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  • Writer's pictureJohn Chapin

How to Overwinter Your Cannas


Cannas are popular summer bloomers for the garden, adding an exotic accent whether planted in the ground or in containers. They love our hot, humid summers and are generally not bothered by pests or diseases. They also multiply quickly, and most gardeners end up with a surplus of rhizomes.

Note: If cannas are planted close to a masonry wall on the south or west side of the house, they often will survive even a harsh winter. This is because of “micro-climate” conditions where the heat from sunlight is absorbed by the brick or stone wall, then radiated into the soil, keeping it significantly warmer compared to just a few feet farther from the wall.

Gardeners have different ways to store their cannas for the winter, and if you’ve had success, by all means continue with your method. For those who haven’t had any luck, the advice from Dustin and Nikki Snow, fourth generation canna growers of Horn Canna Farm in Oklahoma is almost sure to help you succeed. They advise to:

1. Dig clumps of cannas after the first significant frost. It is not necessary for cannas to

be frosted prior to digging, but it is recommended. It serves as nature's last signal for the bulbs (rhizomes) to go dormant.

2. After digging the clumps of rhizomes, remove soil by shaking or rinsing with water.

3. Divide clumps into 3-5 eye rhizomes and trim off any extra stalk.

4. Place clumps in a plastic (not paper) bag.

5. Add peat moss to maintain a good moisture balance.  You don't want to store cannas too moist or too dry.

6. Add air holes around the sides of the plastic bag, allowing a small amount of airflow

while in storage.

7. Store in a cool, dark place between 45º-55º.  Places like cellars,

unheated basements, cool garage corners and crawl spaces make great storage areas

for cannas.

Note: Next spring, it’s safe to plant your cannas outdoors when the soil temperature

reaches 60º.

Happy gardening!

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