The Q&A Archives: Canna's

Question: I live in Pennsylvania, I would really like to dig up my canna before the first frost to prepare for winter storage. I have sooo many, and would like to share them in the spring with my neighbors, who adore them. My daughter & son are getting married in December, and I'm afraid I will be way to busy in late October & November to get the job done. Help !!

Answer: As long as the leaves are green, they're transporting nutrients to the roots of the plants. It's not a good idea to cut away green leaves, but you can probably hurry the ripening process by withholding water from the plants. This should hasten yellowing and dying back of the leaves. Cannas are tuberous rooted perennials that are native to the tropics. There are dwarf varieties that grow about two feet tall, and tall varieties that grow 3-6 feet tall. Yours sound like the taller growing kind. Cannas are quite tender and you should dig and store the roots after the foliage withers and dies back. Shake the excess soil off the roots and store them in dry sand, peatmoss or sawdust. The roots will be dormant and won't require water, but should be protected from complete dessication. Check the stored roots during the winter and add a little moisture to the peatmoss if the roots begin to shrink or shrivel up. You can store them in a garage or cool, dark basement or wherever the temperature is above freezing, but below average household temperatures. Plant them in rich, moist soil in the spring and they'll bloom by early summer in your region.

By the way, congratulations on your daughter's marriage!

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