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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - February 15, 2013

From: Lancaster, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Bringing Non-native Cannas out of Winter Storage
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants - Is it possible to force canna tubers? Would placing them on a heating pad help? I am in Ohio - zone 5. Thank you

ANSWER:

First of all, a word from our sponsor:   The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. The only cannas native to the United States are Canna glauca (maraca amarilla) and Canna flaccida (bandanna of the Everglades). Canna indica is native to Central and South America and most of the other cannas are grouped under the name Canna x generalis, so extensively hybridized that there is no telling what the parents of a particular plant were or what their general characteristics will be. Both being hybridized and being non-native put them out of our range of expertise.  This previous Mr Smarty Plants answer has this quote and a bit more information on Canna’s.

    Mrs Smarty Plants suggested that perhaps you could be interested in Ohio’s native equivalents! After a bit of searching we found some lovely native lilys described in this web posting on Ohio Native Lilys. We can most highly recommend:  Lilium philadelphicum (Wood lily), Lilium michiganense (Michigan lily), and Lilium canadense (Canada lily) as similar natives that should have all the benefits of being well adapted to your climate and able to flourish without special help!

  OK – Having established that we have little expertise on Canna’s and having shown you some excellent alternatives, perhaps we should actually address your question.  It appears, like for many other bulbs or rhizomes,  that it is a pretty standard practice to dig up the Canna rhizomes and store them for the winter. I’m assuming when you use the word “force” that you mean starting their growth early in your storage so it can be well on its way for planting when frost is not likely anymore.  Here is a web posting from Garden Guides on storing Canna Tubers describing a technique for this.  While checking this out, I found a full-fledged Canna Forum on Garden Web.  There were postings there on both Winterizing Canna, and on bringing the Cannas out of winter storage. It does look like from these discussions that a little bit of water, some light and maybe heat will get them going early!  

 

From the Image Gallery


Wood lily
Lilium philadelphicum

Michigan lily
Lilium michiganense

Canada lily
Lilium canadense

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