A canna lily is usually propagated by separating the bulb, but it can also be grown from canna seeds. The beautiful trumpet-shaped large blooms that rest on the end of a large stem produce a light fragrance that combined with its visual beauty create an overwhelming sensual experience. The canna lily provides a myriad of different colors, producing blooms in every color except blue, green and black. The large leaves are either green, blue-green, bronze, burgundy, purple or striped. Follow these guidelines to produce the enchanting canna lily from seed.
Obtaining Canna Seeds
If you know someone who grows canna lilies, you can collect seeds from ripened seed pods. Many gardening shops will have canna seeds, as well. Ordering seeds from a gardening shop, brochure or online will allow you to choose from the many color and variety choices.
Test Seeds by Pre-growing
Since canna lilies quickly reproduce from one plant by creating more bulbs, you don't need many plants to start your collection. Therefore, test out seeds so that you can choose the few that will produce the best plants. Test seeds by placing between 2 damp paper towels that are folded in half and storing in a cool dark place for several days. The ones that have sprouted the most should be kept for planting while the others are discarded.
Plant the remaining seeds in a seed tray or in 4-inch pots (2 seeds per pot, planted near opposite sides). Plant seeds just barely under the soil surface in an all-purpose sowing soil. At this stage, canna lilies are susceptible to root and seed rot to water from the bottom up, misting the surface lightly if it dries out.
Repotting and Transplanting Seedlings
Choose 1 or 2 of the best seedlings, and plant in their own 4 inch pot (or larger, they will grow quickly) or in the yard if it is after the frost. At this time, sowing soil should be discarded for a compost-enriched natural soil. When replanting, wash off the roots so that any bacteria isn't transplanted along with the canna lily. At this stage, canna lilies should be watered regularly, whenever the top couple inches of surface soil dries out. Canna lilies should be planted in a sunny location. If planting more than one, plant about 1 foot apart, or 2 feet apart for the largest varieties which are about 5 to 6 feet tall.
Caring for Canna Lilies
Canna lilies respond well to organic fertilizer. If you prefer using organic fertilizer, fertilize in late winter with a mix of 4 parts blood and bone and one part sulfate of potash. Also, fertilize every other month with rotted cow manure or a liquid fertilizer. Look for signs of over-fertilization when not using organic fertilizers. Too much nitrogen will create burnt leaf edges. If this occurs, cut back on your fertilizer. Don't forget to water regularly; the canna lily is native to tropical marshlands and won't endure dry conditions.
Enjoy the fragrant beauty of the colorful canna lily!