6 to 7.
Canna and Hummingbird by Aunt Owwee
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 (this is a lot easier than growing from seed).