How to Grow Canna Lilies from Seeds

Red Canna LilyImage by gohomekiki @flickr

Red Canna Lily
Image by gohomekiki @flickr

Super excited! My canna lilies are starting to bloom!!! I know this doesn’t sound like much for a typical canna lily grower, but- last year I started them from seed. No, not rhizomes- but SEED! They typically take 2-3 years to start blooming like the ones in this image. Nice, huge, full blooms don’t immediately come from canna lilies that are grown from seed. So, in general, patience is required, or so they say. I did get a few blooms last year, but this year they are coming out of the kinks!

I had received nearly 300 canna lily seeds in a seed trade about 4 or 5 years ago. I had never tried growing them and didn’t know much about doing so. They got stashed in my seed basket, sifted around, sorted through, and overlooked many times for a couple of years. Last year, I was cleaning out my seeds while my dad building my new greenhouse and decided to give them a try.

I did a little research and learned that they had to be scarified or they would not germinated because of the tough out layer. The seeds are about the size of an English pea and hard as a rock- hints the reason for their name Indian Shot. Indians actually used them as ammo because of their size and how hard they were. But hey, who’s teaching history today, we are talking about gardening right.

I created a tutorial on How to Grow Canna Lilies from Seed so that others could do the same. It was more of an experiment my first go round but it turned out very successful. I even had a dozen or so bloom last year (their first year :). Now here it is early spring in their second year and they are starting to bloom.

Did you know that canna lilies have a very high germination rate when properly scarified? Out of nearly 300 seeds I had a 99% germination rate on the seeds  I sowed.  I scarified and then soaked the seeds. When they began to germinate I popped them in seed trays and within a few days they were breaking the soil.  ( I will admit that I was very intimidated by the whole scarification idea- simply because I had never grown anything that required an extra ‘step’ prior to planting the seed. )

I ended up with  297 out of 300 seeds. Not bad! I don’t know of any other seed I have ever planted that has done so well. Not to mention, these seeds were several years old. Needless to say, I had more canna lilies than I had bargained for and gave several away and now that they have multiplied over the winter, I will be giving several more away.

For step-by-step photos and instructions for harvesting the seeds, the scarification and germination process, and everything else you need to know,  check out How to Grow Canna Lilies from Seeds.