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

May 21, 2015

The trick to growing beautiful cannas in Phoenix

Yes, cannas grow great in Phoenix. Although most of them seem to look their best at the garden center and then just end up looking kind'a ratty in the garden. If yours looks kind'a ratty, don't despair. It just takes a few tricks. Here is what I've learned in the past few years:

• Plant them where they get as much shade, and water, as possible. Mine are planted near the house, where they get afternoon shade, and in an area that used to be so boggy that when I had grass there, it was a mess. Don't worry about over-watering cannas, you won't - they're practically water plants.

• Plant them in rich soil. Dig out the native soil, move it elsewhere, and fill with generous amounts of potting soil. Get the good stuff. Mix in as many bags of coffee grounds as you can get from your local Starbucks (it's free, just ask). My cannas have been in the ground for several years now, and the soil has that one thing that tells you that the soil is rich: worms.

• Fertilize them. Use dry fertilizer, water them with Miracle-Gro. I even use those ordinary houseplant spikes, which I get at the Dollar Store. And actually, if take a look at the photo, you can see where I really didn't do enough fertilizing, on the edges. Note that the middle area looks best. I gotta work on that!

And here is the most important part:

• Cut them back. Cut them back vigorously. Cut them back to the ground, especially the stalks that flower. In addition to snippers I have a small curved handsaw that I use to really get down low to cut the stalks. They're not difficult to cut, but they're too wide for ordinary hand snippers. Cut 'em back!

So there you go. Go ahead and plant those cannas. Plant them somewhere that you can get at them easily, so they won't look ratty. They'll add some great tropical foliage to your garden in the desert!

By the way, mine are from

Brad draws custom cartoon illustrations for publications, blogs, presentations, anything you want. You can contact him at his website

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