This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

March 31, 2013

Canna for a tropical effect in Phoenix, Arizona

One of the best ways to add a tropical effect is to grow cannas. These are Canna Tropicannas, which like all cannas, grow from an inexpensive bulb and reproduce like crazy. If you live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, I recommend that you try these, but I have learned a few things - here they are:

• Plant them in shade or part shade. They will try to grow in full sun, but will look terrible, and eventually die. That's morning sun you are seeing in the photo, which is all they get.

• Grow them for the leaves, not the flowers. The flowers are nice, but it's the leaves that give that wonderful tropical effect. I let the flowers bloom a little, and then cut the plant back as hard as I can.

• Cut them back hard. This bunch was cut to the ground last month. Don't be timid about cutting them, and make sure that you have easy access so you can do it often. These are not "front yard plants".  If you see a stalk that's looking straggly, cut it back as far as you can. It's the new, strong growth that looks the best.

• Give them a lot of water and a lot of fertilizer. These are tropical plants - they are always thirsty and hungry. Be generous! They get a good blast of water regularly from the automatic system, where I have added additional sprayers to really soak the ground. I give them sprinklings of slow release Osmocote®, some ordinary plant food spikes (from the Dollar Store), and an occasional Miracle Grow feeding through the hose.

• Plant them in rich soil. This group is planted in a mixture of premium potting soil with coffee grounds mixed in (I got the coffee grounds at Starbucks™). I like to say that they are really not planted in Arizona, they are planting in a hole in Arizona filled with potting soil!

The best and cheapest way to buy these plants is as bulbs. Go to a nursery and ask for Canna Tropicanna. There is no need to plant them as a fully-grown plant. Just put them in the ground - they will grow!
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