How to winter cannas?

Canna Bulb Storage – Tips For Storing Canna Bulbs

Wintering canna bulbs is an excellent way to make sure that these tropical looking plants survive in your garden year after year. Storing canna bulbs is simple and easy and anyone can do it. Keep reading to learn how to store canna bulbs from your garden.

Preparing Cannas For Canna Bulb Storage

Before you can start storing canna bulbs, you must first lift the bulbs from the ground. Wait to dig the cannas up until after a frost has killed back the foliage. Once the foliage is dead, carefully dig around the canna bulbs. Remember that canna bulbs can multiply rapidly over the summer, so you will want to start digging a bit further out from where you originally planted the canna. Remove the canna bulbs from the ground and divide them if necessary.

The next step in preparing canna bulbs for storage is to cut the foliage back to 2-3 inches. Then gently wash the dirt off the bulbs but do not scrub the canna bulbs clean. Scrubbing can cause small scratches on the skin of the bulbs that can allow disease and rot to get into the bulbs.

Once the canna bulbs are washed, you can prepare them for canna bulb storage by curing them. In order to cure the bulbs, place them in a dry place, like a garage or a closet, for a few days. Curing allows the skin of the bulbs to toughen up and helps to keep rot at bay.

How to Store Canna Bulbs

After the canna bulbs are cured, you can store them. Wrap them in either newspaper or in paper bags. The best way to store canna bulbs is in a cool dry place, such as a garage, the basement or a closet. You can even store canna bulbs in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer, if you have enough room.

While wintering canna bulbs, check them every month or so and remove any bulbs that may start to rot. If you find that more than a few are rotting, you may want to find a drier place for canna bulb storage.

Canna lilies are one of the biggest attention getters in my gardens, and one of my favorite types of summer flower bulbs to grow. I’ve had canna flower bulbs in my garden for several years now, and I love them so much (The hummingbirds love the flowers too)! There are tons of different varieties of canna lilies, and I have a few different ones in my collection.

I love the tropical feeling that canna lilies add to my gardens, and they add a wonderful contrast of color and texture to my tropical garden. They have become a very popular flower bulb, and these days nurseries usually carry several different varieties.

Cannas are inexpensive enough to grow as an annual flower in cold climates, or the bulbs can be dug up and easily overwintered inside the house and regrown year after year.

Orange and yellow canna lily flowers

Canna Lilies Are Easy To Grow

Canna lilies are versatile and will grow just about anywhere, as long as they have enough water and full sun. Both the flowers and foliage come in a variety of colors and different combinations, which makes it super fun to mix and match the different varieties.

Gorgeous red canna foliage

The foliage alone on some cannas is enough to catch anyone’s attention, it’s like a piece of artwork. The contrast of the flowers against the foliage on some varieties is striking. Canna lilies are showy and bloom constantly throughout the growing season until frost.

Beautiful variegated canna foliage

Canna Lily Growing Tips

Canna lilies are easy to grow, and some varieties can even be grown in patio containers or in a pond or bog. But, like any plant, they do have ideal conditions that they prefer in order to grow their best.

Soil & Fertilizer

When it comes to soil, cannas aren’t super fussy, but they do prefer a rich, fertile soil. Cannas also prefer moist soil, but can survive pretty well during a short drought period.

You don’t need to fertilize cannas, but they will definitely benefit from being fed with an organic fertilizer now and then. Fish emulsion, compost tea or an organic granular fertilizer are all great options for feeding cannas.

Yellow canna lily flower


Canna lilies grow their best in full sun (6 hours or more), but will tolerate partial shade (they just might not flower). Cannas love the heat, and thrive in hot humid environments.

If you live in a super hot climate, then plant your canna flower bulbs in an area that gets shade during the afternoon when the sun is at it’s strongest. Hot dry sun can fade the flowers – and in extreme cases, can burn the leaves.

Hummingbirds especially love the red canna lily flowers!


Cannas love moist soil, and they’re perfect for planting in wet spots in the garden. Like I mentioned above, some canna lilies can even be grown in a shallow pond or bog. They will tolerate dry soil conditions as long as they are watered regularly.

Even though they prefer consistent watering, cannas aren’t super fussy. I don’t give my canna lilies any special treatment, and they have thrived through periods of drought just fine in my garden.

Orange canna lily flowers

How To Plant Canna Flower Bulbs

Canna lily flower bulbs can be planted into the garden once the soil has warmed up in the spring. You could get an early start if you live in a cold climate with a short growing season like mine by planting them in pots in late winter or early spring.

Canna lily flower bulb

Canna flower bulbs are very easy to plant. You could literally just dig a hole, dump the bulbs in, cover them with dirt, and most of them would grow just fine. But, you’re probably going to want to be a bit more intentional about it than that.

It’s best to plant canna flower bulbs 2-3 times deeper than the size of the bulb, and space them out so that they aren’t touching each other. Don’t plant the bulbs too deep or they may not grow. Lay the bulbs on their sides with the pointy tips up (if there are any pointy tips). But don’t worry, even if you don’t place them perfectly, they will figure out a way to grow.

