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

April 30, 2016

How to grow beautiful cannas in the Phoenix, Arizona area

Yes, you can grow cannas in the Phoenix, Arizona area. I see them all of the time, and they usually look awful. There are a lot of tricks to having them look great, and here are a few thoughts:

• Plant them in shade. The best place that I've found for my cannas is next to the east-facing wall of my house. They get morning sun, but then the house shades them all afternoon. If you plant them out in full sun, they may live, but they will look ratty.

• Trim them back hard. You want new growth for those beautiful leaves. Cannas grow very fast, so you have to keep trimming them back. I trim the stalks to the ground just about all of the time. This is especially true for stalks that have flowered. The flowers only last for a couple of days and then look ratty. Cut the stalk to the ground!

• Water a lot. Cannas are practically water plants. I planted them in an area that always got kind'a boggy when I had grass, and they love it there. You really can't overwater cannas. I have a low-pressure "drip" system that sprays water directly to the roots.

• Fertilize. I like to push those little houseplant spikes in around the cannas. You know, the kind you get at the Dollar Store for 99 cents! I buy a lot of them and then stick 'em in the ground, especially in spring.

• Have access. My cannas are right next to my patio so I can "fuss" with them. If I see a ratty leaf, I trim it off, if I see a spent flower stalk, I cut it to the ground. I can get to my cannas easily, even carrying my mug of coffee. They're not way out in the front yard, or in a place where I can't get to them. I put a path behind them, too.

Cannas can be wonderful here. Unfortunately, they usually look ratty. The winter doesn't kill them, but it gets close. The summer burns the leaves, so they look their best in spring and fall. It's the end of April now, and they're looking good.
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