How To Plant Cannas From Seed [ Full Guide ]

Cannas are stunning flowering plants that are often grown for their vibrant blooms and lush foliage. While they are commonly propagated through division of rhizomes, growing cannas from seeds can be a rewarding process. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricate steps involved in planting cannas from seed, including understanding cannas seeds, selecting the right soil and location, timing the planting correctly, and essential steps for successful cultivation.

Cannas, also known as canna lilies, belong to the family Cannaceae and are native to tropical and subtropical regions. With their bold and exotic-looking flowers in shades of red, orange, yellow, and pink, they add a tropical flair to gardens and landscapes. While they are commonly grown from rhizomes due to their ease of propagation, growing cannas from seeds offers the opportunity to select and cultivate unique varieties. Furthermore, starting cannas from seed allows for a more cost-effective method of propagation.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Cannas From Seed

  1. Understanding Cannas Seeds: Cannas produce seeds in pods after flowering. These seeds can be collected once the pods have dried and turned brown.

  2. Choosing the Right Soil for Your Seeds: Opt for a well-draining, fertile soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH for planting cannas seeds.

  3. Choosing the Right Location for Your Seeds: Select a location that receives full sun and provides protection from strong winds.

  4. Timing Your Seed Planting Correctly: Plant cannas seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area.

Understanding Cannas Seeds

Before delving into the process of planting cannas from seed, it’s essential to have a thorough understanding of cannas seeds. Canna plants produce oblong seed pods following the flowering period. These pods contain numerous small, hard seeds that are typically dark brown to black in color. It’s crucial to allow the seed pods to fully mature on the plant before harvesting them for seed propagation.

When the seed pods are fully ripe, they will dry out and turn brown, indicating that the seeds are ready for harvest. Once harvested, the seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant them. Properly stored cannas seeds can remain viable for several years, allowing for multiple opportunities to plant them.

Choosing The Right Soil For Your Seeds

The selection of suitable soil is paramount to the successful germination and growth of cannas from seed. The ideal soil for planting cannas seeds should be well-draining to prevent waterlogging, fertile to provide essential nutrients, and have a slightly acidic to neutral pH.

A good quality potting mix enriched with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure can provide an excellent growing medium for cannas seeds. It’s important to ensure that the soil is free from pests, diseases, and weed seeds to promote the healthy development of the cannas seeds.

Choosing The Right Location For Your Seeds

When considering the location for planting cannas seeds, it’s essential to select a site that offers the optimal growing conditions for the germination and subsequent growth of the seeds. Cannas thrive in full sun, so choose a spot that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Additionally, it’s crucial to protect the young seedlings from strong winds, which can damage the delicate emerging plants. If planting cannas seeds outdoors, ensure that the chosen location provides a degree of shelter from strong winds to prevent potential damage to the emerging seedlings.

Timing Your Seed Planting Correctly

Timing plays a critical role in the successful cultivation of cannas from seed. In regions with colder climates, it’s advisable to start cannas seeds indoors approximately 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost date. This allows the seeds to germinate and develop into healthy seedlings before being transplanted outdoors once the risk of frost has passed.

By initiating the germination process indoors, gardeners can provide a controlled environment conducive to the optimal growth of cannas seeds. Ensuring the seedlings are at a robust stage when transplanted will increase their chances of thriving in the outdoor environment.

Planting cannas from seed can be a gratifying and fulfilling experience for gardeners seeking to add these spectacular flowering plants to their garden or landscape. By understanding cannas seeds, selecting the right soil and location, and timing the planting correctly, you can enhance the success of growing cannas from seed. The process of growing cannas from seed allows for the appreciation of the entire life cycle of these plants, from seed to stunning blooms, providing a deeper connection to the natural world and the beauty it offers.

Preparing Your Seeds For Planting

Cannas are beautiful flowering plants that can add a splash of color and tropical vibes to your garden. While many people prefer to propagate cannas from rhizomes, planting them from seeds can be an exciting and rewarding experience. By starting cannas from seeds, you have the opportunity to grow unique varieties that may not be available as rhizomes.

