The Ultimate Guide to Growing Canna Lilies

The Ultimate Guide to Growing Canna Lilies

Table of Contents

Enormous flowers that aren’t dissimilar to the gloriousiris, canna lilies are a dramatically fabulous addition to any garden. Just as its relative the daylily brings jaw-dropping splendor into a bed or border and peace lilies from bring regal tranquility into your home, canna lilies are a low-maintenance plant that will transform any pot, bed, or border into a mesmerizing tropical centerpiece.

With exotic, variegated foliage and massive, firework-like blooms in yellow, orange, or red, it’s little wonder these lilies are hailed as one of thebest outdoor tropical plants.

So, with so many reasons to include canna flowers in your garden, here’s the ultimate canna grow guide to enjoy these enormous flowers from June to October.

Don’t forget you can enjoy a more understated lily in a specially-designed floral arrangement by ordering from delivery experts like FromYouFlowersor SendFlowers! Or, if a DIY arrangement is more your style, treat yourself to an EnjoyFlowers subscription so you can arrange a posy of stunning lilies by hand.

How to grow canna lilies

Given these are tropical blooms, canna lily’s hardiness zones are 7-10. However, they can be grown in cooler zones if planted in containers. They are best planted in April and May when there is no risk of frost. It’s also a good idea to start them off in pots. They are planted horizontally with eyes facing skywards in a hole approximately 2-4” deep.

Light requirements

A common question asked when growing this plant is do canna lilies need sun or shade? The answer is a little bit of both. These flowers need full sun or partial shade to grow.

Soil requirements

Well-draining, rich soil that is abundant with organic matter and neutral or slightly acidic is this lily’s dream. Having moist soil is also essential so ensure where you plant your cannas is an area that is moisture-retentive.

How deep to plant canna lily bulbs

How deep you plant your bulbs will depend both on the bulb’s size and your area’s hardiness zone. However, most experts recommend planting your bulbs 2-4” deep (plant deeper for colder zones).

Canna lilies care

Now you’ve planted your bulbs, how do you care for them? Here’s a guide to canna flower care.


These flowers love moist soil and as you are growing them in hotter zones they are at risk of drying out. Therefore, it’s important to water these plants well (without overwatering!). This means watering your plants once a day or ensuring they get a really good watering every other day. Use rainfall and soil moisture as your guide – if there is less than an inch of rainfall per week or your soil is dry, water plants regularly.


Regular deadheading of flowers that have finished blooming is essential to stimulating better flower growth with these lilies. Be sure to remove dead flowers often to stop them from going to seed and encouraging healthy and abundant regrowth.


Cannas are hungry plants and enjoy a regular feed which helps produce the best and most consistent flowers. The best canna lily fertilizers according are either a 5-10-5 or 10-10-10 fertilizer. Apply either of these at the beginning of spring, reapplying approximately once a month to continue getting flowers well into the fall. You want to stop feeding your plant about six weeks before you expect the first frost.

Canna lily winter care

How to look after canna lilies in winter will depend not only on your location but whether your plant is in a pot or in the ground. For warmer regions, you can keep your lilies in the ground or outdoors in their pots over winter, perhaps covering with a layer of mulch or straw if concerned about the cold.

For colder regions, either move your plant indoors or dig up your rhizomes and store in a mild area that is guaranteed to be frost-free.

What to plant with Canna lilies

Cannas are wonderful for mixing with other plants and do best in a mixed border or group planting beds. Their dramatic foliage also works well as a camouflage for other plants as they die away so be smart with your placement!

Try to include alongside spring-blooming allium flowers too so that they can disguise allium’s somewhat unsightly foliage as it dies back after blooming.

Alternatively, to have canna flowers drama and impact matched and augmented, plant them alongside other tall and vibrant bloomers such as dahlias, elephant ears, dahlias, sunflowers, and hydrangeas.

To create a tropical border look, plant cannas alongsidethese low-maintenance but show-stopping tropical plants. 

Can you grow cannas indoors?

While you can grow these enormous flowers indoors with the right care, their sheer size can make this something of a challenge. However, if you’re up to it, canna lily care indoors is only slightly more intensive than outdoor care, requiring you to find the right sunny spot and pot that will not only support your rhizomes growth but provide adequate drainage to prevent rot.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can cannas grow in shade?

This variety of tropical lily can really only grow in light shade so be sure to bear this in mind when planting. For really shaded areas of your garden, here’s a guide to some of thebest annual shade plants.

Can Canna survive winter?

Yes, in warm areas (zones 8-10) and the right care, cannas can survive winter.

Can you leave canna lilies in the ground?

For gardens in USDA zones 8 or higher, cannas can be allowed to overwinter in the ground once there is no risk of the soil freezing. For colder zones, you will need to dig up your bulbs or move your pots indoors if keeping your plants as perennials.

Do canna lilies need full sun?

Yes, these plants typically do best in full sun. However, they can survive in partial shade and even need a bit of afternoon protection in really hot areas.

How long do canna lilies bloom?

You can expect individual canna blooms to last about a week. However, canna lily plants that are properly cared for and routinely deadheaded will rebloom up to three times in a season. This will happen from mid-summer to fall.

How tall do canna lilies get?

Cannas are big plants, which is why they make such a dramatic statement in the garden. For example, canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ plants will grow from four to six feet in height while other varieties will reach over 8 feet – pretty impressive don’t you think?

Keep Reading

Creating a Desert Oasis: Tips for Designing a Cactus and Succulent Dish Garden

Introduction to Desert Landscapes Characteristics of Desert Flora If you’ve ever watched a Western, you’re probably familiar with cactus and succulents and the main properties of desert flora. It’s their...

30 August 2023

Dish Garden Care 101: How to Maintain Your Miniature Landscape for Longevity

Having fallen in love with the art of dish gardens - the ultimate solution for people with limited space for gardens or houseplants - now you might want to know...

21 August 2023

The Art of Dish Gardens: A Comprehensive Introduction to Miniature Landscapes

Understanding the Concept of Dish Gardens What is a Dish Garden? Think of dish gardens like miniature landscapes: they are a kind of container gardening in which miniature landscape plants...

13 August 2023