Why Won’t My Cannas Bloom – What To Do When Your Canna Will Not Flower

By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Canna lilies are plants with beautiful bright blooms and unique foliage that can add a tropical look to gardens in almost any region. In hardiness zones 9-12, canna lilies will grow as perennials. However, in cooler locations, canna lilies are grown like annuals, their bulbs dug up every autumn and stored indoors through cold winters. Whether grown permanently in the ground or dug up and replanted each season, age and other factors can reduce the vigor of canna blooms. If you are experiencing no flowers on a canna plant, this article is for you.

Why Won’t My Cannas Bloom?

Canna lilies produce beautiful tropical blooms in bright shades of red, orange, yellow and white. Different varieties of canna may also have very colorful or unique foliage. For example, Tropicanna has stripes of green, red, orange, pink, purple and yellow on their foliage. While many varieties of canna can be enjoyed strictly for their colorful foliage, we usually plant these hoping for an abundance of blooms in addition to the nifty tropical-like leaves.

Ideally, canna lilies that are planted each spring as annuals should have adequate time to produce plenty of blooms in a growing season. When grown like this, as annuals, a canna lily not blooming could be a sign that the rhizome was planted too deep. Canna lily rhizomes should be planted no deeper than 2-3 inches (5-7 cm.) deep. Planting canna lily rhizomes too deep can cause the plants to be stunted or have delayed bloom time, or no blooms at all.

What to Do When Your Canna Will Not Flower

Other reasons for a canna lily not blooming are too much shade, drought, overcrowding and nutrient deficiencies. Canna will not flower if it is not getting adequate sunlight. Canna lilies need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.

Canna lilies also require consistently moist soil. The soil must be well draining to prevent rots, but it should still retain moisture. When stressed by drought or inadequate watering, canna lilies will reserve their moisture by sacrificing blooms. This is also the case if canna lilies are not getting enough nutrients.

For best blooms, plant cannas in full sun, water regularly and fertilize plants 2-3 times throughout the growing season with a general 10-10-10 fertilizer.

The most common reason for no flowers on a canna plant is overcrowding. When grown as perennials, canna lilies will grow and spread very quickly. In time, they can choke themselves out. Canna plants that have to compete for water, nutrients, or sunlight will not bloom. To keep canna plants happy, healthy and full of blooms, divide them every 2-3 years.

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Canna Plant Profile (Canna Lily)

Growing cannas in your garden is an easy way to create instant tropical flair. Cannas are tropical and subtropical flowering plants with large, banana-like leaves. Cannas' popularity and active hybridizing have resulted in a dazzling array of cannas to choose from, many with large, showy flowers and variegated leaves that look like stained glass when the sun shines through them.

Striking flowers notwithstanding, cannas are often grown for their foliage alone. The large, paddle-like leaves come in a range of greens and blue-greens and can have variegation and stripes. Somewhat tubular and lily-like, Canna flowers come in shades and combinations of yellow, orange, red, and pink and are borne on tall stalks poking out of the foliage. Rhizomes planted in spring after the last frost will take a few weeks to sprout but will then grow at a rapid pace and may even flower in the first year.

Because most Cannas sold today are the result of many crosses, Cannas are rarely classified and are simply considered hybrids.

Botanical Name Canna × generalis
Common Name Canna lily
Plant Type Annual flower (in most zones)
Mature Size 18 inches to 10 feet tall and 1.5 to 6 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Rich, moist
Soil pH 6.0 to 6.5
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Yellow, orange, red, pink
Hardiness Zones 8 to 11
Native Area Tropics

What did I do to my cannas?

I looked at my cannas and since it is almost time to put them down for the winter, I usually, just give them fertlizer, chop off the heads and then treat with systemic before they go down for the winter and they do well in the Spring. This year though, I decided to use Black Kow and bought 20 bags of it, I put 10 bags of it around the left side and left front of the house, after digging up my canna lilies, then replanted the canna lilies through the Black Kow, the leaves are turning brown now? What did I do?

Could you have over-fertilized and the leaves burned? that is what it sounds like, but I am only guessing. May have to rake it off
But it usually isn't that strong. My DH plants his tomatoes in it in the spring.

ridesredmule: I think I discovered what I did wrong. I usually dig up all my canna beds before fall, sprinkle with fertilizer, put them back down in the bed after I put compost or Black Kow down, then I sprinkle around the bed with Preen. Well, I ran out of Preen, so wound up using this Weed and Feed for lawns instead, plus the regular fertilizer I used. It's been raining a lot so hopefully will wash a lot of that through real quick.

