From “An Introduction to Cannas” in The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Cannas by Ian Cooke:
“Big, brash, bright and gaudy, cannas could be described as the clowns of the plant world. Most are not discreet; they flaunt their big floppy leaves in the breeze, and their huge flashy flowers stand proud and bold at the top of giant ramrod stems….
“If we could take a time-machine back a hundred years, we would find that cannas were highly fashionable and widely grown in both large and small gardens. Times and fashions changed and they lost their appeal but once again they have regained their popularity and are now talked about and grown by keen gardeners in many countries. Their exotic foliage and multi-coloured flowers have awarded them a new and well-deserved status as easy garden plants with instant appeal.
“The name is derived from the Greek kanna, meaning a reed-like plant. Cannas are sometimes referred to as ‘canna lilies’, although they have no relationship to the lily family: the word is merely used here to suggest a large, exotic-looking flower….
“Cannas are tropical plants, essentially natives of the West Indies and subtropical areas such as South America, where they are found in both mountainous and lowland areas. However, as ornamentals, they have been developed mainly in the temperate climate of Europe. As such, they have, over the years, been selected to be tolerant of a wide range of conditions and, provided a few basic requirements are understood, they are easy and rewarding to grow.”
Last year, I posted a few photographs of Canna blooms from Canna Lily ‘Cannova Bronze Scarlet’ — plants named that way, I imagine, because of the bronze/gold stripes in their leaves and deep scarlet/red flower petals (see Scarlet Red Canna Lilies). They grew and bloomed well into December 2022, but then mostly melted away during our winter deep freeze. I had four of them at the time, two in large pots in my courtyard and two in my pond. One of those in the pond survived — surprise! — and is still growing though did not produce any flowers this year. That Cannas will grow in ponds is perhaps not as well-known; but one of my nearby garden centers was selling some as pond plants, and they seem to do well in plastic pots filled with aquatic planting media, submerged just below the surface of the pond’s water.
I tried to find the same variety again (because I really liked the bronze-striped leaves), but wasn’t successful so bought these orange-flowered ones instead. They’re called Canna Lily ‘Cannova Orange Shades’ and feature dark green leaves with yellow highlights, and various shades of orange and yellow throughout their flower petals. Even the blooming youngsters — as they start to emerge in the shape of some alien’s claw — show the bright mix of orange and yellow that will eventually fill out their flowers.
As a photographic subject, Cannas can be challenging. The blossoms are large, complex, top-heavy structures that tend to flop around in the slightest breeze and will bend the entire plant nearly to the ground after a rainstorm. To represent them at various blooming stages, I’ve included photos of unopened flowers below, along with some that are (mostly) fully opened, and a couple of photos at the end where unopened petals are revealed from a lower angle below a partially opened flower.
Thanks for reading and taking a look!