  1. Obtain quality seeds: The first step in the process is to make sure you have high-quality canna seeds. You can purchase them from reputable seed companies or collect them from mature canna plants. It’s important to note that canna seeds can have a low germination rate, so it’s advisable to get more seeds than you actually need.

  2. Stratification: Stratification is a process that mimics the natural conditions seeds would normally experience over winter, stimulating germination. Canna seeds can benefit from stratification, especially if they were recently harvested. To stratify your seeds, place them in a damp paper towel or some moistened peat moss. Seal the seeds in a plastic bag and refrigerate them for about 4 weeks at a temperature of around 40-45°F (4-7°C).

  3. Scarification: After the stratification period, you may choose to scarify the canna seeds. Scarification breaks down the hard outer shell of the seed, allowing water to penetrate and stimulate germination. You can lightly rub the seeds with sandpaper or use a nail file to create small scratches on the seed coat. Be careful not to damage the inner embryo.

RELATED  How To Plant Sunflower Field [ Full Guide ]

Planting Your Seeds In The Soil

  1. Choosing the right time: Cannas are tropical plants that require warm temperatures to grow. Wait until the danger of frost has passed before planting your canna seeds. Ideally, the soil temperature should be consistently above 60°F (15°C). In most regions, this means starting your seeds indoors or waiting until late spring or early summer to plant them directly into the ground.

  2. Selecting the planting location: Choose a spot in your garden that receives full sun for at least 6-8 hours a day. Cannas thrive in well-draining soil, so improve the soil by incorporating compost or organic matter to enhance drainage and fertility. Ensure the planting area is free from weeds and other competing plants.

  3. Sowing the seeds: Whether you choose to start the seeds indoors or sow them directly in the ground, the process is relatively straightforward. If starting indoors, fill seed trays or small pots with a well-draining seed starting mix. Plant the seeds approximately 1/4 inch deep, and space them about 2 inches apart. If planting directly in the ground, create small holes that are 1/4 inch deep and space them according to the desired spacing for your canna plants.

  4. Covering and watering: Once the seeds are sown, cover them lightly with soil or vermiculite and gently water them. Ensure that the soil remains moist but not waterlogged. To retain moisture and create a greenhouse-like environment, cover the seed trays or pots with a clear plastic dome or use plastic wrap. If planting directly in the ground, cover the area with a thin layer of mulch to help retain soil moisture.

  5. Maintaining warmth: Cannas require warm soil temperatures to germinate successfully. Maintain a temperature of around 70-75°F (21-24°C) by placing your seed trays or pots on a heating mat or in a warm location in your home. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as this can cause the soil to dry out too quickly.

  6. Germination: Depending on the variety and environmental conditions, canna seeds can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks to germinate. Be patient and continue to provide consistent moisture and warmth during this time. Once the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic cover and provide them with adequate ventilation to prevent damping off.

Watering Your Canna Seedlings

  1. Watering frequency: While it’s crucial to keep the soil evenly moist during germination, it’s equally important to avoid overwatering. Water the seedlings when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Use a gentle watering technique to avoid dislodging the delicate seedlings and always water at the base of the plants to prevent fungal diseases.

  2. Water quality: Cannas prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 6.8. Therefore, it’s recommended to use rainwater, distilled water, or tap water that has been allowed to sit for at least 24 hours to allow chlorine to dissipate. Avoid using hard water, as it may contain excessive minerals that can hinder the plant’s growth.

  3. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the seedlings can help retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth. A 2-3 inch layer of straw, wood chips, or shredded bark can be used as mulch. Ensure that the mulch is spread evenly and kept a few inches away from the base of the plants to prevent stem rot.

  4. Drought tolerance: Cannas have good drought tolerance once established, but as seedlings, they require consistent moisture to thrive. Be attentive to rainfall and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. During hot and dry periods, you may need to increase watering frequency to ensure the seedlings do not become stressed.

Fertilizing Your Canna Seedlings

  1. Initial fertilizer application: Once your canna seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, it’s time to start feeding them. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). Dissolve the fertilizer in water according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and apply it to the seedlings every two weeks. Alternatively, you can use a slow-release organic fertilizer according to package directions.

