Growing Canna Lilies from Seeds – A Complete Guide

Most of the time, canna lilies are spread by splitting their underground stems, but can you also plant seeds? This article will answer that question.

Propagation of canna lily by seeds is possible, as many varieties produce viable seeds. Canna lilies from seeds might not give you the same variety as plants with beautiful flowers that are hybrids.

Still, if you like the idea of growing plants from seeds just to see how they do, you should give it a try. You probably won’t be let down either, because all the wild canna lilies are very pretty, with bright colors and markings.

With their large, tropical-looking leaves and showy flowers in vibrant colors, canna lilies add drama to gardens and containers. While many gardeners buy cannas as started plants or tubers, you can also grow these exotic beauties yourself from seeds. Read on for a complete guide to planting cannas from seeds and enjoying their lush foliage and dazzling blooms this season.

When to Plant Canna Seeds

Cannas need warm soil and air temperatures to germinate and grow properly. Start canna seeds indoors in late winter, 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost in your area. Mid-February to early March is ideal for northern zones. Soaking the seeds before planting helps speed germination.

Preparing Canna Seeds for Planting

To encourage faster, more uniform germination, it’s best to prepare canna seeds before planting:

  • Soak seeds in room temperature water for 12-24 hours prior to planting. This softens the tough outer seed coat.

  • Gently scratch or nick each seed with a file or sandpaper. Carefully rub seeds against sandpaper or an emery board. This allows moisture to penetrate the seed coat.

  • Soak seeds in a dilute hydrogen peroxide solution for 5 minutes. The peroxide helps dissolve the seed coat and stimulates germination.

  • Allow seeds to dry on a paper towel before planting to prevent rotting

How to Plant Canna Seeds

Follow these simple steps for planting canna seeds

  • Fill starter pots or trays with a commercial seed starting mix Moisten the mix before planting,

  • Sow 2-3 seeds per cell or pot, 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Space cells 2-3 inches apart.

  • Lightly cover seeds with seed starting mix. Gently water with a spray bottle to avoid displacing seeds.

  • Cover trays or pots with plastic wrap or dome lids to retain moisture.

  • Place in warm location (75-85°F) with bright, indirect light. Bottom heat speeds germination.

  • Keep soil moist but not saturated until seeds sprout. Lift covers or mist occasionally to provide airflow and prevent fungal diseases.

  • Germination typically occurs within 1-3 weeks. Acclimate seedlings before transplanting outdoors.

Transplanting Canna Seedlings

Once seedlings have 2-4 true leaves, it’s time to transplant into the garden after all danger of frost has passed:

  • Harden off plants by setting them outdoors in partial shade for a few hours daily over 7-10 days.

  • Prepare planting beds with rich, loose soil and plenty of organic matter like compost. Cannas thrive in moist, fertile ground.

  • Space plants 12-18 inches apart in beds or containers. Plant at the same level they grew in pots.

  • Water transplants thoroughly and provide heavy mulch to retain moisture. Avoid wetting foliage.

  • Feed every 2-3 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer once established.

Ongoing Care of Canna Plants

To keep your cannas looking their best all season long:

  • Provide at least 6 hours of direct sun per day. Shelter from hot afternoon sun and drying winds.

  • Water deeply when the top few inches of soil become dry. Established plants are moderately drought tolerant.

  • Stake tall varieties if needed. Pinch back leggy stems to encourage bushy growth.

  • Remove spent flowers to prolong bloom. Deadhead faded blooms back to a leaf node.

  • In zones 7-10, cannas can be left in the ground over winter. Mulch heavily after first frost.

  • In colder climates, dig up tubers after first frost and store in peat moss or vermiculite at 45-50°F over winter.

Top Canna Varieties for Growing from Seed

Some top-performing canna cultivars to try from seed include:

  • Canna ‘Tropicanna’: 3-4 feet tall with vivid orange blooms and striking purple-bronze leaves

  • Canna ‘Australia’: 5-6 feet tall with large scarlet blooms on green foliage

  • Canna ‘Intrigue’: 3 feet tall with yellow speckled leaves and orange flowers

  • Canna ‘Ra’: 5 feet tall with large soft pink blooms on burgundy-bronze leaves

  • Canna ‘Erebus’: 4 feet tall with dark maroon leaves and red flowers

With proper care, cannas grown from seed will reward you with non-stop color from midsummer into fall. Their huge leaves and bright blossoms create striking focal points in the garden or containers.

How to Germinate Canna Lily Seeds

Can you plant canna lily seeds right in the garden? It’s not as easy to grow canna plants from seeds. The seeds do not germinate when planted directly in the soil.

The tough seed coat is the main obstacle. Canna seeds have to be prepared beforehand by softening the seed coat to encourage germination. Canna seed propagation involves soaking, heating, and scarification. Sometimes it takes a few attempts to get it right.

Canna Lily Seed Harvesting

So when can you collect the seeds from a canna lily? Once the flowers die, a group of seed pods forms. The pods are green, spiky, round structures that usually contain one to three seeds.

The pods are harmless in spite of their outward appearance. Canna lily seed harvesting should be done once these seed pods become dry. When pods open up revealing the black seeds inside, you can easily squeeze them out. They are quite big and easy to handle.

Growing Cannas from Seed! My preferred way!


How to prepare canna lily seeds for planting?

Some recommend using lukewarm water for soaking. Use of a commercial medium such as Jiffy Mix may be ideal for germinating canna lily seeds. Make small depressions in the medium and put in the seeds. Cover with the mix and water.

How long does it take to grow canna from seed?

Plants started from seed in Winter, will bloom in the same year. If I remember correctly, it takes about 6 months to get a flower. The plant might not reach full size but if you keep the roots over the winter you will get an early crop of lovely flowers in the summer.

Do cannas bloom the first year from seed?

Cannas will generally take 100 days to bloom after planting. To ensure blooms in the first year you must start your seeds indoors several weeks before the last frost date to give them a head start. This method had a few steps but the reward is beautiful plants.

Can you grow canna lilies from seed?

Canna lilies are beautiful, tropical foliage plants that can be very costly. It’s possible to grow these lilies from seed, which is a great way to save money and see the rewards from your own labor. Canna lilies are very easy to grow from seed, if done correctly. They require scarification before they can germinate.

How to grow a Canna plant?

You can purchase seeds from a reputable seed company or collect them from mature cannas in your garden. It is important to choose seeds from healthy plants to ensure the best chance of success. Prepare the planting area: Cannas prefer well-draining soil, so make sure the planting area is prepared accordingly.

Do Cannas grow from seeds?

Cannas are beautiful flowering plants that can add a touch of exotic flair to any garden or landscape. Growing cannas from seeds can be a rewarding experience, but it requires the right conditions to ensure successful germination and growth.

How do you germinate cannas seeds?

To germinate cannas seeds, you can start by soaking them in warm water for about 24 hours. This helps to soften the seed coat and promotes faster germination. After soaking, you can place the seeds on a damp paper towel or a seed-starting mix.

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