Canna Adds Tropical Look Says LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

Allen D. Owings  |  4/19/2005 10:28:29 PM

News You Can Use For June 2004 

One of the old garden plants undergoing a new wave of popularity is canna. This hardy plant is a perennial all across Louisiana and provides great foliage interest and vertical appeal in the landscape, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.

"This great old garden plant has enjoyed a rebirth in recent years with new variety introductions like Bengal Tiger," Owings says, noting that Bengal Tiger is also known in the nursery trade as Pretoria and should be in the landscape of every LSU fan.

Other varieties include President, Tropical Red, Wyoming, Black Knight, Pink Sunburst, Durban, Cleopatra and Tropicana (also known as Phaison).

Tropical Rose is a shorter growing canna that is a former All-America Selection winner. A canna landscape trial is under way at the LSU AgCenter’s Burden Center in Baton Rouge.

Older cannas varieties primarily had red flowers and rather ordinary green foliage.

"Cannas now are a blast of foliage colors," Owings says, adding, "Variegated forms really add appeal." There are several different species of cannas, and these have all been hybridized together to get our current varieties.

Cannas like fertilizer. Use a high application of a slow-release fertilizer such as StaGreen Nursery Special 12-6-6 or Osmocote 14-14-14 in the early spring after the plants start growing. You can fertilize again lightly in the late summer if you think the plants look like they need some help to get some fall foliage growth.

Full sun is recommended for cannas. Flowering is not as good and foliage color fades in partially shaded locations. Raised beds are not needed, since cannas do well in poorly drained soil and can even tolerate standing water.

Cannas love the heat and do their best growing as the weather gets hot. The canna leaf roller is the major insect pest that attacks this popular plant. Insecticides will aid in control. The larger- growing varieties can overcome damage to the foliage faster than slower-growing varieties.

For related topics, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site:  Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


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Source: Allen D. Owings (225) 578-2222, or

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