Mark A. Konlock is the Director of Horticulture at Green Bay Botanical Garden.

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Tropicanna Canna
by Mark A. Konlock       #Hot Plants

Red plumes of Amaranthus, leaves and stems echo the burgundy in the foliage of Tropicanna canna.

What better way to dream of the upcoming gardening season than to think about the tropical feel that we can bring to our Wisconsin gardens? Amazingly, plants like cannas and elephant ears can grow to be behemoths, even in our northern growing season. There are a multitude of cultivars to choose from, so check out local garden centers and online suppliers, such as Brent and Becky’s Bulbs and Plant Delights Nursery to find yours.

One canna sure to get the attention of your gardening friends is Tropicanna®. The foliage of this plant is a motley combination of dark green, chocolate, burgundy and pink. When backlit, the hues change like a kaleidoscope, making echoes of color combinations possible. The tangerine orange flowers add another dimension.

Tropicals, such as cannas, look great when grouped together. Grouping is also a good way to keep plants that have a need for a bit more moisture together to lessen the watering chores. Or just plant a large clump in a container for a magical specimen. In the fall, dig up and store the rhizome for next year’s display. For best results, start the tuber indoors in March to transplant outdoors in June.

Common Name:  Tropicanna® canna

Botanical Name: Canna ‘Phasion’

Cultivars to Look For: Tropicanna Black or Gold, ‘Intrigue’ and many others!

Color: Leaves are a striped array of burgundy, pink, dark green and chocolate; flowers are tangerine orange.

Blooming Period: Throughout the summer as plants size up

Type: Tropical, not winter hardy in Wisconsin.

Size: 4 to 6 feet tall and 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun. Tolerates part shade.

When to Plant: In June, once temperatures are consistently above 50 F

How to Plant: Containerized plants can be placed at the same level as they are in the container, overwintered rhizomes can be planted in the ground once temperatures are warm or potted up and grown indoors until that time.

Soil: Medium to wet soil; can also be used in containers, but make sure to provide adequate moisture.

Watering: Thoroughly and frequently

When to Fertilize: Incorporate a well-balanced slow release fertilizer, such as Osmocote 14-14-14 when planting to provide season-long nutrition.

In Your Landscape: Adds a lush, tropical feel to your garden or containers. Plant with color echoing annuals and other tropicals. If possible, position so canna is backlit by setting sun.

From Wisconsin Gardening Volume II Issue II. Photos courtesy of Mark A. Konlock.


Posted: 06/13/14   RSS | Print


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