Growing canna lilies from seed

How to Grow a Canna Lily from Seeds

A canna lily is usually propagated by separating the bulb, but it can also be grown from canna seeds. The beautiful trumpet-shaped large blooms that rest on the end of a large stem produce a light fragrance that combined with its visual beauty create an overwhelming sensual experience. The canna lily provides a myriad of different colors, producing blooms in every color except blue, green and black. The large leaves are either green, blue-green, bronze, burgundy, purple or striped. Follow these guidelines to produce the enchanting canna lily from seed.

Obtaining Canna Seeds

If you know someone you grows canna lilies, you can collect seeds from ripened seed pods. Many gardening shops will have canna seeds, as well. Ordering seeds from a gardening shop, brochure or online will allow you to choose from the many color and variety choices.

Test Seeds by Pre-growing

Since canna lilies quickly reproduce from one plant by creating more bulbs, you don’t need many plants to start your collection. Therefore, test out seeds so that you can choose the few that will produce the best plants. Test seeds by placing between 2 damp paper towels that are folded in half and storing in a cool dark place for several days. The ones that have sprouted the most should be kept for planting while the others are discarded.

Planting Seeds

Plant the remaining seeds in a seed tray or in 4-inch pots (2 seeds per pot, planted near opposite sides). Plant seeds just barely under the soil surface in an all-purpose sowing soil. At this stage, canna lilies are susceptible to root and seed rot to water from the bottom up, misting the surface lightly if it dries out.

Repotting and Transplanting Seedlings

Choose 1 or 2 of the best seedlings, and plant in their own 4 inch pot (or larger, they will grow quickly) or in the yard if it is after the frost. At this time, sowing soil should be discarded for a compost-enriched natural soil. When replanting, wash off the roots so that any bacteria isn’t transplanted along with the canna lily. At this stage, canna lilies should be watered regularly, whenever the top couple inches of surface soil dries out. Canna lilies should be planted in a sunny location. If planting more than one, plant about 1 foot apart, or 2 feet apart for the largest varieties which are about 5 to 6 feet tall.

Caring for Canna Lilies

Canna lilies respond well to organic fertilizer. If you prefer using organic fertilizer, fertilize in late winter with a mix of 4 parts blood and bone and one part sulfate of potash. Also, fertilize every other month with rotted cow manure or a liquid fertilizer. Look for signs of over-fertilization when not using organic fertilizers. Too much nitrogen will create burnt leaf edges. If this occurs, cut back on your fertilizer. Don’t forget to water regularly; the canna lily is native to tropical marshlands and won’t endure dry conditions.

Enjoy the fragrant beauty of the colorful canna lily!

Canna Lily Seed Harvesting: Can You Plant Canna Lily Seeds

Canna lilies are commonly propagated by dividing their underground rhizomes, but can you plant canna lily seeds too? This article will answer that question.

Canna Seed Propagation

Propagation of canna lily by seeds is possible, as many varieties produce viable seeds. Since most of the plants with dazzling flowers are hybrids, starting canna lilies from seed may not give you the same variety.

Nevertheless, if you find it interesting to raise plants from seeds just to find out how they turn out, it is definitely worth a try. Moreover, you are not likely to be disappointed, as the wild varieties of canna lilies are all rather pretty, with striking colors and markings.

Canna Lily Seed Harvesting

So when can you harvest canna lily seeds? Once the flowers are spent, a cluster of seed pods develop. The pods are green, spiky, round structures that usually contain one to three seeds. The pods are harmless in spite of their outward appearance.

Canna lily seed harvesting should be done once these seed pods become dry. When pods open up revealing the black seeds inside, you can easily squeeze them out. They are quite big and easy to handle.

How to Germinate Canna Lily Seeds

Can you plant canna lily seeds directly in the garden? Canna seed propagation is not as easy as the seed collection. The seeds do not germinate when planted directly in the soil. The tough seed coat is the main obstacle. Canna seeds have to be prepared beforehand by softening the seed coat to encourage germination.

