How to Grow a Canna Lily in a Container

Canna lilies are most easily grown from their bulbs. The canna lily creates exotic trumpet-shaped blooms which come in a myriad of different colors, producing blooms in every color. The paddle-shaped leaves compete for attention by being large and colorful, either green, blue-green, bronze, burgundy, purple or striped. Growing a Canna lily in a container will help you to keep this tropical beauty flourishing in temperate regions. 

Benefits of Growing in a Container

The canna lily will sometimes survive a winter, but it is unlikely to survive outside below 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Growing in a container will insure protection for your canna lily during the cold months. Canna lilies are a hungry, thirsty plant. Although it will dry out quicker in a container, fertilizer will go farther in a container. The canna lily is a breath-taking plant that you don't want to ignore. A container grown canna lily can be moved to wherever the action is in the house.

Preparing the Container

Start your bulb in a 6-inch container. Any type of container will work, but a  black plastic container or clay pot will retain heat better; make sure your container has plenty of drainage holes on the bottom. To help with drainage and keep the soil for leaking out of the drainage holes, line the bottom of the container with a layer of newspaper and a couple inches of gravel or pebbles. Fill the container about 2/3 full with a compost-enriched potting soil. Pre-moisten the soil with warm water. Canna lilies require a rich, fertile soil, but they will also thrive in sandy soil as well. 

Planting Canna Lily Bulbs

Spring is the best time to start growing canna lily bulbs. Place the bulb on its side with the growing eye facing up and cover with 3 to 4 inches of soil. Place the container on top of a saucer and water thoroughly. Keep the water in the saucer full so that the container can be watered from the bottom up. Place indoors out of the sun.

Caring for Container-grown Canna Lilies

Once the bulbs have sprouted, place in a south-facing window. Your blooms should begin to blossom within 8 to 16 weeks. Move outdoors in the summer to a sunny location. For best results place where they can receive morning sun and afternoon shade. Water weekly throughout the summer Canna Lilies respond well to organic fertilizers, such as blood and bone or well-rotted cow manure. Or you can use a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer every other week. Move the container back inside in the autumn before the first frost. Reduce watering during the winter months, keeping the soil more on the dry side. Cut off the blooms down to the bottom of the plant stem at the end of the summer, but keep the foliage in place as it will keep your plant healthy.

Move the canna lily outside the following spring after the last frost of winter.