BY LINDA SCHREIBER
As the self-appointed queen of cannas, here are some of my storage tips to ensure you have these tropical-looking plants year-after-year for your garden.
It’s actually pretty easy to winter canna rhizomes but it does take some time and planning.
Before you can begin processing cannas for storage, the rhizomes must be lifted out of the ground. I wait as long as possible for the first frost – usually about mid-October.
The first step is to remove the stalks about 4 inches above the ground. The 4-inch stalk will provide a handle if needed to pull rhizomes out of the ground. But wait a few days to before you begin to dig. This will allow the cut stalk to dry. When you dig, remember that cannas can multiply over the summer, so you will want to start digging 8 to 10-inches away from the stalk to avoid cutting or slicing rhizomes.
As you remove the canna rhizomes from the ground, detach the remaining stalk, remove any decaying rhizomes and knock or brush off the soil. I bury the decayed rhizomes and stalks in the ground to feed the soil and earthworms over winter.
Next, prepare the cannas for storage by “curing” them. Curing involves drying the rhizomes for several days. This step allows the skin on the rhizomes to toughen and helps keep rot at bay. I put a tarp on the garage floor and spread the rhizomes out to air dry.
After the cannas have cured, they can be stored. I individually wrap them in newspaper and place them in containers or boxes. The best place to store cannas is in a cool – about 40 degrees is great – dry place, such as a garage, the basement, or a closet. Check on the cannas once in a while. If you find that more than a few are rotting, you may want to find a drier place to store the cannas.