Canna seed propagation involves soaking, heating and scarification. Sometimes it takes a few attempts to get it right. You should start the process at least one to two months before you plan to plant it outside. Germination usually takes one to two weeks.

Soaking – Canna seeds should be soaked in water for a minimum of 24 hours. Some recommend using lukewarm water for soaking. Use of a commercial medium such as Jiffy Mix, may be ideal for germinating canna lily seeds. Make small depressions in the medium and put in the seeds. Cover with the mix and water.

After planting the seeds in the medium and watering, the container should be covered in plastic wrap and kept warm indoors. A constant temperature of 70 to 75 F. (21-24 C.) is necessary to initiate germination. You can use a heating pad to maintain the temperature.

Scarification – Another method to encourage canna seed germination is by rubbing off a bit of the seed coat before planting. Use a file or sandpaper to scrape off the seed coat. You should keep rubbing until the whiteness of the endosperm becomes visible.

Scarified canna seeds can be planted directly in the medium without soaking, as water can easily get across the seed coat now. But the container should be kept warm throughout.

Canna lily is a monocot, with just one seed leaf emerging first. When the seedlings are over 6 inches in height, they can be transferred into pots. Planting in the garden should be attempted only after all danger of frost is over.

Canna Seeds – Grow Red Canna Lily From Flower Seeds

Flower Specifications

Season: Perennial

USDA Zones: 7 – 11

Height: 24 – 30 inches

Bloom Season: Early summer to frost

Bloom Color: Red

Environment: Full sun

Soil Type: Prefers moist, well-drained soils, pH 6.1 – 7.5

Planting Directions

Temperature: 76 – 80F

Average Germ Time: 10 – 20 days

Light Required: No

Depth: 1/2 inch

Sowing Rate: 1 – 2 seeds per plant

Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination

Plant Spacing: 9 – 18 inches

Canna Red (Canna x Generalis) – Growing Cannas from Canna seeds is extremely rewarding and brings a striking perennial to the landscape that gives a full season of color. This Canna Lily can grow 24 – 30 inches tall and gives a wonderful display with its colorful foliage and blooms of intense red color. Canna seed is one of the largest flower seeds you will find at only 5 seeds per gram. Due to this factor, it is best to soak the flower seeds for 24 – 48 hours before planting to soften the seed coat. For even faster germination, file or nick the Canna Lily seeds before planting. Canna seeds should germinate in 10 – 20 days at 76 – 80F.

Cut old spent flowers and seed pods to encourage repeated flowering late into the autumn season. Canna plants should be spaced 9 – 18 inches apart depending on the size of the varieties used and the effect desired. In dry weather, watering Canna Lily plants once a week will insure a stronger growth. Another common name for Canna is Indian Shot or Canna Lily. Canna grows best in wet locations. Nice for a water’s edge, plantings near ponds and pools work well. Not hardy north of zone 7, but makes an excellent annual flowering plant. This Canna variety will often bloom in just 90 days after planting flower seeds.

Picking, planting, and storing lily seeds

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How to collect seeds from your garden

Whether you’d like to save money or you enjoy following a plant through the entire growing process, saving seeds from plants in your garden is rewarding. And you can even share with friends! Here are a few tips for success:

What to grow

Many vegetables, herbs and flowers produce seeds that can be collected and stored for future seasons. However, you’ll want to know whether you have hybrids. Often listed as F1 hybrid on plant tags and packets, they don’t produce seeds that come true, or grow plants that look like the parents. Species and open-pollinated plants, ones pollinated by wind, insects or self-pollination, will produce seeds that come true. “Gather seeds” below shows 12 plants that are easy to grow and collect seeds from, and will likely come true. Keep in mind, however, that even if they’re open-pollinated, the same species of plants growing close together will likely cross-pollinate, then not come true after all. So to be sure next year’s plants look exactly like this year’s, only grow one variety of a species.

Gather seeds

Here are some plants that are simple to collect seeds from and can be started easily next year.

