I’ve had to make a difficult decision this year about my collection of canna. What started with a few corms has, over the years, become an overwhelming amount of plants — even after giving corms away. And the increase in plants also means an increase in labor, and I’m reaching a point (for several reasons) where I have to cut back. So, I’ve decided to not save canna and to instead start fresh next year. In the meantime, though, I thought it was still important to repost the steps that I’ve followed to keep the canna coming.
Now that the elephant ears are out of the ground, it’s time to turn my attention to the canna forest that is my yard. The truth is, I never intended to have a canna forest — things just got out of hand over the years as corms grew and were easy to divide, or I found new leaf patterns or bloom colors and I thought I needed to have three of each.
I live in Zone 6 and I have tried to overwinter some canna in the ground, but I’ve had no success. I’ve mulched them and planted them along the south-facing side of the house, but to no avail. So it’s time for the good ol’ dig and store. Whether you have a few stalks or a forest, this is what you will need if you live in a northern climate and would like to save your canna for future summers: garden clippers, shovel or pitchfork, stamina.
Step 1: For the sake of this demonstration, I dug the canna first. You could also trim the stalk and then dig out the corm. Either way, pry up the plant, being careful to not damage the corm with your garden tool.
Step 2: Leave about 8″ – 10″ of stalk. Actually, canna can grow quite large, so for ease of trimming, it might make more sense to leave the corms in the ground, cut the stalks, and then dig out the plant.
Step 3: As sad as it is to do this job, there is a thrill each time I remove a corm from the ground. See that white bulbous shape and the group of purple-tinged tips peaking through the roots? That’s where next year’s growth will occur. Ah — the promise of next year’s garden! By the way, this is also a good time to remove any excess dirt. Don’t divide the corms; that’s a task that’s safer to do in the spring when you unpack them from their hibernation location.
Step 4: After the corms are out of the ground, I keep them in the potting shed for about a week. The setting is warm enough for them to dry a bit before packing away, but not so hot that they cook. Since I have several varieties, I group them in large plastic containers. I also store them upside down — mostly because my gardening bible, Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Gardening, recommends doing that. I’m not sure of the reason, but I do as I’m told — and my good book of gardening has never failed me.
Next Post: Saving Elephant Ears and Saving Canna — Part 2.