Plant your borders with fly­ing colours

Glam­orous ex­otic trop­i­cal can­nas bring vivid shades to your gar­den

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Your Garden -

CANNA lilies are great for in­tro­duc­ing in­ter­est at this time of year with their dra­matic fo­liage and daz­zling flow­ers, and I’ve been plant­ing them this week. Pop­u­lar since Vic­to­rian times as the thriller cen­tre­piece to bed­ding schemes, they look great planted in pots or borders and should per­form well through to Oc­to­ber.

Now’s a good time to pur­chase them so you know ex­actly what you are get­ting in terms of fo­liage and blos­som colours. These vary enor­mously across the dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars.

The leaves are large and pad­dle­shaped and can be vivid green through to dark bur­gundy, some­times with stripes or veins of yel­low or pink. The flow­ers range through all the hot colours of or­anges, reds, yel­lows and pinks as well as some cool white ver­sions.

Their ex­otic ap­pear­ance can trans­form a se­date area into a steamy jun­gle, espe­cially when planted with other fiery flow­ers such as salvias, dahlias and cro­cos­mia, or dra­matic large head aga­pan­thus.

Their near­est rel­a­tives in the plant world are other big-leaved plants such as gin­gers and ba­nanas which also make good plant­ing com­pan­ions for them.

They come from the tropic and sub­trop­i­cal re­gions of North and South Amer­ica where the starch-rich rhi­zomes are of­ten grown as an agri­cul­tural food crop.

Here they are classed as ten­der peren­ni­als. In milder or coastal ar­eas you might get away with leav­ing them out­doors in win­ter, and as the leaves die down in win­ter, mulch well to in­su­late.

How­ever, if you are in colder ar­eas and usu­ally lift your dahlias, then you’re best to lift the canna rhi­zomes too. Dig them up with the soil they are planted in and pot up to over­win­ter in the green­house or a cool area in­doors, wa­ter­ing oc­ca­sion­ally so they don’t dry out. They can be re­planted out­doors when fear of frost has gone in May.

For such glam­orous and showy plants, they are sur­pris­ingly easy to care for.

They are heavy feed­ers so pre­pare the plant­ing site well with plenty of com­post or well-rot­ted ma­nure, and feed a liq­uid fer­tiliser reg­u­larly for op­ti­mum flow­er­ing. Plenty of wa­ter is also a must and ideally plant in sun­shine out of the wind – al­though they are sturdy, the wind can bat­ter the leaves and make them look a bit tatty.

Gen­tly re­move any dead petals but don’t snap off the heads as you usu­ally would when dead­head­ing as there are more flower buds di­rectly be­neath which you don’t want to de­stroy.

They can suf­fer from a virus which shows up as mot­tling and dis­tor­tion of the leaves. Re­gret­tably there is no rem­edy for this and the only op­tion is to dig them all up and de­stroy them.

Best va­ri­eties to look out for in­clude ‘Wy­oming’ which is tall with tan­ger­ine or­ange flow­ers and gor­geous dark leaves, ‘Dur­ban’ for its bur­gundy fo­liage with pink and or­ange var­ie­ga­tion, and ‘Ehe­manii’ which has beau­ti­ful nod­ding trusses of pink flow­ers.

Most strik­ing of all is ‘Musi­fo­lia Grande’ which is a whop­per at over two me­tres and mainly grown for its fo­liage as it doesn’t usu­ally achieve its full height and flow­er­ing in our cli­mate.

And did you know that there are wa­ter can­nas which can you grow in your pond dur­ing the sum­mer? These can stand in a cou­ple of inches of wa­ter or you could grow them in a tray of wa­ter.

There’s also a va­ri­ety called ‘Ra’ with beau­ti­ful yel­low flow­ers. These are ten­der so will need bring­ing in­doors for win­ter or they’d be lovely as a con­ser­va­tory plant.

For more in­for­ma­tion or to buy, check out Hart Canna, the holder of the na­tional col­lec­tion of can­nas at hart­ or call 01252 514421

Can­nas bring an ex­otic touch to any gar­den and have a seem­ingly end­less va­ri­ety of colours and, be­low, dra­matic fo­liage

bags and store for later sow­ing. TO guarantee some win­ter greens – spring cab­bage, turnips and quick-grow­ing crops such as sal­ads and radishes can all be sown now. TRIM hedges now while the weather is good. DRY weather is also great for get­ting any paint jobs done on sheds, fences or fur­ni­ture that need a facelift. Is it time now to try out a new colour scheme? A good time to paint fences and sheds

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