This month, I'll be sprinkling systemic around them all and whacking the tops off, so they can go down til Spring.

Well, Good. At least it was anything horrible. Just bad enough, Huh??
What kind do you have. I have some I want to move but don't know where to move them.
Might put them down in back of mailbox. Got a pretty good size patch and I want to put new
flower bed in there. Need some more?

I got about 200+ right now and some the same variety, some different. I have both the tall ones and the dwarfs. It is time to put them down for the fall and winter, what I like to do is fertilize them really well, so the rhizome has food while they winter out, and also treat them with systemic so come Spring they pop up real pretty without the bugs. The Preen keeps the beds weed free, almost. LOL

i am new at using Preen, but have used it a couple of times with good results. Do you use Bayers tree ad shrub systemic? I have leaf rollers in my Cannas. Does that keep them out? I have heard it does. I use fire ant stuff in my cannas and that helps some. Thinking of using the Bayers to see if it does the job.
That is a lot f cannas.

yes, but I use the bonide systemic, I ran out of the first container and have to get more, you whack the canna down first, then treat by shaking the systemic powder around the canna lily, then water in real good, it won't kill the canna lily but, it will kill any leaphoppers and bad bugs that bit into the canna.

Thank you. I'll give it a try.

I got about half my canna beds done and will be working through the weekend getting the other half done. We are getting some chilly weather and I need to get them comfortable to go down for the winter. Remember, don't use the systemic around veggies though, it is poisonous to us and to the bugs, doesn't bother the canna lilies though, and I've found that if you treat the canna lilies before putting them down for the winter, it usually takes care of any bugs that hatch and you have pretty blooming cannas come Spring.

The weed and feed you used is typically for grass. Canna are not grass. Between the two (weeds or grass) they would more closely resemble a weed. You're probably poisoning them.

Desert Pirate: I think most the damage is undone now, I had them watered quite a bit when I realized what happened. Cannas are pretty tough plants I'm discovering and I think they will all bounce back okay, just had to wash it out of the soil. I will use Preen on the other beds and will not listen to gardening people at Lowes or Home Depot anymore, I told them what kind of bed I wanted to use it in. Dumby me should have read the bag though before and not after applying it too. Preen is expensive but it works for my beds and doesn't harm the canna lilies at all.

I use a commercial product that is essentially the same thing as Preen. We just buy it in 50# bags. I use it in all my beds except the ones I expect reseeding in. Those I just have to spend more time weeding in. And you're right about how tough Cannas are. I've seen them survive deplorable conditions and abuse.

Desert Pirate: I wish I could find a good commercial product that is the same as Preen, that stuff is expenisive, hence, the reason I bought the other stuff, with the encouragement of the guy in the garden center. LOL Apparently, he knows as much about gardening as I do right? Which is very little. LOL

Got to watch out for those people in the stores.
They just wan to sell you something.

joy. I wish I could buy what my employer buys. It's only available commercially. We get it delivered on a pallet. 20 bags 50# each. They give me one for my little campus to last for the year. I have no idea what they pay for it, but I'm sure it's less than Preen by the 20# bag.

Preen has a #20 bag. All I can ever find is the 5 lb container with the pour spout. And it aint' cheap neither.

Black Cow is usually intended to mix into the soil. It's very intense, and if used alone WILL burn plants. :)

Thanks will remember that when adding the Black Kow this next week. We had 51 degree weather, nice, cool breeze, then today blam, heat wave, now my cannas are coming back, down babies down, time to take a nap already. LOL

I'm in zone 9b, so mine are blooming like crazy. With mid 90's all week, I don't think they'll die down anytime soon. 51 sounds amazing!

MerryMay: yep, that is what we have had all week, right up until I decided to plant onions in containers today, now it was hot out today, sweated all day long, then got everything ready and before I could get the 60 onions planted, here comes the rain. I hope it cools down again, my poor canna lilies think it's spring already. LOL

I'll trade with either one of you, we got 8 inches of snow last night lol.. no spring in site for me lol

jen: I'm concerned now, as it's been 30-38 this whole week, one warm day, my cannas' I had cut back and then put the black kow out along with the fertilizer, threated them with systemic and when the warm spell happened a while back they all bloomed again and I was going to cut them back again and we got hit with a cold wave, the FL extension group advised us not to cut them back as the foilage would protect the plant, even though it doesn't look nice, since the foilage is brown, I just hope my cannas make it through the winter here with this cold. What degree are they good to?