Multi colored canna lily flowers

Storing Canna Flower Bulbs For The Winter

Since canna lilies are only hardy in tropical climates, they won’t survive the winter in the garden for most of us. Don’t worry though, because it’s super easy to save your canna flower bulbs over the winter, and plant them again year after year!

The bulbs will multiply during the summer too, so you can share with friends as your collection expands. Canna flower bulbs are super easy to overwinter. I pack mine into boxes and store them on the shelf in my basement. They can even be overwintered right in the pot if you have them growing in a container.

Frost damaged canna lily leaves

To overwinter them, I dig up my canna flower bulbs after the foliage has died back from our first hard freeze. Allowing frost to kill the foliage helps signal the plant that it’s time to go dormant. Simply dig the bulbs out of the garden and shake off the large clumps of dirt.

Cut the foliage and stems off of the bulbs and allow them to cure (dry out) for a few days. Then you can pack them into a box and store them on a shelf in the basement or garage (never allow them to freeze though) until spring. Easy peasy. For detailed instructions on how to overwinter summer flower bulbs, read this post… How To Store Bulbs For The Winter

Storing canna flower bulbs for winter

Collecting and Saving Canna Lily Seeds

You can trim the flowers off of your canna lily plant throughout the summer to encourage more blooms, but if you leave some of the flowers on the plant you might end up getting seeds. Cannas can be grown by seed, and many varieties will set seed after the flowers have faded. Then you can collect and save the seeds for next year.

Canna lily seed pods

Canna lily seeds are easy to collect, and they will form at the spot where the flower drops off the plant. The round seed pods will turn brown and split open when the seeds are ready to be collected. Canna lily seeds are easy to spot because they’re fairly large, about the size of peas.

Start the seeds indoors in the winter at the same time you start all of your other garden seeds. Canna lily seeds have a hard outer shell, so it’s best to nick them, and then soak the seeds before sowing. Canna lily seeds don’t store well, so it’s best to sow them within 6 months or so after you collect them.

Collecting canna lily seeds

Pest Control

Canna lilies don’t have many issues with pests, but there are a few to watch out for. Japanese beetles are the biggest pest in my garden, and they love canna lilies. Slugs and snails can also be a problem for canna lilies. Pest control methods for these garden pests include hand picking the pests from the plant, and using diatomaceous earth to kill the pests. Soapy water and horticultural sprays like neem oil also work well as organic pest control methods.

Japanese beetles on canna foliage

More posts about growing flower bulbs and plants

  • Overwintering Dahlias: How To Store Dahlia Tubers
  • Overwintering Tender Flower Bulbs
  • Flower Garden Bulb and Perennial Designs For Amazing Spring Gardens

Do you grow canna flower bulbs in your garden? Share your growing tips in the comments section below.

How to Store Cannas Over the Winter

canna lilly 44. image by mdb from

Canna lilies are tender bulbs that can’t survive brutal winters. As the weather begins to turn cold, the lush foliage yellows and signals that it’s time to dig the plants up for the winter. This typically occurs several days after a mild frost but prior to the first hard freeze of the year. Get your cannas out of the ground and into safe storage before they can be damaged by freezing ground.

Cut the foliage back to about 3 or 4 inches tall. Use a gardening spade to loosen the soil all the way around and several inches away from the plant’s stems. Scoot the blade well under the clump to lift it from the ground. Turn the clump upside down to allow it to air dry for 2 or 3 hours.

Shake the soil from the bulbs and rinse them well with water. Use a clean, sharp knife to cut bulbs apart to divide clumps, if you wish. Each division should have 2 or 3 eyes for successful growth. Discard any bulbs damaged while you were digging because these probably won’t grow.

Place the canna bulbs in a dry spot indoors out of direct light for two days to dry completely.

Move the bulbs to a warm, dry location out of drafts and direct light to cure for about three weeks. Pick a spot where they’ll be out of your way where it’s very warm, up to 85 degrees F.

Inspect the canna bulbs carefully. Discard any that are damaged, shriveled or diseased. Cut the remaining stems and foliage off of them.

Treat the bulbs with powdered fungicide. Follow the packaging instructions carefully.

Cover the bottom half of the inside of a cardboard box with storage medium such as peat moss, Vermiculite or sawdust. Arrange canna bulbs on the surface of the medium in a single layer so that they aren’t touching each other. Don’t pile any more bulbs on top of them. Write the date and the canna variety on the outside of the box.

Store the box of canna bulbs in a cool, very dry location out of direct light. Optimum temperature for this is about 50 degrees F. Don’t allow the bulbs to freeze. Check on your stored cannas once or twice monthly throughout the winter. Discard any that are shriveled, shrunken or rotten. Remove any moldy packing medium as it occurs.

A bold display of Canna Lilies.

Cannas are an exciting and colourful landscape plant with dwarf, medium and tall growing varieties available for sale. They are a clump forming bush that are excellent used mass-planted for a showy flower display, or used as individual specimens interplanted with other trees and shrubs in your garden.

