In the heat of mid-summer, we're all looking to add a little extra punch to our gardens, and there is one family that has so much to offer, but doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Canna lilies have been around for around for a long time but with interesting new colours and blossoms, they're experiencing a huge resurgence.
Canna leaves that resemble those of bananas and flowers and look like ginger lillies add a refreshing tropical touch to any container or garden bed. The problem is, we don't use enough of them.
I love cannas for their incredibly easy care, but they really shouldn't be set out in the garden until it gets warm. Cannas not on y love the heat of summer, but also like Dahlias, will carry your garden into November. From a single tuberous root they will develop into huge clumps making a magnificent display. They also come in low (18 inches or 45 cm) medium (3 feet or 90cm) and tall (6 ft. or 180cm)sizes.
Cannas can be used as foreground planting or as a giant background specimens.
Cannas add drama. Not only do they have dramatic foliage, but their various leaf colours and variegations also create an opportunity for some fabulous colour combinations.
The yellow and green striped leaves of C. “Bengal tiger” or the rich peach flowers with amazing red, pink and burgundy stripes of C. `Tropicana” are just a few of' the potential `wow' colour combinations.
There are dozens and dozens of canna varieties, but there are more than a few I'm really excited about. Black is still where its at and there are a number of dark varieties. The master of black is ‘Australia'. This rather slender and elegant grower has almost black leaves with brilliant orange-red flowers. Its definitely a wow plant in my book.
There’s one variety that I've had my eye on for some time now, and it's called 'Constitution’. Its immense peach coloured flowers open above rich light bronze coloured foliage. It's a class act and would be quite at home surrounded by drawf echinacea.
Perhaps the most stunning of all cannas are the yellow and green varieties which, by the way, are all very similar. Striped `Bengal tiger', with its rich orange flowers, was one of the first of the intense yellow and green striped varieties. `Pretoria' looks almost identical with melon orange blooms and leaves similar to `Bengal tiger', but with a tiny red margin on the outside of its leaves.
Speaking of stripes, the most popular of all the striped varieties is `Tropicana'. It has intense green, orange and red striped foliage that changes intensity with the temperature and maturity of the leaves. Its orange flowers are a true compliment to its leaf colour.
Sometimes we simply get caught up in the foliage colours of cannas and overlook their exquisite blossoms. Today there are a whole series of designer colours, such as peach, apricot and pink shaded varieties, that blend in with our current colour schemes.
Remember: cannas are well suited to both container and garden bed planting. They add both depth and vibrancy to any garden. But most of all, they can instantly add a magical touch of the tropics.