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Regular and dwarf cannas shine in Southern gardens
Canna lilies are valued for their large, tropical foliage and showy, brilliantly colored flowers. They are an easy landscape plant that everyone should have in their gardens.
Many gardeners are familiar with the big cannas that have to be grown in the back of the planting bed. With their upright growth habit, cannas have an almost statuesque presence in the landscape. But the plant breeders have been at it again, developing selections that have dwarf characteristics.
These dwarf cannas are initially grown from seed, not produced from cuttings of spreading underground stems. This trait translates to better branching and more flowers for your landscape. Since they reach just 16 to 24 inches tall, these cannas demand to be planted right up front. In fact, dwarf cannas were first selected for use in containers. That may make them the perfect thriller plant in a combination container.
A great example of dwarf varieties is the Tropical canna series, which typically has flowers that are about 3 to 4 inches across. The beautiful flowers are soft and form on a spike held high above the wide, lush foliage.
Tropical Rose is an All-America Selections winner with soft, rose-colored blooms. As the first flowers mature, another spike begins to grow and soon opens. Tropical Rose produces flower spikes all summer, offering reliable color in your garden. Other colors include red and yellow.
A selection called Bronze Scarlet has bold spikes of brilliant scarlet blooms speckled with gold flecks. It displays stunning, deep burgundy leaves with hints of coppery bronze all summer.
South Pacific Scarlet is a 2013 All-America Selections winner. It has 4-inch flowers that bloom all summer long in a delicious blend of scarlet shades. This plant thrives in hot and humid conditions, making it the perfect choice for Mississippi gardens and landscapes. South Pacific Scarlet is a little bigger than the Tropical cannas, having the potential to reach 4 feet tall.
You can prolong the bloom period of dwarf cannas through the summer by deadheading. Remove the withering flower stem to allow the shoot below to develop and flower.
For the best growth and flowering, plant these dwarf cannas in areas that get full sun at least six hours each day. Keep the soil moisture consistent; the plants will tolerate drier conditions, but flowering will suffer. To support the summer-long flowering, be sure to feed weekly with water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer.