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Growing Canna from Seed

Growing canna from seed is pretty straight forward, first of all you will need some seeds. These can be purchased from seed suppliers. The majority of which have an on line presence. Or you can collect seed from plants you have already grown.

I generally begin growing Canna from seed just after valentines days (14 Feb). Light levels begin to increase at about this time. In the past, I would make a start as soon as the Christmas dishes had been washed. However, January can be a miserable month for a newly germinated canna plant.

Equipment
  1. A pair of heavy duty toenail clippers.
  2. Clean plastic flower pots (3 or 4 inch).
  3. Some multipurpose compost.
  4. A small stemless glass (for stability reasons).
  5. Some canna seeds.
Method

First step in growing canna from seed involves chipping the seed. Canna seeds have a very hard coating which wears down over time in a moist environment. If you simply planted the seeds, whole, germination will be more unpredictable. The plants have obviously worked out when is the best time for their children to emerge in the wild, but we are not interested in all that. By chipping the seed you are in control of timings.

A certain amount of pressure needs to be applied to scratch the seed coating. You do not want to go too deep, just until you can see the white inside.

This may take a little practice. The seeds have a tendency to fly off all over the place. If they hit a solid floor they tend to bounce and disappear under the furniture. Chose your location wisely.

Next, once you have chipped all the seeds they need to be soaked. This is where your small stemless glass comes in. Cover the seeds in water and leave for about 48 hours. If you forget about them for an extra few days it does not seem to matter.They just start to grow in the glass.

After a couple of days in soak, they need to be planted. They can either be planted in individual cells trays or in 3 – 4 inch flower pots. Using individual seed trays removes the need to prick the seeds out, i.e. untangle all their roots and plant individually when they are a bit older. However the germination success rate seems to suffer. So if you only have a limited amount of seeds I would plant them in plastic flower pots. I would also only plant a maximum of 4 or 5 to a pot. This is to reduce the headache of untangling the plants when they need their own pots.

Before planting I like to sterilize the compost. This is to kill off any fungal spores that may wish to attack your babies as they emerge. My preferred method is as follows:

Fill the clean flower pots with a multi-purpose compost (new shop bought stuff, don’t use any old rubbish left over from last year!). I like to use boiling water to sterilize the compost surface. Fill a small (pint sized) watering can with a fine rose attached, with boiling water. Water this onto the compost. Using a fine rose prevents an uneven surface. A small watering can prevents you pouring boiling water all over the kitchen floor or onto your legs.

If you do this an hour or so before planting, the seeds will benefit from having a nice warm pot of compost. The compost will also have drained any excess water and be at just the right level of moisture. Pop the seeds in evenly and not too deep.

Next put the pot into a medium freezer bag and seal the top. This way you do not have to worry about the compost drying out. Keep the pot in a warm place but not in direct sunlight. Wait a few days and you should have something like this:

Once the majority of plants have emerged the bag needs to come off. If you have a frost free greenhouse put them out in it. If you do not have such luxuries, they will grow on a window sill. Make sure the plants are rotated regularly or they will grow side ways. Before I had a greenhouse I found that plants grown indoors would get sun burnt when I put them outside in the spring. You will need to acclimatise your plants to outside by leaving them in the shade for a while.

As your plants grow they will need to be separated and planted up individually. Soak the pot thoroughly. This makes the compost soggy and then it is easier to pull the plants apart without too much damage to the roots.. Re-pot the plants individually in small pots. Do not think you can save time by planting them in large pots. For some reason the plants do not like this and often languish. Pot up when you see the roots emerging from the base of the pot. Think of it like changing gear in a car. If you change up too soon, the car struggles. If you change gear at high rev’s the car accelerates away nicely.

Plants grown in individual cells need potting on once they have reached this stage:

And then again once they are at this stage:

And that will be their final potting on before they go out into the garden full time. So typically a canna grown from seed will have been in three pots before planting out.

If you are short of indoor space you can also try sowing your seeds directly in the soil.

An illustrated step by step guide to growing canna from seed. Chipping, soaking ,planting, plus lots of pictures.

Canna Lily Seed Harvesting: Can You Plant Canna Lily Seeds

Canna lilies are commonly propagated by dividing their underground rhizomes, but can you plant canna lily seeds too? This article will answer that question.

Canna Seed Propagation

Propagation of canna lily by seeds is possible, as many varieties produce viable seeds. Since most of the plants with dazzling flowers are hybrids, starting canna lilies from seed may not give you the same variety.

Nevertheless, if you find it interesting to raise plants from seeds just to find out how they turn out, it is definitely worth a try. Moreover, you are not likely to be disappointed, as the wild varieties of canna lilies are all rather pretty, with striking colors and markings.

Canna Lily Seed Harvesting

So when can you harvest canna lily seeds? Once the flowers are spent, a cluster of seed pods develop. 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.

How to Germinate Canna Lily Seeds

Can you plant canna lily seeds directly in the garden? Canna seed propagation is not as easy as the seed collection. 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. You should start the process at least one to two months before you plan to plant it outside. Germination usually takes one to two weeks.

Soaking – Canna seeds should be soaked in water for a minimum of 24 hours. 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.

After planting the seeds in the medium and watering, the container should be covered in plastic wrap and kept warm indoors. A constant temperature of 70 to 75 F. (21-24 C.) is necessary to initiate germination. You can use a heating pad to maintain the temperature.

Scarification – Another method to encourage canna seed germination is by rubbing off a bit of the seed coat before planting. Use a file or sandpaper to scrape off the seed coat. You should keep rubbing until the whiteness of the endosperm becomes visible.

Scarified canna seeds can be planted directly in the medium without soaking, as water can easily get across the seed coat now. But the container should be kept warm throughout.

Canna lily is a monocot, with just one seed leaf emerging first. When the seedlings are over 6 inches (15 cm.) in height, they can be transferred into pots. Planting in the garden should be attempted only after all danger of frost is over.

Canna lilies are commonly propagated by dividing their underground rhizomes. But can you plant canna lily seeds too? Click here to get more information.