How to Plant Canna Bulbs

Canna lilies (Canna x generalis) are perennials grown from <atarget="_blank" href=""> </atarget="_blank">bulbs in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. The plant is prized for its unusual shape and color -- its veined, glossy foliage and spiked, vibrantly hued blossoms make it a striking statement piece. Instead of buying a juvenile canna lily plant, start your own lily garden by planting canna bulbs directly in the soil.

Location, Location, Location

Canna lilies thrive when grown with lots of heat and direct sunlight. While they can tolerate some partial shade, shading weakens the plant and reduces the amount of flowers it produces.

For the best results, look for a warm planting site that gets at least six hours of sunshine every day. East- and west-facing portions of the yard will receive the most sunlight, and west-facing flowerbeds are ideal because they also get the most heat.

Soil Preparation and Planting

Plant canna lilies as soon as possible in the spring, but only after the last frost date in the region has passed. Frost is lethal to this heat-loving bulb.

Step 1

Break up the planting site's soil to a depth of 15 inches with a garden fork or garden spade.

Step 2

Remove sticks, rocks and other debris.

Step 3

Mix in a 4-inch layer of well-aged compost. Canna lilies require soil that's rich in organic matter. Compost enhances soil drainage, boosts aeration and improves micronutrient levels.

Step 4

Dig a planting hole that's 6 inches deep and approximately 4 inches across.

Step 5

Add 1/3 cup of 10-10-10 general purpose garden fertilizer to the planting hole, mixing it into the soil at the bottom of the hole. The fertilizer will speed up the plant's growth and establishment.

Step 6

Place the canna lily bulb into the hole. Orient the bulb so that the eye -- the dot-like node on the bulb that will sprout -- is facing upward, toward the sky.

Step 7

Fill the hole back up with soil and tap it with the garden spade to settle the soil.

Post-Planting Care

After planting the canna lily bulb or rhizome, cover the planting site with an inch or two of mulch. Mulch keeps weeds from invading the lily flowerbed and also conserves soil moisture.

Water the planting site once a day, using enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Keep the soil consistently moist until the lily bulbs sprout, which can take approximately two to three weeks. Then reduce watering so that you only water after the top couple of inches of soil has dried out.