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Monday, August 29, 2011

Yes Canna Lilies Can Be Dead Headed

Tropicana Canna Lily
Canna Lily 'Tropicana' picture obtained

Q. Dead-heading canna lilies seems to work but results in the stalk getting very high and less stable as the flowers become smaller. At times I'll cut the stalk off at it's base if the leaves start to lose color or get wind-tattered but the plant may get really thinned out especially as winter approaches. Is there a best way to dead-head canna to get maximum flowers?

A. It sounds as if you're doing it correctly. As the individual flowers fade or are spent, twist them off of the flower stalk.  Some flowers will be smaller than others.  Dead-heading flowers doesn't necessarily mean the flowers remaining on the stalk will get a lot bigger.  It does conserve energy for the entire plant so the number of flowers or the relative size will increase overall and help conserve energy for growth and flower production in future years.  You were still going to see a difference in flowers size among the flowers on a single stalk.  As the flower numbers in size and no longer serve you, then remove the entire stock at its base.

By the way, canna lilies very well in our desert climate and add a touch of a tropical feeling to any landscape design.


  1. My new sprouts dry up at the tip and turn brown before the flower has a chance to mature? Please help. Whole plant is healthy except I get no flowers!

  2. Lets make sure you have amended the soil thoroughly if this was a desert soil to begin with or you have these in a desert landscape. Mulch the planting.
    Lets next make sure the plants are getting enough sunlight..at least six hours each day of direct sun particularly sun before the late afternoon when it is very intense.
    Watering frequency should be often enough to keep the soil moist but not continuously wet. Bulbs should be divided every three to four years in the fall, around the end of September, and replanted. If bulbs are too small they may not flower that year until the size of the bulb is large enough.
    Lastly, there is a pest, about the only one out there of canna lilies called the Canna Leafroller. It can create holes in the foliage or make it look really bad and torn up. In some cases in can prevent flowering in combination with ragged looking leaves. Bt (Dipel or Thuricide) or Spinosad mixed with water according to label directions and sprayed in the folds of the emerging leaves in the beginning of the growing season and every couple of weeks until blooms emerge should help keep this pest under control. Dont spray this pesticide unless you think you really have this pest.

  3. How do you get rid of Canna Lillies? Yes they are pretty BUT they spread and have become a pest in my garden.

  4. I hope others may help here but my suggestion would be to dig up the bed and remove the rhizomes. Canna lilies are produced on short rhizomes. It is possible they flowered they could produce seed. If the seedlings started it is easy to hoe or pull them before they get established. Treat them just like a weed in this case. I dont know if you could apply a pesticide (herbicide) to the leaves or not. You could do this with rubber gloves and a herbicide wetted sponge. But I dont know of a herbicide that has this on the label.