Jim says "Unique Birdhouses abound at Maas Nursery!

Heat- and sun-loving plants, Canna’s brightly colored spikes of flowers and bold banana-like leaves create a dramatic, tropical effect. Varieties range from very dwarf (18-20 in.) to tall (more than 48 in.) plants, with red, yellow, orange, apricot, salmon, white, bicolor, spotted and streaked flowers.

In Zones 7-10, cannas can be left in the ground over the winter, but in the rest of the country they must be dug up in the fall. They do best in moist soil enriched with compost or well-rotted cow manure, full sun and hot weather. In Zones 7-10 plant the rhizomes in the garden in spring; elsewhere, you can start the rhizomes in peat pots indoors about a month before night temperatures stay above 50° to 60°. Space the rhizomes 15 to 18 inches apart and cover them with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Feed every two to four weeks with a dusting of 5-10-5 fertilizer during the growing season. From Zone 6 north, cut the stalks to the ground after they are blackened by frost. Dig the roots and let them dry a few days before storing them, upside down, in dry peat moss, perlite or vermiculite. In Zones 7-10, dig and reset every third year.

'Primrose Yellow'

Insider's secret

To grow cannas in containers, start rhizomes in spring. Plant in a mixture of 1 part peat moss, 1 part packaged potting soil and 1 part sharp sand or perlite, with ground limestone added at a rate of 3 to 5 ounces per bushel. Keep moist and feed with 5-10-5 fertilizer. Move the plants into an above-freezing location over winter.

Use dwarf Cannas as bedding plants or in large containers as accents. Use leaves in flower arrangements, though cut flowers don’t last. Plant rhizomes after soil has warmed. Best in rich soils with plenty of moisture. Some varieties are grown in water or very wet soils.

Propagate by dividing rhizomes in spring.