Cannas Tell You What Type of Gardener You Are

I will admit the canna shown here isn't the canna of my childhood, which always had red flowers. My dad usually planted them in a row in the vegetable garden.

Side note:  I like flowers in a vegetable garden, too, but prefer zinnias, marigolds, and other annual flowers over tropical cannas.

Every fall, after the first frost blackened the canna leaves, he'd dig up the roots, lay them out on newspapers to dry, and then store them in a paper bag in the garage.  In the spring, he'd pot them up, grow them a bit, and then plant them out in the vegetable garden again.

Because you always get way more roots to dig up than you planted, my dad, and every gardener, would have plenty of canna roots to give away to other gardeners.

Fast forward and I will admit that I once planted out red flowering cannas and then dug them up in the fall. I had so many roots that next spring, more than I could ever have room to plant, that I sold a bunch of them at a garage sale. Fifty cents apiece, I think.

Anyway, let us fast forward again to today when I am struck by how pretty my canna is that is growing in a container on my back patio.  It's Canna x generalis 'Cannova® Mango'.  I bought it this spring not really paying much attention to what it was, or what the flower color would be, though I knew it was a canna. I just needed some plants to fill some big pots on my patio and cannas do well for that purpose.

Gosh, remember this past spring when everyone was rushing to greenhouses and garden centers and the owners couldn't keep plants in stock, people were buying them so fast? I'd rush in during the early morning hours when they were watering, load up my wagon as fast as I could, barely looking at what I was buying. I just knew if I didn't buy plants fast, I'd miss out. Crazy times.

Anyway, I do love this canna now that it is blooming. It's gorgeous.  

Now here comes another confession. I've gotten lazy over the past few many years and don't usually try to save cannas from one year to the next. I guess they are too easy to buy at the local greenhouse in the spring, or I'm getting a bit lackadaisical (did I spell that right?) about keeping plants over the winter if it takes any effort at all.

Which brings me around to my point. 

I can pretty much tell what type of gardener you are by what you do with your cannas in the fall.
Do you try to overwinter the roots and re-pot them in the spring  If so, you are a frugal, conscientious gardener who doesn't shy away from a little extra work. A good kind of gardener! 

Or do you leave your canna roots in the ground or toss them on the compost pile? If you do this, you are kind of lazy and a little too footloose and fancy-free about your plants.

(Yes, I've heard cannas are hardy in some climates. If it is hardy for you, then you'll have to decide on your own what type of gardener you are without reading it in the canna leaves.)

Now that I see this canna with those pretty flowers, I think I'm going to try really hard to be the first type of gardener.  Seems like the thing to do.


Dee Nash and I talk a bit about cannas, and other gardening topics, in our latest podcast episode which I titled "Guilt in the Midsummer Garden."  Hmmm, between my last post about mulch guilt (I've spread four bags since I wrote that post and have 15 bags left) and now my confession that I feel bad about composting cannas at the end of the season, I might need a long session with Dr. Hortfreud sometime soon! Anyway if you listen to our podcast on Apple podcasts, can you hit that subscribe button? Doing so seems to help other people find our podcast. You'd like that for us, wouldn't you?  


  1. At my previous residence I had cannas planted in front of my little front porch, which was next to the garage. It provided protection, so the cannas would regrow in the Spring. I would dig them up and replant a few. The remainder would go to my son-in-law or I would give them away to who ever wanted them. He loves cannas. My daughter says that people will refer their home as the canna house. LOL! If there were any left they would go to the compost.

  2. I am lucky if my cannas ever flower. I grow them for the foliage. And I save them from year to year, but don't get that many extras. Some, but not a lot.

  3. The last time I tried to plant cannas was the year someone left a box of tubers in my driveway (I'm pretty sure I know who it was). I dutifully planted them out back and unknown wildlife kept pulling them out of the ground, so I gave up.

  4. These things come and go - I've never grown Cannas, but I'm on year three for my dinnerplate dahlia tubers! My dedication to over wintering is directly correlated to how beautiful the plant is in the fall, and how much money it cost me

  5. The type of gardener I am must change yearly. Some years I dig them up. Some years I don't. I had a canna pop up from an area that they hadn't been in for several year. The weather must have been just right for them. I too like those big ole leaves in the the garden and a tend to use the darker c0lors.

  6. I grow mine in pots. When they go to sleep in October I stash the pot somewhere dry and out of sight for the winter. In March they start waking up and I start watering. Easy peasy. I guess the kind of gardener I am is "the lazy kind".


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