Growing Cannas in Containers- Growing this Beautiful Exotic Plant

Canna lily make wonderful container specimen plants
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In this article, we will discuss how to grow this wonderful colourful flowering plant of Canna in Containers. These are half-hardy rhizomatous perennials that are not only grown for their flowers but also for their elegant long, green banana leaves. It not only adds flamboyance but also height to container displays, where the blooms can be appreciated from June to October.

Canna lily make wonderful container specimen plants
Canna lily make wonderful container specimen plants

As said earlier they are not fully hardy so you will need to overwinter them in the most sheltered area of the garden or move them into a greenhouse for winter protection. What I would do is add a thick layer of mulch over the crown of the plant and then move it to a greenhouse if you have one. If not, move it to a conservatory or indoors if you have nothing else.


First, the plants like to be grown in full sun or partial shade in as a large container as possible, where they can grow up to 2.5m in height. The plant looks stunning even when not in flowers so it is recommended for those who want something exotic in your container display.

Go for the largest container possible as it will put a lot of growth throughout the season. Whatever you use make sure that the container has plenty of drainage holes to stop the compost from becoming too soggy.

Canna Lily 'Panoramio'
Canna Lily ‘Panoramio’

Fill this container with a good quality multipurpose compost and mix into it a handful of slow-release fertilizer to give enough nutrients to last the growing season.

You have two choices; either buy a rhizome from shops in April and May and start them in containers or in summer, you can buy already growing plants in containers.

If you are planting a container-grown specimen, dig a hole that is twice the size of the original root ball and place the plant at the same level it came in the original container.  Backfill with compost and firm the plant in, ensuring all gaps are filled with enough growing media. Water it in and then keep watering regularly throughout the growing season until the plant is established.

Make sure that the compost is never too dry.


For rhizomes, dig a hole and place the root inside the hole, ensuring that emerging shoots are just above the level of the compost. Backfill it and make sure the rhizome is firmly in. Place it indoors in a warm conservatory until the shoots start to emerge.

Keep watering and by the end of May, the plants should be actually growing and ready to be placed outside. You can bring the container out and then continue to water and look after them and they should flower in their first year of planting.

At the beginning of October, you will need to bring it in under the cover of a greenhouse and mulch the crown. The more protection you offer the better the plant has to survive.


For container plants, this is recommended and explains why you need as a large container as possible to give room for the plant’s roots to grow in. You do not have to dig the plant up and store the rhizomes in a cool, dry place.

The flowers are beautiful so are the leaves
The flowers are beautiful so are the leaves

The plant is sturdy ad it grows and will not require any support. Keep watering especially in dry spells, deadhead any spent flowers as this will keep them in bloom for longer.

You can divide calla lilies in spring by emptying a congested pot and finding the natural division point. Look for a section of Rhizome with two or three growing points emerging from them and then divide it with a knife before potting on into individual containers.


Canna lilies tend to be trouble-free if you get the growing conditions right. The biggest problem is when the plant fills the container and is desperate to be divided. My recommendation is to divide the plant frequently at least every two to three years to help to make the task easier.

Just recently it has been discovered that the plant can suffer from a virus, especially if grown from a shop-bought rhizome. To avoid this, try buying stock from a reputable source.


Canna ‘Mystique’ has majestic purple leaves and small, pink flowers where it grows up to 2m in height.

Canna ‘Lincroft’ has dark rich green leaves and has yellow flowers with pot spots. It is smaller than most Callas and only grows up to 1.2m in height.

Canna ‘Eric Neubert’ has bronze-green leaves from which spikes of orange-red flowers emerge. A small calla as it only grows up to 1m in height.

Canna ‘Ambassador’ has large, green banana-like leaves and more unusual for a canna, it has subdued coloured creamy-orange flowers. The flowers are not as bold as other varieties. Grows up to 1.5m in height.

Canna x generalis
Canna x generalis

Canna ‘Striata’ is unusually for a Canna lily in that the green leaves are striped yellow. This complement the bright orange flowers that are produced in summer. A giant of a plant that grows up to 1.9m in height.

Canna ‘Constant’ has bronze leaves and from on top of these orange flowers emerges. Only grows up to 80cm in height.

Canna ‘Semaphore’ has lowly coloured flowers of a fiery orange that appear amongst its bright bronze leaves, where it can grow up to 80cm in height.

Canna ‘Tripence’ is another variegated canna with green and white leaves. On top of these beautiful orange flowers appear.

Canna ‘Lucifer’ has plain green leaves but the flowers if red with yellow petal margins makes this an attractive plant.


In this article, we have discussed how to grow canna lilies in containers. We have discussed how to plant them, how to care for them, how to look after them overwinter and what varieties to grow.

They are not difficult to grow if you are prepared to divide them frequently, as they can become root bound very quickly.

They are disease and pest free but make a wonderful addition to any container display.

If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make on growing Callas in containers, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Canna growing.


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