  2. Micro-nutrients: In addition to the primary macronutrients, cannas also require trace elements, also known as micro-nutrients, for healthy growth. These include iron, magnesium, boron, and others. To ensure the seedlings receive these essential nutrients, consider using a fertilizer that includes micro-nutrients or supplementing with a separate micro-nutrient fertilizer.

  3. Avoid excessive fertilization: While cannas appreciate regular feeding, it’s important not to over-fertilize. Too much nitrogen, in particular, can result in excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowering. Follow the recommended dosage provided by the fertilizer manufacturer and observe your plants for any signs of nutrient deficiency or excess.

  4. Transplant fertilizer: If you plan to transplant your canna seedlings into the garden, give them a boost of fertilizer a few weeks before the transplanting date. This will help prepare them for the transition and encourage vigorous growth.

Planting cannas from seeds can be a delightful and rewarding gardening project. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully grow canna seedlings and eventually transplant them into your garden. Remember to choose high-quality seeds, stratify and scarify them if necessary, and provide the ideal growing conditions of warmth, moisture, and adequate nutrition. With patience and care, you will soon be rewarded with beautiful canna plants that will grace your garden with their vibrant colors and tropical beauty.

Protecting Your Canna Seedlings From Pests And Diseases

Cannas are beautiful flowering plants that are native to tropical and subtropical regions. They are known for their vibrant and showy flowers, as well as their attractive foliage. While many people purchase mature cannas from nurseries or garden centers, it is also possible to grow them from seeds. Planting cannas from seed can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to add these stunning plants to your garden.

RELATED  How To Plant Sweet Potato Sprouts [ Full Guide ]

Like any other plant, cannas are susceptible to various pests and diseases. However, by taking some preventive measures, you can ensure the health and vigor of your canna seedlings.

  1. Starting with quality seeds: To give your cannas the best chance of success, it’s important to start with high-quality seeds. Purchase seeds from a reputable supplier to ensure their viability. Look for seeds that are plump and firm, without any signs of damage or discoloration.

  2. Sterilizing the soil: Before sowing the seeds, it’s a good idea to sterilize the soil to kill any potential pathogens or pests. This can be done by baking the soil in the oven at a temperature of 180°F (82°C) for about 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a commercial soil sterilizer available at garden centers.

  3. Preventing damping-off: Damping-off is a fungal disease that commonly affects young seedlings. To prevent damping-off, use sterilized containers and fresh potting soil. Avoid overcrowding the seedlings, as this can promote the spread of the disease. Provide adequate air circulation and avoid overwatering, as excess moisture can contribute to damping-off.

  4. Monitoring for pests: Keep a close eye on your canna seedlings for any signs of pest activity. Common pests that may attack cannas include aphids, spider mites, and caterpillars. Inspect the undersides of leaves regularly and take action at the first sign of infestation. Organic pest control methods, such as insecticidal soap or neem oil, can be effective in managing these pests.

  5. Preparing for transplantation: As the canna seedlings grow, they will need to be transplanted into larger pots or outdoors. Before transplanting, prepare the soil by adding well-rotted compost or organic matter. This will help provide the nutrients your cannas need to thrive.

Transplanting Your Canna Seedlings

Once your canna seedlings have grown to a suitable size, it’s time to transplant them into their permanent location. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choosing the right location: Cannas thrive in full sun, so choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. The soil should be rich, well-draining, and slightly acidic with a pH between 5.5 and 7. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, incorporate organic matter or sand to improve drainage.

  2. Digging the planting holes: Dig holes that are deep enough to accommodate the root ball of the seedlings. The depth should be about twice the size of the root ball. Space the holes at least 12-18 inches apart to allow the cannas to have sufficient room to grow and spread.

  3. Adding fertilizer: Before planting, apply a balanced granular fertilizer to the planting holes according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will provide the young cannas with essential nutrients to get them off to a strong start.

  4. Carefully transplanting the seedlings: Gently remove the canna seedlings from their containers or trays, being careful not to damage the delicate roots. Place each seedling into a planting hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the seedling.