I'm not quite sure on the temps they can with stand, however here in sept / oct its gets pretty cold and they are still fine.. I have to wait for a frost night or two to cut them back and store them in the winter.. So I would say as long as the ground didn't freeze then they should be just fine. The plant can freeze just not the rhizome, from what I gathered anyways.. However some people around here have left theres in the ground all winter, some didn't cut them, some did.. I am waiting for spring to see if theres came back or if they were just treating them as an annual.. Pretty expensive annual in my mind however.

My mom lives in Mississippi where it gets into the low to mid 20s regularly in the winter time. Hers survive in the ground every year. The rhizomes will withstand temps like that and return in the Spring. I don't think you have anything to worry about.

Desert Pirate: Mississippi has weather pretty much like where I live here in FL, people hear FL and automatically assume it is warm year round here and it isn't and this year we had winter coming in late and I suspect will be leaving late also. Cannas are so easy to take care of they present so few problems here in the south, the reason I love them so much. I am hoping to acquire some white ones this Spring as I have none of them, my Stuttgart didn't make it and I do want to get an Austrailian one. My daughter thinks I'm nuts already as I have about 200 of them but, when they are all in bloom it really looks like a tropical paradise around here in the Spring.

joy112854 why didn't your Stuttgart make it??
Just wondering about them as i would love to purchase some in the spring, but i'm a little on the fence about the white leaves.. I love them but I'm afraid they will burn up and look like crap. Does planting in the shade really stop this, and if so does it make them grow slower, or even not flower.

Smurf: It got the spider mites really bad, it divided and then it died off. I kept it indoors and I'm no good with potted plants. Outdoor canna lilies do great with me but, in a pot? They either get some dreaded disease or just expire.

Oh that sucks I hate those little things. I think they only like the nice plants lol

Jen: Yeah, well, living in FL and wanting a Stuttgart is like living in FL and wanting Peonies, I can want them bad as I want, they like it better up north. LOL Least til I can find a way to put some shade in this yard. My Spring Cheer daffs had come up already too, amazing.

well thats the bonus of living in florida I wont have anything come up until the end of may :( But you would diffently plant them in shade.. I know the plant form says different but i think full sun would just cook the white??

My cannas are popping up now, despite the cold weather we've had. I've given up on Stuttgarts, they've fried no matter where I put them. I replaced them with the varigated shell ginger, which has a similar leaf. Sometimes you just have to surrender. lol.

Smurf: They do cook in the FL sun no matter where you put them, mine was in the house in front of the window, where I could control the sun it got by pulling the drapes, and it still got too much sun, like MerryMary says, sometimes, you just gotta surrender and I think it's that way here for me with the Stuttgart's, definately with Peonies, and artichokes. I would like to find a white flowering canna lily though, it's the only color I don't have and probably an Austrailia one too. My Spring cheer daffodils are blooming already on the deck but they don't get direct sun too much there, daffs seem to expire with direct sun also.

I'm hoping they do ok for me here, being only in zone 6b.. I havent planted anything that was varigated back there though.

i havent had cannas in a while. but a friend gave me some this past fall. when should i plant them. i was thinking of putting them in large pots so that is easier to take up and store next fall.

You can pot them up at anytime.. you can grow them under a light now to get them ready for spring planting or you can wait and plant them when your ready outside.. The root itself cant freeze, so you just have to keep in protected from the weather untill the frost is gone in your area.. I'm 6b too and usually i plant them outside the second week of may - end of may along with all my seeds. I have heard people just leave them in the pot in a basement over the winter.. Other perfer to take them out of the dirt.. You might have to divide them depending on the size of your pot as they will get a hugs root clump by the fall.. Other then that good luck..

Canna Rust

Canna rust is a fungus that causes orange, yellow, and brown spots on the plant leaves and stems. In severe cases, the leaves will turn brown and yellow all over and the rust can kill the plant. This fungus can be controlled by removing and destroying infected leaves and severely infected plants. To prevent or control canna rust, make sure the plants are in full sun with plenty of air circulation. Crowded plants in humid, shady spots are more likely to develop rust.

After graduating from The Ohio State University, Marissa Baker turned her attention to professional writing. Her experience covers a variety of topics, including gardening, landscaping and lawn care equipment. She has been gardening for as long as she can remember, and writing about garden and lawn care since 2012.

Watch the video: How to Deadhead Cannas

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