  • Blackberry lily Iris domestica
  • Cilantro Coriandrum sativum
  • Coneflower Echinacea purpurea
  • Dill Anethum graveolens
  • Four o’clock Mirabilis jalapa
  • Larkspur Consolida ajacis
  • Love-in-a-mist Nigella damascena
  • Marigold Tagetes patula
  • Poppy Papaver spp.
  • Sunflower Helianthus annuus
  • Sweet pea Lathyrus odoratus
  • Zinnia Zinnia elegans

Pick when they’re ripe

Where seeds form on the flower can vary between species. Some plants, such as sweet pea, larkspur and love-in-a-mist, form seed pods. Sometimes the seeds are all that’s left, such as on the dying stems of blackberry lily or cilantro. And on others, such as zinnia and marigold, you’ll need to remove parts to find the hidden seeds that form just below the bloom.

When you’re collecting seeds, choose the healthiest plants. Because seed formation is the last phase in a plant’s life cycle, you may have to wait until late in the growing season to harvest. Be patient and vigilant. Remove them too soon and the seeds will not have fully matured and won’t be viable. But wait too long, and you may miss out on being able to collect them if seedheads crack open and seeds blow away or drop to the ground.

Although seeds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, there are some characteristics to look for so you know they’re mature and ready to be collected. To start, the flowers will shrivel and turn brown. But seeds still may take time to ripen. For example, the marigold flower heads in the photo above are all on the same plant on the same day, but only the one that is entirely brown and spent is ready for harvest.

If the seed pods are papery, like the love-in-a-mist in the photo above, or you hear rattling when you shake the pod, it’s likely that seeds are ready.

In addition, look for mature seeds, often brown-black—leave ones that are still pliable and white to ripen a little longer. Once you know the seeds are ready, you can collect them. If seeds are neatly packaged in a sheath, you may be able to simply snip the spent flowerheads to take indoors.

But sometimes the seeds are loose and scatter easily. The love-in-a-mist in would probably make a mess if you took the pods indoors, so it’s easiest to collect the seeds in the garden. Other times you’ll strip the seeds from the stems, as I’m doing in the photo above.

You may need to protect your seeds from hungry birds, squirrels and other critters. Sunflowers seem to be a favorite, as you can see in the photo above.

To prevent loss, cover the head with a brown paper sack where the seeds will ripen safely. The paper allows air to circulate so they dry and don’t rot. After a week or two, open the bag to see if the seeds are mature; some of them may have fallen inside. When they’re ready, cut the head off the stem and carefully remove the bag so you don’t lose any seeds. Then lay it on a tray and use your fingers to scrape the seeds away from the head.

Once you’ve successfully collected the seeds, read about how to store seeds you’ve collected from your garden to ensure they’re ready to sprout next year.

How to Harvest Blackberry Lily Seeds

Easy-to-grow and a cheerful, brightly flowering perennial, blackberry lily (Iris domestica, formerly Belamcanda chinensis) is also called leopard flower because of the dozens of spots seen on the flower petals. Loved by butterflies and bees, the flowers readily form seed capsules teeming with fertile, black seeds. Harvest these seeds when the seed capsules ripen and turn beige, or when they split open. Cut the stems and allow them to dry, releasing the seeds.

Allow the plant to flower and form the swollen seed capsules on the stems across summer.

Cut off the stems with the seed capsules with a pruners or scissors when the seed capsules ripen or break open to reveal the black seeds. The capsules turn beige and become papery before splitting open. The black seeds will persist on the stems for several weeks, giving ample time for you to cut stems.

Place the stems on a sheet of newspaper on an indoor table, allowing the stems to further dry and the seeds to naturally drop off the capsule onto the newspaper.

Gather up the black seeds from the newspaper after 1 to 3 weeks of drying on the newspaper-covered table. Discard the newspaper and plant debris when all seeds are collected. Put the seeds in a paper cup or envelope.

Expose the blackberry lily seeds to a chilly environment, such as in a refrigerator for 7 to 10 days. Sow the seeds outdoors in the early autumn to germinate. Alternatively, sow the seeds in the garden and allow them to naturally sprout in early spring when conditions are favorable.

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