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

August 4, 2013

Flowering cannas in the desert

I grow cannas here at The Tropical Paradise for their lush leaves, not for their flowers. But it's kind'a nice to see them. They only last for a day or so, and get pretty ratty-looking very fast. In this photo, you can see one in bloom, and one at the left, that really needs to be trimmed off.

Flowers take energy away from a plant, so if you really want the biggest, healthiest leaves, you should trim the flowers off immediately. I really don't have the heart to do that, I look at them for a day or so before I cut them off. And I trim back hard, all the way down as far as I can reach on the stalk.

To grow cannas, you have to cut them back very hard, and stay at it all of the time. They make very poor "front yard plants", as they tend to look scraggly very quickly. In addition to cutting off the blooms, I look for sunburned leaves (you can see a few in this photo) and trim them off right away. In a front yard, or at a shopping center, you really see them at their most ratty. These plants take daily attention to look their best. Trimming them a couple of times a week just won't make it.

I may have mentioned this before, but cannas love water and food. Here in the desert, they need afternoon shade, too. After I do a bit of trimming (don't worry, I'm not going to cut the new flower off until tomorrow), I will give them a couple of gallons of water mixed with water-soluble plant food using my new lightweight plastic watering can. I have to be careful to keep the water towards the base of the plants, as the water here in the Phoenix area leaves some nasty-looking hard water spots on the leaves.

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