The Q&A Archives: Digging up canna lillies

Question: I have a large area in my back yard that is filled with canna lillies. They are beautiful but they are in a bad spot and I need to move them ... immediately. What should I do to have the best chance for saving them. Should I cut the leaves off or should I dig them up intact?

Answer: Summer is not the optimal time to dig and divide Cannas, but with a little advance planning and preparation, you can make the transistion easier on the plants. Cannas require well-draining soil, so get the new bed ready by mixing in some organic matter like compost or leaf mold and digging it in to a depth of about 8 inches. Plan to transplant in the late afternoon or early evening to give the plants some time to adjust before the heat of the day. Working as quickly as possible, dig the plants, divide large clumps with your shovel, and replant in the new bed, keeping the tuberous roots exposed to as little sunlight and air as possible. Set the plants 5 inches deep and about 10 inches apart. Water them well after planting. Expect the leaves to wilt for a few days until the plants adjust. The Cannas may not bloom this year, but should make it through the transplanting process and bloom for you next season.

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