Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tropical Tempations


Katmandu! I mean ... Can-na-you-doo, Canna-you-du this too? Some of you will be able to enjoy Canna Lilies as a perennial and others will have to dig up the tubers and try to overwinter them to enjoy the plant next season. Northern gardeners - I have heard (and discovered) there are some insulation tactics you can employ that can stave off the digging up and storing syndrome related to some tropical tuber plants.

The question for you is, can you stand looking at the insulation method for the length of the cold season! One growers' answer? Place a round bale or hay (or straw) on top of the plant's location. I am sorry but in suburbia this will not work. All northern farm wives - take note! Stuff in you barn or lying in the field, may be of use beyond feeding the cows.

Gardeners in less rural situations might want to consider piling up fallen leaves to a depth of 8 inches or more and holding that in place with pine boughs or an acquirable substitute evergreen-needled bough. I have "lost" tuberous begonias and dahlias under other plants and had them come back after a winter in "farmland" Northern zone 5 because I laid in a thick covering of about 8-10" of maples leaves while trying to get the pile up on some zone 6 Hydrangeas. A picket fence and some big old shade trees held the lower layer into place. have read that evergreen boughs work great for this kind of winterization application. It makes perfect sense. The boughs would allow airflow but still keep the leafy insulation layer where it belonged ... on top of your tender tubers.

You may be drawn to the lovely, yet gentle coloring of dwarf Pink Sunburst (3 ft. high) shown above. Perhaps the more dramatic coloring and stature of Tropicanna or Australia (5 foot high) are more your style. Cannas, are perhaps not such a chore and a gamble in the northern zones of US gardens. Their bold leaves and sumptuous, exotic flowers can be such a welcome addition to so many garden plantings! Browse about and see what fabulous beauties you can find that appeal to your color palette in the garden.

Here in zone 7 (where they are supposed to be in the ground to survive) I got lazy and did not harbor my Phaison Canna below the soil line, I mourned it's death when the temperatures dipped to 16 degrees. Imagine my surprise when I started emptying out that container to find live, healthy roots and a tuber this late this spring! Where was this pot that survive - even only partially a brutal South Eastern cold spell? Under a lot of old tree cover on the due North side of my porch of all places!

Incidentally, in this new climate I have come to reside in ... a piece of my Black Magic Colocasia (Elephant Ears) also decided it could live through the winter in a big container on top of the ground! Wonders never cease when one is dealing with ornamental garden plants!
So yes! With proper insulation - You Canna ... You Canna Du This Too (without digging and storing the tubers each winter).

Canna Lilies are available in oodles of leaf and stem colorings as well as the bloom itself. Some gardeners just love the leaves and not the flower color - so cut off the bloom stem and relish the fantastic foliage! It is all a matter of taste, it is ... YOUR GARDEN. You own private space, a living statement about you.

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