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



May 23, 2014

How to have beautiful cannas

It's May 23rd here at The Tropical Paradise and I have to admit that the cannas look great. Like everything else here, they started as an experiment, and unlike most things, they have been successful. I have a very good *selective memory*!

Anyway, I've had them for several seasons now, and have learned a few things about keeping them at their best. Unfortunately, cannas are a lot of trouble to maintain, and can look ratty very quickly. This is what I have learned:

• Cut them back hard. Be brave. After a stalk flowers, I get in there and cut it to the ground, or as low as I can reach. I have a small curved saw that I use for the larger stalks. These plants are grown for their beautiful tropical foliage, not the flowers, so I let the flowers bloom and then cut them back right away. I have access behind the plants - a space of a couple of feet between them and the wall, so I can get back there. Having this type of access is a gardening trick that I learned the hard way - by over-planting and having no room to trim. I red-designed the space last year. Live and learn!

• Give them shade, plenty of water, and plenty of fertilizer. This is an early morning shot, in a few hours this space will be shaded by the house. I've tried planted them in full sun, but this is the Sonoran Desert, and they do poorly there. There are also several watering sprayers behind these plants, and they come on for twenty minutes every day during the summer. I reduce the frequency in fall, and turn off the watering system in the winter. And I give them plenty of plant food. I get the vegetable fertilizer spikes at the Dollar Store, and use a lot of them.

And there you go. Once established, these plants grow like wildfire. I only have them in my back yard, where I can keep an eye on them. Keeping them looking their best is a lot of work, but isn't that what gardening is all about?

By the way, these are Canna Tropicanna. I got them from +Easy to Grow Bulbs, Inc. but I have seen them at Home Depot and all of the local nurseries here in the Phoenix area.
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