  5. Watering thoroughly: After transplanting, water the seedlings thoroughly to settle the soil and remove any air pockets around the roots. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, as cannas prefer slightly moist conditions. Avoid watering the foliage, as wet leaves can promote the development of diseases.

RELATED  How To Plant Centipede Grass Seed [ Full Guide ]

Caring For Your Mature Cannas

Once your cannas are established, they will require regular care to ensure their continued growth and flowering. Here are some essential care tips:

  1. Watering: Cannas require regular watering, especially during dry spells. Water deeply once a week, providing enough moisture to reach the root zone. Avoid overhead watering as it can lead to fungal diseases. Mulching around the plants can help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.

  2. Fertilizing: To promote healthy growth and abundant flowering, it’s important to fertilize your cannas regularly. Use a balanced slow-release fertilizer or an organic fertilizer high in phosphorus. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

  3. Deadheading spent flowers: To encourage continuous blooming, remove faded and spent flowers by cutting them back to the base of the stem. This will redirect the plant’s energy towards producing new blooms.

  4. Dividing and thinning: Over time, cannas can become crowded and form large clumps. To maintain vigorous growth and prevent overcrowding, divide the plants every 2-3 years in early spring or fall. Lift the clump, separate the individual rhizomes, and replant them at the desired spacing.

  5. Winter protection: In regions with cold winters, cannas are not frost-resistant and will need protection. Before the first frost, cut back the foliage to about 4-6 inches above the ground. Lift the rhizomes carefully using a spade, brush off excess soil, and place them in a container filled with dry peat moss or vermiculite. Store the container in a cool, dark, and frost-free location until the following spring.

Tips For Maximizing The Growth Of Your Cannas

To ensure optimal growth and flourishing cannas, follow these additional tips:

  1. Provide support: Some varieties of cannas can grow quite tall and may require staking or support to prevent them from flopping over. Place stakes or cages around the plants early in the growing season to provide support as they grow.

  2. Prune damaged or diseased foliage: Regularly inspect your cannas for any signs of damaged or diseased foliage. Prune and remove any affected leaves or stems promptly to prevent the spread of disease.

  3. Control weeds: Keep the area around your cannas free from weeds, as they can compete for nutrients and moisture. Use mulch or hand-pull weeds regularly to keep them under control.

  4. Monitor for pests and diseases: In addition to the preventive measures mentioned earlier, it’s important to monitor your cannas for any signs of pests or diseases regularly. Early detection and intervention can greatly reduce or prevent damage to your plants.

  5. Experiment with different cultivars: Cannas come in a wide variety of colors and forms. Experiment with different cultivars to create stunning displays of color and texture in your garden. Consider the height, flower color, and foliage characteristics when selecting cannas for your garden.


Growing cannas from seed can be a rewarding and enjoyable process. By starting with quality seeds, protecting the seedlings from pests and diseases, transplanting them correctly, and providing care to mature plants, you can enjoy the beauty of these vibrant and showy flowers in your own garden. Remember to water, fertilize, and properly maintain your cannas to ensure their health and longevity. With proper care, your cannas will reward you with stunning blooms throughout the growing season.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Cannas From Seed?

The best time to plant cannas from seed is in the spring, after the last frost has passed and the soil has warmed up.

How Should I Prepare The Soil Before Planting Cannas From Seed?

Before planting cannas from seed, it is important to prepare the soil by tilling it to a depth of 12-18 inches and incorporating a generous amount of organic matter, such as compost, to improve the soil’s fertility and drainage.

How Deep Should I Plant Cannas Seeds?

Cannas seeds should be planted approximately 1/4 inch deep in the soil. It is important to not plant them too deep as this can hinder their germination.

How Often Should I Water Cannas Seeds Once Planted?

After planting, keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. This may mean watering every 2-3 days, depending on the climate and soil type. Avoid overwatering as it can lead to rot and fungal diseases.

When Can I Expect To See Seedlings Emerging From The Ground?

Cannas seeds typically germinate within 7-14 days, depending on the temperature and growing conditions. However, it may take up to 4-6 weeks for seedlings to emerge, so be patient and continue to provide proper care for the seeds during this time.