Greg, nurseryman local to our farm, and his family have been growing bulbs and perennials in Monbulk for over 25 years, and have collected and grown the most beautiful collection of Cannas including varieties with brilliant pink and blazing red flowers. Greg and his team grow and harvest Cannas from the fields each winter. A machine is used to slash the leafy growth off the Cannas leaving only 10-12″ of growth behind, the plants are then undercut with a machine which makes it easy to lift them from the field. Greg and his team, using a fork, hand dig each Canna plant from the ground.

The Cannas are then divided into divisions and have their tops and roots trimmed, they are then washed producing a nice healthy division to be planted or potted into the garden. The washing process consists of placing the cannas onto a conveyor belt machine, brushes and water run over the Cannas producing clean divisions. The excess water is run through a silt trap to ensure that the recycled water is clean. The Canna divisions are then bundled and packed ready for dispatch.

Planting & Care

Tall growing Canna Lilies.

Plant your Canna divisions in your garden or large pots burying the roots and most of the stalk into the soil, the top of the stalk should just poke out of the ground.

Cannas require a sunny position in the garden, they can become stunted if planted in shade. Cannas like regular watering and feeding with a general purpose fertiliser such as Devotion™ Time Release Fertiliser and a few handfuls of chook poo every couple of months.

Use In The Landscape

Cannas are quite fast growing and can reach their full height in just one growing season. Cannas are an upright clump forming plant that will add spectacular colour to your garden. They are ideal used in tropical style gardens, mass planted for dramatic flower colour and are great used interplanted with other trees and shrubs. Cannas are a very hardy plant and can withstand wetter areas and periods of dryness.

Popular Canna Varieties


Tropical Salmon

A nice compact very short bush with salmon pink flowers.

Tropical Rose

A nice compact very short bush with rose pink flowers.

Doctor Eisler

A nice compact bush with deep red flowers.


Heinrich Seidel

A medium sized growing bush with tall yellow flowers with apricot shadings.

Alfred Cole

A medium sized growing bush with tall red flower spikes.

Garton Baudie

A medium sized growing bush with deep yellow suffused red flowers.


King Humbert

A tall growing bush with bronze foliage and orange/red flowers.

Lemon Gem

A tall growing bush with deep yellow flowers on tall spikes.


A tall growing bush with giant golden, penciled vermilion, flowers with bronze foliage.

The Gem

A tall growing bush with deep cream flowers spotted carmine.


A tall growing bush with dark rose flowers spotted carmine.

Winter Colossal

A tall growing bush with orange/red flowers.

Benton County Extension Office

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
October 19, 2016
Source: Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton, & Morrison Counties

Time to Store Your Tender Bulbs
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (10/19/16) —It is now the time of the fall to dig up your tender bulbs such as dahlias, gladiolus, caladiums, canna and calla lilies and store them indoors for winter. If not dug up and stored in the proper manner, these plants’ tender bulbs will not survive the cold Minnesota winter temperatures. A tender bulb refers to plants that have a fleshy storage structure such as a bulb, corm, tuber, or root.

The general rule of thumb is to dig your tender bulbs out of your gardens after the foliage begins to dry or is killed by frost. Once the timing is right:

  • Carefully dig up the tender bulbs. Use a fork or spade to gently loosen the roots several inches away from the plant’s base. Typically it works best to loosen the soil on all sides of the plant before attempting to lift up the clump. It is important to avoid cutting, breaking, or “skinning” the fleshy material. If damage is done, it makes the structure more susceptible to disease or rot.
  • Clean the tender bulb. Most plants need a gentle wash, however gladiolus corms store best if left unwashed; simply let dry out and dust off any soil before putting in storage. Old gladiolus corms and cormlets should be removed at this time.
  • Curing the tender bulbs. Curing time varies depending on species.
  • Dahlias, cannas, callas, and caladiums have a short curing period of only one to three days. Dahlias curing should actually occur in an area with high humidity to ensure desiccation doesn’t occur. All tender bulbs should be stored out of direct sunlight and in well-ventilated areas.
  • Gladiolus, oxalis, and freesia have longer curing periods. Approximately three weeks is needed for gladiolus, oxalis, and tigridia. Gladiolus should cure in temperatures of approximately 60° to 70°F.
  • Inspect for Pests. Before storing away, thoroughly inspect the materials for any signs of insects or disease. Lightly dust with an insecticide-fungicide according to the product’s label.
  • Label and store tender bulbs.
  • Small sized material such as gladiolus corms can be placed in small paper bags and individually labeled of its content.
  • Larger material such as dahlias or cannas can either be written on directly with a permanent marker or tagged with a wood-and-wire label.
  • The tender bulbs can then be packed into sphagnum peat or vermiculite. Storage temperatures also vary.
  • Freesia, gladioulus, oxalis, and tigridia should be stored at 35° to 40° F
  • Cannas, dahlias, and glory lily should be stored at 40° to 50° F
  • Tuberous begonia, caladium, and calla lily should be stored at 50° to 55° F
  • Periodically inspect. Check the tender bulbs throughout the winter to ensure there are no signs of rot. Remove any material that shows signs before the entire stock are lost.

Storing tender bulbs can be a bit of a chore, but a cost saving effort that will add an array of gorgeous flowers to your gardens. For more information and specific details visit

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