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

March 26, 2015

Growing cannas in Phoenix, Arizona

Cannas do great in the Phoenix, Arizona area. I've had them here at The Tropical Paradise, which is in a suburb of Phoenix, for many years now. They really do give a tropical feel, but like growing anything non-native in the desert, it takes a few tricks to make them look their best. This is what I have learned:

• Plant them in shade. Morning sun only. My backyard is on the east side of my house, so they do best close enough to the wall so that they get afternoon sun. Even then, in summer you can expect a little bit of sunburn. It does get hot here!

• Give them a lot of water. Cannas are practically water plants, you can't overwater them. The area where they do best was practically boggy when I had grass there, many years ago. I also add in some of those polymer moisture crystals, which you can get at Home Depot.

• Fertilize them. These are tropical plants, so they need to be fed. At least that's how I look at it. In addition to adding slow-release dry fertilizer to the soil (like Osmocote), I stick a bunch of houseplant spikes all around. I also water them with Miracle-Gro, but I'm careful to keep tap water from touching the leaves. Phoenix has hard water, and it leaves spots!

• Trim them hard. They grow like wildfire and it's only the new growth that looks good. Old leaves get ratty fairly quickly. Cut them to the ground!

• Cut the flowers off. I left the one on in the picture so you could see it, but I will cut it off tomorrow. Cannas are grown for their foliage, not their flowers. Flowers sap energy from the plant that could go into leaf production, so trim them off as soon as they fade, which is in a day or two.

Cannas are backyard plants for the Phoenix area. Out front, they get sunburned, and ratty. In the backyard I can easily fuss over them, and give them a quick trim or two with my morning coffee. They take a little bit of care, but to me, they are well worth it!

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