|Hi, new homeowner in Northeastern Pennsylvania (Philadelphia area). Beautiful Cannas in the backyard, but not sure what to do with them as winter approaches. Do I cut them down? Leave them as they are to wilt on their own? Can I leave them in the ground or do i have to remove them for the winter? Thanks very much,
|In zones 7-10 cannas can be safely left in the ground during the winter. Zone 6 is a median climate for cannas. Cannas grown in zone 6 can be left in the ground during less severe winter seasons but always have the possibility of freezing during more severe winters. Cannas grown in zones 5 and colder must be dug and stored during the winter. Your zip code places you in USDA zone 5b so you should dig and store your cannas over the winter months and replant them in the spring (in March or April).
When frost kills the tops of the plants, cut away the dead foliage and lift the clumps using a garden fork. When lifting the rhizomes, take care not to damage them, especially those cultivars that have long narrow rhizomes (like Canna 'Stuttgart'). Shake off the excess soil and store the rhizomes in peat moss to avoid dessication. Do not add any water or you will promote rotting. Store the rhizomes in a cool (below 50?F) place but do not let them freeze. A garage, crawl-space, or basement is ideal. Make sure that the peat does not dry out too much during the winter. If the peat starts pulling away from the pot edge, add a little water. Prior to planting in the spring, wet the peat moss so that the rhizomes are turgid when planted.
Best wishes with your new landscape!