Canna X Generalis
The Tropicalesque Canna Lily

Add tropical splendor to temperate zone gardens by planting Canna lilies.

Canna X generalis is the result of crossing Canna indica with other Canna species. These tall and dwarf hybrids have also been crossed with each other. Their prodigy are also classified as Canna X generalis.

Stand of yellow canna at Longwood Gardens.

A yellow Canna border growing indoors at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.

Today, there are hundreds of named selections ranging from 3 to more than 8 feet in height. With a multiplicity of leaf colors and patterns. And flower colors ranging from yellows and oranges to pinks and reds.

Pink canna lilies at Longwood Gardens.

Another group of Canna x generalis at Longwood Gardens.

Each Canna flower is a perfect trinity with 3 petals, 3 sepals, and 3 highly modified stamens. The flowers are followed by seed pods containing round, shot-like Canna seeds. This is what earned the original species the common name Indian Shot. You can plant Canna X generalis from this seed but it is much easier to just plant a tuber or bulb.

Tiny testing some canna lilies for scent.

Tiny testing some scentless Canna lilies for fragrance.

To grow them from seed:

  • Nick the hard outer shell of the canna seeds with a nail clipper or a file to expose the white layer underneath it.

  • Soak the nicked seeds in hot water. Leave them in the water for a couple of days.

  • Sow them into fresh potting soil. Do not let them dry out.

  • Seedlings will emerge within two weeks.

  • As they grow, pot them into 6 inch containers. Once they fill these, plant them out into the open ground in a sunny spot. The seedlings should bloom in their first season.
  • Buy Canna, Bronze Beauty 1 Pkt. (5 seeds)

    If planting tubers, place them 3 inches deep into the soil and space them 18-24 inches apart. They are most striking when planted in large numbers, so it won't pay you to skimp when ordering tubers. If you want to be thrifty, buy the seed instead and start them a little earlier.

    Canna x generalis requires a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day to bloom well. The plants are heavy feeders and like a lot of organic compost mixed into their soil. They like a moist to wet soil during the summer and can be used to good effect in boggy areas.

    Buy Canna, Dwarf Mixture 5 Bulbs

    There is a property in my neighborhood that slopes down sharply to the street. The street frontage tends to collect water during the rainy season. The householder has made brilliant use of this area by planting Canna and bananas along this strip.

    Talk about taking a

    lemon and making lemonade!

    Like bananas, Cannas can take all the moisture you can throw at them in the heat of summer, but they don't like to be wet during the winter. If you don't have a bog to plant them in, mulching will help to conserve water.

    Canna X genralis tubers are hardy in the ground to zone 7b. In colder areas, they will have to be lifted and stored over the winter. This is also the best way to preserve the tubers if the winters are wet where you live.

    There is one major pest that plagues the Canna lily.

    Leaf rollers.

    These are caterpillars that roll themselves up in the plant's leaves and eat them. They are the reason I have given up growing Canna. I got tired of fighting these nasty worms.

    They are more of a problem in some areas than in others. In fact, some gardeners have never seen one on their plants. Some people only see a few here and there and can just hand pick them off. I, of course, had tons of them.

    If you need to control them with a spray, Bacillus Thuringiensis is a good organic control.

    If you're not a "green" gardener and feel then chemical warfare is in order, the systemic insecticide Orthene will work as well. Bayer Advanced Garden 2-in-1 Systemic Rose & Flower Care will feed and protect your Canna lilies from leaf miners at the same time.

    Buy Canna x Generalis Tubers

    Cleopatra Dwarf Canna

    Cleopatra Dwarf Canna

    Fit for royalty! With their yellow and red blooms and upright form, these gorgeous cannas resemble glowing torches. Lush foliage has striking, bronze-red markings.

    Louis Cotton Dwarf Canna

    Louis Cotton Dwarf Canna

    The seed capsules of this variety will enliven your dried flower arrangements.

    Dwarf Canna Queen Charlotte

    Blooms all summer long if deadheaded.

    Dwarf Canna Queen Charlotte

    Dwarf Canna Pink + Roses

    Dwarf Canna Pink + Roses

    Feminine pink flowers complimented by dramatic maroon foliage.

    More Tender Perennials:

    Cat Whiskers
    Cat whiskers is a tender perennial that blooms all summer long in 5 inch spikes. The purple or white flowers of Orthosiphon aristatus feature long stamens which resemble a cat's whiskers. They remind me of cleome flowers.

    Growing Hibiscus - Winter Care
    Tropical hibiscus winter care entails providing the plants with "summer" growing conditions indoors. If you do this, they will continue to bloom through the winter. If you cannot provide a false summer indoors, you can cut the plants back and store them in a cold but frost-free area.

    Wintering Canna Bulbs
    Wintering Canna bulbs or tubers is a concern in places where the ground freezes. It doesn't always involve removing the tubers from the soil.

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