Canna fairly easy to grow, come in wide varieties - Albuquerque Journal

Canna fairly easy to grow, come in wide varieties

Q: Last year while walking around Old Town, my girlfriend and I saw several half-barrels that were planted with plants she called cannas. I want to plant several canna plants this year and have already purchased several packages. How soon will I be able to plant these in my new garden and be sure they get off to a good start? – S.E., Albuquerque

A: I’m going to suggest that you wait a little while longer to plant.

Meanwhile, I think you should get out there and turn and amend the soil where you’re going to plant these treasures. When you are amending the soil add lots of compost and if the soil is very clay-like, work in some clean sand, too.

The cannas will want soil that can retain some moisture, but won’t do too well if sitting in a puddle. The compost adds additional nutrients and the sand will promote good drainage, convincing the roots to grow downward, not out to the side when searching for water.

Cannas will perform best if offered an airy spot that receives 6-to-8 hours of sun a day. I wouldn’t plant too close to a wall that would give off a lot of bounce-back radiant heat and sunlight. They really like having a breeze blow through them while they sit in the sun.

There are several varieties available that grow to lots of mature sizes. The standard canna can easily grow to four feet and sometimes taller. There are also semi-dwarf and dwarf varieties, too.

The blooms of the canna are striking. They can come in color ranges from brilliant reds, corals, oranges, copper, bright yellow, and some have flowers that can be striped.

The leaf of a canna is large and looks a lot like a banana leaf. Those, too can come in lots of different colors – dark near chocolate-green, purple, true green, and some are bi- and tri-colored striped.

Just remember to plant where they’ll get fair air circulation, have soil at their feet that has been amended, yet will hold enough water to keep the plants from getting crispy.

It’s recommended to cut the bloom stalk out of the plant once it’s finished blooming and then, here in this area, cut the plant stalk down to ground level for it to winter over.

Cannas are a fairly easy plant to grow in these parts and I believe you’ll enjoy growing them.

Q: I am looking for a large shrub/small tree to fill in a spot in my yard. It’s not a small spot, but doesn’t have room for a tree nor do I want to have one planted there. Can you recommend a plant that would work for me? P.S. I’d really like it if it flowered, too. – S.S., Albuquerque

A: I’m going to suggest that you search out a multi-trunked variety of a plant called flowering almond. This lovely plant is a show-stopper.

The blooms that come on in early spring are defined as doubles, and look like powder puffs of the sweetest pale pink. They are followed by arching canes or stems sporting wide, lance-shaped leaves.

When first popping out, the leaves have a bare purple cast, but that quickly fades, leaving the foliage a good green.

If there is enough sun in the spot, you could also look into a dwarf variety of lilac. You’d have heavenly scented blooms in the early spring and know you’d invested in a plant that is ridiculously sturdy, too.

• • •

Dear readers, last week I was asked to offer a listing of trees that will grow well here in our area. I received a note from Sharon Horst, executive director of the group Tree New Mexico. She suggests a visit to the website, which offers a listing of trees and the best environment to grow them in.

I poked around the site and was agog at all of the information this dedicated bunch of folks offer about the picking of, care and tending to, and the whys we want trees here. It’s a website full of terrific information on trees.

Check it out and Happy Diggin’ In this first weekend of April 2023.

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to


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