Cannas (KAN-ahs) are tall, showy ornamental plants. They boast lush towers of banana-like leaves and bright flowers which resemble gladioli or orchids. Canna hybrids (Canna x generalis) are perennial only in the deep South and in southern California where winters are mild. Northerners enjoy them over and over again by digging and storing the fleshy, tuberous roots over the fall and winter and replanting them in the spring.
Height And Spread
Cannas grow 2 to 8 feet tall. Fully grown, they spread 18 inches across. Dwarf varieties grow only 18 to 30 inches tall.
Canna flowers are similar to gladiolus blooms. They are about 4 inches across and cluster at the ends of tall, canelike stems. Vividly colored, they may be red, yellow, orange, pink, white, variegated, or speckled. Canna flowers bloom in mid to late summer or early fall, depending on the variety.
Canna leaves may be green, purplish or bronzy red. They are somewhat paddle shaped. Typically they are 6 inches wide and from 1 1/2 to 2 feet long. They appear coarse, with blunt edges and prominent veins.
Popular Canna varieties include the `Pfitzer' series, with orchid-like flowers; the `Grand Opera' series, with gladiolus-like flowers in pastel shades; and Giant Cannas, which may reach 4 feet or more into the sky. Annual Cannas, grown from seed, include `Seven Dwarf Mixed', which grow 18 inches tall.
Cannas look best in a bed by themselves, in the center of a formal garden or clustered in groups in the center of a flower bed. Because of their height, bright colors and huge foliage, they tend to overwhelm many other more delicate plants and dominate small yards.
Cannas look good in large pots or tubs on the patio or terrace.